Easy Way to Install and Uninstall an APK on Google Glass

Google GlassA lot of the cooler apps that are coming to Google Glass™ requires you to side-load them. Installing or “Side-loading” an app can look like a difficult task to people who have never done it before, but overall it is a pretty simple process – getting ready to side-load/install an apk takes more time than the actual installation. Anyway, here are all the steps you need to take to successfully side-load an app onto Google Glass.

Warning: Some applications may not work and/or may cause your Glass to perform differently. Glass Apps Source takes no responsibility if you break or brick your device.

Android Debug Bridge

The ADB tool is absolutely necessary if you want to side-load applications onto your Google Glass. ADB is a tool that is used to send commands to an android device. To install ADB:

  1. Download the Android SDK.
  2. Extract the Android SDK, move the “platform-tools” folder to the root of your C: drive and rename it “Android-adb”.
  3. Right-click your computer icon, go to properties, go to advanced and then click on “Environment Variables”.
  4. In the system variable section, locate “path”, click it, and then click edit.
  5. Go to the very end of all the text, and add: ;C:\Android-adb and then click okay.

Congratulations, you have just set up the Android Debug Bridge :)

Building and Installing Glass Launcher

This launcher allows you to start applications that are side loaded – it’s pretty handy. To install this launcher you will need to import the project into Eclipse, which is a program that can be found in the Android SDK. Here are the steps to install Glass Launcher:

  1. Download Glass Launcher zip and extract it.
  2. Open Eclipse in the extracted Android SDK folder.
  3. Import the Glass Launcher project. In Eclipse, click file > import and select “Existing Android Code Into Workspace”, and click next.
  4. Click “browse”, select the Glass Launcher folder that you downloaded, place checkmark next to GlassLauncher, and click finish.
  5. Right Click on the Glass Launcher project in the Project Explorer pane, click on properties, click on Android, place a checkmark next to “Glass Development Kit Sneak Peak” and click okay.
  6. Right Click on the Glass Launcher project in the Project Explorer pane, go to Android Tools, and select add support library. Wait for it to download.
  7. Before you compile the project, you need to clean it. In Eclipse, click the project menu, click clean, click the radio button next to “Clean projects selected below”, and place a checkmark next to “GlassLauncher” and click okay.
  8. Plug Google Glass into your computer and enable debug mode on Google Glass by going to the settings > device info > enable debug mode.
  9. Right Click on the Glass Launcher project, go to run as, and click Android application.
  10. You should see Glass listed as compatible, highlight it, and click okay.

You should now see some activity in the console section. If the application installs correctly, then you should see something similar to:

[<timestamp> – GlassLauncher] Installing GlassLauncher.apk…
[<timestamp> – GlassLauncher] Success!

You now have a launcher that can help you start sideloaded applications.

Enable Debug Mode

Turning on Debug Mode pretty much tells Google Glass that you plan on tinkering with it and want to be able to debug on it. You have to have debug mode enabled if you want to side load apps. To enable debug mode you need to:

  1. Go to the settings card.
  2. Select the “Device Info” card in the settings.
  3. Scroll over to “Turn on debug” and “click” it.

Debugging should now be turned on.

Installing/Side Loading an app onto Google Glass

After you have installed the ADB and tool have debug mode enabled, you can finally side load an app. To easily install an .apk onto Google Glass you must:

  1. Make sure to have Google Glass connected via USB.
  2. Download and place the APK file in the same directory as ADB. If you installed ADB based on the guide above, then simply place the APK in the Android-adb folder located in the C drive.
  3. Confirm Google Glass is connected. You do this by opening CMD and typing “adb devices”. Once you run that command, you should see a random jumble of numbers and letters with the word “device” next to them. That means Google Glass is connected.
  4. Now, here is the final step, which is actually installing the apk. To install an apk to Google Glass, simply type the command “adb install <apk file here>”. For example, “adb install launchy.apk” would install launchy.

If you have installed the apk correctly, then you will see the word “Success”.

okay glass

After you have installed the app, simply launch it to activate it. Keep in mind, you might have to look around a bit to find it.

That is how you install/side load an apk onto Google Glass. Not too hard, eh?

Uninstalling an Application

Uninstalling an application is a tad bit more difficult than installing one. If you want to uninstall an application you need to open up cmd/go to adb and type:

adb shell pm list packages.

adbshellpmlistpackages

When you enter that command you will see a big list of all the applications that are currently installed on your Glass. While the packages may look the same at first, they are all different and have a different ending. You need to look for the full name of the application you installed. For example, if you installed an app called “Cooking” the package name would be something like con.google.glass.cooking.

Once you have found the package name of the application, you can uninstall the application by simply typing and entering the command:

adb uninstall

If we went by my cooking app example above, then you would type

adb uninstall con.google.glass.cooking.

And, there you go … you’ve now uninstalled an application from Google Glass.

Conclusion

So, there are all the steps you need to follow to side-load/install an apk/application onto Google Glass. Really, the process looks more scary than it actually is. After you have done a few application installations, the process is pretty much as easy as checking your e-mail. Anyway, I hope this guide has helped a few of you Google Glass users out there!

Glass is a trademark of Google Inc.

Josh P

About Josh P

I'm a tech enthusiast and master procrastinator that currently resides in Saint Louis. My days are usually spent reading and writing, but I do enjoy gaming occasionally as well.

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February 6, 2014