Last month, Google rolled out its innovative Google Lens app to most Android phones. Here's how to get the most out of its visual-recognition abilities.
Google Lens is a visual analysis app that provides additional interactivity to your phone's camera and photo roll. For example, you can use it to instantly create a new contact in your address book by taking a photo of a business card, or access online reviews by snapping a product in a shop.
Originally only available for Pixel 2 (and later added to the original Pixel), the tool is now being rolled out to all Android phones with Google Assistant and Google Photos. Hurrah!
It's been almost 10 years since Google Goggles launched, the app that lets you learn more about real-world objects by taking photos of them. Google basically abandoned that app when it launched a much-improved version of the technology in Google Lens last year, but only Pixel owners could play point-and-recognise.
Not any more.
Google is now dropping Lens into Google Photos, which gives many more Android users a chance to play with the technology. The company also promises that iOS users will get an opportunity to use Lens in Google Photos "soon".
Rolling out today, Android users can try Google Lens to do things like create a contact from a business card or get more info about a famous landmark. To start, make sure you have the latest version of the Google Photos app for Android: https://t.co/KCChxQG6Qm
Coming soon to iOS pic.twitter.com/FmX1ipvN62
— Google Photos (@googlephotos) March 5, 2018
Using Lens in Google Photos is easy, but slightly less convenient than Lens in Google Assistant. Just take a picture of anything, such as a landmark, a book or a business card, and pull it up in Google Photos. Tap on the Lens icon to have Google scan the image. Depending on what it recognises, it will provide you with a card that has relevant information and, if applicable, a few prompts you can tap to interact with the item in additional ways.
For example, if you use Google Lens to scan a business card, it will recognise your contact's email address, phone number and job title - to name a few items. You can then save that info to your phone as a new contact with a single tap, saving yourself all that annoying typing.
With Lens integrated into Photos, many more Android users can now shoot photos of their friends' routers if they don't want to bother typing in complicated logins and passwords (even though your friends really should have changed those).
Google Lens can also help identify flowers, objects in nature, and the food on your plate. If you're travelling, you can scan your photographs of historic buildings to figure out what they are, take photographs of artwork to learn more about their painters, and even look up a restaurant's reviews (and when they're open).