What Is Google Lens?
Google Lens is an image recognition app that gives context to objects you point your camera to. It is developed by Google and was first announced at Google I/O 2017.
It’s basically a visual search tool empowered by A.I. It is a powerful app that recognizes the images with a phone camera and gets the results based on the image.
Lens uses more advanced deep learning routines in order to empower detection capabilities and is similar to other apps like Bixby Vision (for Samsung devices released after 2016) and Image Analysis Toolset (available on Google Play).
When Was Google Lens Launched?
Google Lens was launched officially on October 4, 2017. In November 2017, the feature began rolling out into the Google Assistant for Pixel and Pixel 2 phones and on March 5, 2018, Google released Google Lens to Google Photos on non-Pixel phones. Support for Lens in the iOS version of Google Photos was made on March 15, 2018.
How To Access Google Lens
You can access it in a couple of different ways;
- You can download the Google app for the iPhone and access it by tapping the Google Lens icon in the search bar.
- Alternatively, download the Google Lens app itself to access it directly.
- On Android phones, you can also access it by launching the Google Assistant by long-pressing the home button and then swiping up to reveal the lens icon.
- Google Lens is also readily available in the Google Photos app.
- Some of the Android phones have it incorporated in the camera app like on Google Pixel 3A where you can access it directly from there.
Now that you know how to launch it, let’s see what can you do with it.
What Is Google Lens Used For?
Tap on the Lens icon and it will analyze your photo.
If you take a photo of:
- Apparel and home goods: Find similar products and where to buy them.
- Barcodes: Use a barcode to find info about a product, like where to buy it.
- Business card: Save the phone number or address to a contact.
- Book: Get a summary and read reviews.
- Event flyer or billboard: Add the event to your calendar.
- Landmark or building: See historical facts, hours of operation, and more.
- Painting in a museum: Read about the artist and learn more.
- Plant or animal: Learn about species and breeds.
It will search for text to copy or translate, find similar meals on the internet, tell you the breed of your pet or type of animal in the photo. It can also show you where to buy shoppable products from your photo.
Let’s expand on some of these features.
How To Translate?
This feature is my favourite one. It’s the one that I find the most futuristic and the one with the most potential.
It is not perfect, far from it, but it can help you out in a foreign country and get you out of some tricky spots.
So, how do you use this feature? Simply access the app as I showed you above and find a text you want to translate. Tap the translate icon and optionally choose the language.
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You can use it for menus, explanations, descriptions and anything in between that you need translating. You can even point the camera to the computer screen and it will translate the text on the screen.
Everything is done in real-time of course and in front of your eyes. How awesome is that!
Let’s Do Some Shopping
This is another cool feature you can use. Whip out the phone and point the camera to an object you want to buy. It can be a barcode as well but doesn’t have to. If you want the most accurate results then yeah, scan the code itself. Otherwise, it works good enough.
Find a look you like
See an outfit that catches your eye? Or a chair that’s perfect for your living room? Find similar clothes, furniture, and home decor—without having to describe what you’re looking for in a search box.
Import Contacts From Business Cards
This is a really nifty feature that will help you expedite the process of importing contacts from business cards.
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All you need to do is point your phone’s camera with Google Lens open at the business card and it will scan it and understand all of the text.
Now all you need to do is to tap on various texts and it will give you the option to send an email or add it to your contacts, navigate to the address from the card or search for Twitter handle, for instance, making everything faster and more convenient.
Find Info About Landmarks Or Buildings
By now you should know how this works; point your camera with Google Lens open at the building, in this case, it’s the world-famous Empire State Building, and tap on the circle. It will show you details about the building like photos, working hours, address, phone numbers, website, reviews etc.
Your first options on the menu are
- Map and
That means that you can easily share the details about the building, call the offices, get directions for Google Maps and search Google for more info or articles and posts.
Find Info About Your Own Photos
Need more info about stuff in your own photos? Easy!
Open your Google Photos app and press the Lens icon again on a photo you choose. This will work wonders with items like books, clothing, household items, animals, plants, paintings etc. You get the drift.
Once Google Lens identifies an item, you can continue to interact with Assistant to learn more. If you point it at a book, for example, you’ll be presented with options to read a Wikipedia article about it, purchase the book on one of the websites like Amazon, read reviews on Goodreads or use one of the related content bubbles that appear below the image.
As you can see, Google Lens has some cool features that can help you out in everyday life and especially when you’re travelling to a country or city you’ve never been to.