How to install and run an APK on Google Glass

Since Google Glass is currently only available for “Explorers”, the usability is quite limited and the device requires some hacking. Since the Glass-specific OS is updated regularly this will change soon but up until then, the following trick will come in handy:

Install and run an APK on Google Glass:

Well, currently the standard Glass launcher is quite limited and only allows for starting some pre-installed applications. You could either install a custom launcher like Launchy or do it without any modifications at all: In a nutshell, we will install the APK, find out the name of the app’s launching activity and then launch it. So no modifications and no prior knowledge of the application’s code is needed.

  1. Connect the Google Glass to your computer (you should have the Android SDK installed) and enable the debug mode on your device.
  2. Open a terminal and install the APK via adb install <apk path>.
  3. Find the android tool aapt (located in <sdk>\build-tools\<version>).
  4. Retrieve the package name and the activity to launch: aapt dump badging <apk path> | grep launchable-activity.
  5. Now you have all necessary information to launch the activity whenever you want: adb shell am start -a android.intent.action.MAIN -n <package name>/<activity name>.
  6. As an example with the password app Passdraw (currently not ported to Glass 🙂 ): adb shell am start -a android.intent.action.MAIN -n

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