At its 2018 Google I/O conference, the Mountain View company has announced a series of new features for its Google Lens and now they have begun rolling out to all devices.
Google Lens, an AI-powered technology designed to show any relevant information using visual analysis, has been redesigned and received new functionality, plus extended availability in camera apps.
For those not familiar with the technology, let’s first explain how Lens works. Basically, users who have the app on their phones can point their device at an object, such as a flower, and then ask Google Assistant what that thing is. Google Lens will immediately bring up the answer for them, and additionally it will offer suggestions based on that specific object. Quite cool, right?
Lens is integrated with the Google Photos and Google Assistant apps to do all this. Initially, it was only available on Pixel phones, but as of May 2018 it began being integrated into camera apps of various other Android phones.
Well, this already amazing application has received an improvement now, to make it even better. The update that has begun rolling out includes new augmented reality features like real-time object detection, smart text selection, and product matching. Lens can identify Text, Products, Books & Media, Places, and Barcodes. In order to identify objects, landmarks and for improved accuracy, Lens uses artificial neural networks.
This means that, when you point your phone, and implicitly Google Lens, at an object, it will basically identify and add interactive elements to it. It will be able to pull text from a specific object you might be interested in, in the form of a phone number, address, date, or other similar information. More than that, Lens will then find similar products in front of you and allow you to shop for them, in case of furniture and clothes, for instance.
Moreover, Lens is able to recognize cafes, bars, restaurants, clubs, and will provide you with a pop-up window showing relevant information about that venue, including address, opening times and reviews.
If you need another example of what it can do, here it is: you can take a photo of the SSID sticker on the back of a Wi-Fi router and your smartphone will then connect to the network automatically.
In regard to smart text selection, you should know that if you highlight some text in Google Lens, you will also be able to search that text with Google Assistant.
Besides these new features, the Google Lens update is also rolling out alongside a new and updated interface with quite obvious changes. After applying the update, when you bring up Google Lens (you can do this by opening Google Assistant and tapping the Lens button), you will see a white pull-up interface.
The new bottom-placed rounded card for the app will enlarge to show you results and will also show you a new intro prompt with details about its capabilities and instructions on how to use Lens. This new card replaces the old interface and the big bubble buttons that allowed you to select what actions you wanted to take.
Unfortunately for some, the change means you will take some getting used to, as some functionality is missing from the new Lens layout, like the “Remember this,” “Import to Keep” and “Share” shortcuts.