After Google announced several months ago that they were expanding the original pool of 2000 Google Glass Explorers (from the 2012 Google I/O Conference) by up to 8000 more people with the “If I had Glass” program, I decided to throw my hat in the ring and signed up, hoping to get an opportunity to buy Glass before it went on the open market. I was selected to be in this second pool, and I picked up my Glass at the Googleplex in Mountain View, CA a couple of weeks ago.
To be able to use the turn-by-turn directions app for Glass, it currently has to be connected using Bluetooth to an Android device running the MyGlass app. (MyGlass for iOS is rumored to be released soon after Glass is released into production.) MyGlass for Android requires Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0.3 or better. Here’s where my problem comes in. I don’t use an Android phone – I have an iPhone 5. So, no GPS for me. Considering that this is one of the main features of Glass, I thought about possible solutions. I wasn’t going to buy a new Android phone just for GPS, but I could buy a tablet. I looked at many of the tablets out there, and there are certainly quite a few to choose from. The only problem for me was that about the only ones that get good reviews are those made by Google, Samsung, and Sony. All of these will set me back by at least $200. Most of those that cost less than that are accompanied by reviews that say “don’t buy it” or “it’s not worth the money”.
As it turns out, I had an old Sprint HTC Evo 4G Android phone at home that was deactivated. Perhaps I could use this! Unfortunately, it ran Android Gingerbread 2.3.5 – several versions below what MyGlass needed to function. At that point, I decided that the trouble to root the device and load a custom ROM might be worth it. After all, I wasn’t using the phone for anything else, and if I could get Ice Cream Sandwich loaded, I could make good use of this otherwise obsolete phone and I wouldn’t have to buy a tablet that I didn’t really need, aside from it being a source for GPS data.
After looking around, I found that the best ROM for this phone would have not Ice Cream Sandwich, but Android’s newest incarnation, Jelly Bean (4.2.1, not 4.2.2). This ROM is known as MazWoz EVO, beta 4. As is usual with these custom ROMs, there are things that no longer work after loading them. With this one, the documentation said that the forward-facing camera (FFC) and WiMax don’t work, and the other camera/video functions may be buggy. This was not surprising to me – and I didn’t need these things anyway. Using these directions, I was able to load Jelly Bean 4.2.1 onto the old Evo 4G in about an hour and a half.
I was ready to pair the Google Glass to the Evo 4G when, lo and behold….Bluetooth doesn’t work on the Evo. By this time, which was at about 3 AM, I was not pleased. No one had mentioned this snag in anything I had read up to that point, so I figured there must be a workaround. Surely not everyone that had loaded the ROM never tried to use Bluetooth. After searching for a bit, I discovered that there was an easy fix! Using Root Explorer or some other file manager that will allow read-write access to the system, delete the file “/etc/bluetooth/bt_vendor.conf” and reboot the phone. After doing this, I have no problems pairing my Glass with the Evo, and now I can ask Glass for directions!