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What is Google Lens?


Yesterday we discussed AI and its power if used on a website for Search Engine Optimization. Here is our newly compiled article on some other Google AI features that may not be popular that you might want to take a deeper dive into.

What is Google Lens?

[1]Google Lens enables you to point your phone at something, such as a specific flower, and then ask Google Assistant what the object you’re pointing at is. You’ll not only be told the answer, but you’ll get suggestions based on the thing, like nearby florists, in the case of a flower.

Other examples of what Google Lens can do include being able to take a picture of the SSID sticker on the back of a Wi-Fi router, after which your phone will automatically connect to the Wi-Fi network without you needing to do anything else. Yep, no more crawling under the cupboard to read out the password while typing it in your phone. Now, with Google Lens, you can point and shoot.

Google Lens will also recognize restaurants, clubs, cafes, and bars, presenting you with a pop-up window showing reviews, address details, and opening times. It’s the ability to recognize everyday objects that are impressive. For example, it will identify a hand and suggest the thumbs-up emoji, which is a bit of fun but point it at a drink, and it will try and figure out what it is.

We tested this functionality with a glass of white wine. It didn’t suggest white wine to us, but it did offer a whole range of other alcoholic drinks, letting you then tap through to see what they are, how to make them, and so on. That shows that, while Lens is fast and clever, it’s not always accurate.

We’ve also tested it with many garden plants and found it a handy way of finding out what you have grown.

What can Google Lens do?

Aside from the scenarios described above, Google Lens offers the following features:

  1. Translate: You can point your phone at text and, with Google Translate plugging in, live to translate text in front of your very eyes. This can also work offline.
  2. Brilliant Text Selection: You can point your phone’s camera at text, then highlight that text within Google Lens, and copy it to use on your phone. So, for instance, imagine pointing your phone at a Wi-Fi password and being able to copy/paste it into a Wi-Fi login screen.
  3. Intelligent Text search: When you highlight text in Google Lens, you can also search that text with Google. This is handy if you need to look up a definition of a word, for instance.
  4. Shopping: If you see a dress you like while shopping, Google Lens can identify that piece and similar articles of clothing. This works for just about any item you can think of, accessing shopping or reviews.
  5. Google homework questions: That’s right, you can scan the question and see what Google comes up with.
  6. Search around you: If you point your camera around you, Google Lens will detect and identify your surroundings. That might be detailed on a landmark or details about types of food – including recipes.

[2]Ways Google Lens can make you more productive on Android

Psst: Come close. Your Android phone has a little-known superpower — a futuristic system for bridging the physical world around you and the digital universe on your device. It’s one of Google’s best-kept secrets. And it can save you tons of time and effort.

It’s a little somethin’ called Google Lens, and it’s been lurking around on Android and quietly getting more and more capable for years. Google curiously doesn’t make a big deal about it, and you’d have to go out of your way even to realize it exists. But once you uncover it, well, you’ll feel like you have a magic wand in your pocket.

At its core, Google Lens is best described as a search engine for the real world. It uses artificial intelligence to identify text and objects both within images and in a live view from your phone’s camera. It then lets you learn about and interact with those elements in all sorts of exciting ways. But while Lens’s ability to, say, identify a flower, look up a book, or give you info about a landmark is undoubtedly impressive, it’s the system’s more mundane-seeming productivity powers that are far more likely to find a place in your daily life.

So grab the nearest Android gadget, install the Google Lens app, if you haven’t already, and get ready to teach your phone some spectacularly helpful new tricks.

Google Lens Tricks:

Google Lens trick #1: Copy text from the real world

Google Lens’s most potent power and the one I rely on most frequently is its ability to grab text from a physical document — a paper, a book, a whiteboard, or anything else with words on it — and then copy that text onto your phone’s clipboard. From there, you can easily paste the text into a Google Doc, a note, an email, a Slack chat, or anywhere else imaginable.

[Get more Googley tips in your inbox every Friday with JR’s Android Intelligence newsletter. Exclusive extras await!]

To do that, open up the Google Lens app, tap the document icon, and aim your phone at the document. Within about a second, you’ll see Lens highlight the text.

Google Lens trick #2: Send text from the real world to your computer

Let’s face it: Most of us aren’t working only from our Android phones. If you need to get some real-world text onto your computer, Lens can handle that, too.

Just go through the same steps we did a second ago, but this time, look for the “Copy to computer” option in the panel at the bottom of the screen. As long as you’re actively signed into Chrome with the same Google account on a computer — any computer, whether it’s Windows, Mac, Linux, or Chrome OS — that option should appear.

Google Lens trick #3: Hear text from the real world read aloud

Maybe you’ve just been handed a lengthy memo, a printed-out brief of some sort, or a letter from your dear Aunt Sally. Whatever it is, give your eyes a breather and let Lens read it for you.

Just point your phone at the paper, exactly as we did before, and tap that document icon once more. Again, select whatever text you want — and this time, look for the little “Listen” option in the bottom-of-screen panel.

Tap that bad boy, and the Google Lens app will read the selected text aloud to you in a soothingly pleasant voice. Hey, Google: How about a bedtime story while we’re at it?

Google Lens trick #4: Interact with text from an image

In addition to the live stuff, Lens can pull and process text from images — including both actual photos you’ve taken and screenshots you’ve captured.

That latter part opens up some pretty exciting possibilities. Say, for instance, you’ve just gotten an email with a tracking number in it, but the tracking number is some funky type of text that annoyingly can’t be copied. (This seems to happen to me way too often.) Or maybe you’re looking at a web page or presentation where the text, for some reason, isn’t selectable.

Well, grab a screenshot — by pressing your phone’s power and volume-down buttons together — then make your way over to the Google Lens app. Tap the square-shaped photo icon in the app’s upper-right corner, select the screenshot you just captured, and then select the text you want.

From there, you can copy the text, send it to a computer, or perform any of Lens’s other boundary-defying tricks. Speaking of which:

Google Lens trick #5: Search for the text from any physical document or image

After you’ve selected any manner of text from within the Google Lens app, swipe your finger toward the left on the row of options in that bottom-of-screen panel — the one with “Copy text,” “Copy to computer,” and so on. You’d never realize it from looking, but even more, options are hiding to the right of those initial choices.

One of them is the simple but handy “Search.” (And sometimes, Lens will even put related results right there in that bottom-of-screen panel, without any additional searching required.) Keep that in mind as a super-easy way to get info on any text from any physical document or captured image without having to manually peck in words on your own.


The power of AI is growing, and Google Lens is another example of how AI can be used in our daily lives.

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