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Google Lens – You Can Now Turn Your Camera Into A Search Box

Updated on: Dec 28, 2017

Wondering what Google Lens is and how it allows you to turn your camera into a search box? Let’s break it down for you. This blog has the answers to everything you need to know about Google Lens. 

Did you see something unique or interesting today? And then searched for it on Google and got your desired result? Or were you left without a concrete answer hoping that you could search in a much more convenient way? 

Well, the ever so awesome tech wizards at Google have come up with a solution to make your life simpler. The solution is Google Lens.

Google Lens

With Google lens “Search”, how we access information is about to get a whole lot easier. During Google’s annual developer conference (I/O), CEO Sundar Pichai announced Lens as a product that will change the dynamics of search.

What is Google Lens?

Let’s say you head down towards a local restaurant and want to know its ratings and menu. Would you as a user prefer to type the name of the restaurant? Wouldn’t you rather aim your camera at the restaurant and let the app do the hard work. 

That’s where Google lens comes in. It lets you do exactly what we mentioned above. And the lens won’t just recognize which restaurant it is, it’ll also showcase Google’s restaurant ratings and other relevant info (“hours” and “menu”) right there on the screen.

What lens aims to do is bring together Google’s Computer vision and AI to provide users with smart answers.

So that you as a user are able to get quick on the spot information that is both relevant and smart.

Google Lens perfectly encapsulates Google’s shift towards being an ”AI-first” company. The lens enables you to access the internet in a new way: Through your camera.

AI that uses computer vision has existed in the technology space for quite some time now. What sets “Google lens” apart? It is its ability to go beyond what companies have attempted before.


Google Lens

Does Google Lens reinvent search?

We live in a generation wherein an image can be translated into a thousand words. As more and more users prefer to communicate on visual mediums, Companies should be active on such platforms. Google hence over here pushes lens as a product that talks to such users who prefer to “snap over text”.

For such users, traditional mediums of search tend to lose traction. Hence it is practical for Google to invent and implement, apps that cater to these users. The lens is able to do just that with the least amount of input from your side. Perfect for the current user generation.

With positive reception, a visual search engine could be a game-changer for e-commerce platforms. Imagine not having to type the product name on Google, Instead just take a snap of it and be able to get all the details you want.

For e-commerce companies like Amazon and Flipkart, upcoming technologies like the lens have changed how we shop online.

Google Lens

How can I use Google Lens on my phone? 

For iPhones: 

Google Lens in the Google app is only available in English.

  1. On your iPhone, open the Google app.
  2. In the search bar, tap Lens. If you haven’t used Lens before, tap Turn on the camera to use Lens.
  3. On your screen, tap the item. To select the text, tap a word, then tap it again and drag the blue dots.
  4. At the bottom, tap a result or Search.

For Android: 

  1. On your Android phone, open Lens.
  • With your Google Assistant: Say “Ok Google.” At the bottom right, tap Lens. 
  • On some Android phones, like Pixel: Open your device’s Google Camera app > More >Lens. 
  • If you don’t see the Lens icon, Lens can’t find info about objects around you on your phone.
  1. Point your camera at an item.
  2. On your screen, tap the item. To select the text, tap a word, then tap it again and drag the blue dots.
  3. Tap Speak. 
  4. Ask a question or say a command, like:
  • What is this?
  • How tall is this?
  • Add this to Google Keep.

What can I use Google Lens for?

You can use the lens for queries as you would Google’s basic search browser. However, the utility of the lens is towards providing you with on the spot information. Using computer vision and augmented reality to give smart answers that pertain to your current scenario

You would be using the lens for a variety of uses that range from “getting reviews of a book” or “booking a table a restaurant by clicking an image of it”.

Here are a few cool things lens can do:

  • Tell you the type of flower by getting a view of it through your phone’s camera.
  • Get the router password and log you into the network with a snap from the lens.
  • Offer you essential information about restaurants or grocery stores like the “hours” or “ratings”.

Lens being AI centred falls perfectly in place with the overall objective of Google which is to transition into an “AI-first company” and make computing less device-centric.

The lens is a prime example of being less device-centric at least on mobile.

Google Lens

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What more is Google lens capable of doing?

Here is a list of what lens can identify:

  • Artwork
  • Barcodes
  • Books
  • Buildings
  • Landmarks
  • Media covers

Also, Lens can perform tasks such as:

  • Add contacts from a business card
  • Language translation
  • Look up product information
  • Open web addresses in your browser

Google Lens

Is Google becoming AI-centric?

Google Lens is Google’s push towards getting AI into the real world and is a way for them to attract younger users towards adopting newer forms of visual media. This is being done by using machine learning, AI, and computer vision.

This preference of younger users towards instant social media networks makes the lens a good platform for them to access and use as a visual search engine

Google has done a smart thing by releasing lens only on Google photos, first as it is one of the most widely used Google apps and has a solid user base of half a billion users in less than 2 years of its launch.

With Lens, Home and a larger focus on AI Google is getting itself ready for the future of consumer technologies and computing as a whole.

We have seen this wave before in other technology giants such as Amazon with its own AI Alexa and home device Echo. Even Microsoft has made its presence felt with Cortana coming to more and more devices. 

These technologies which also implement machine learning and AI have taken the consumer electronics market by storm. It is only sensible for companies to go AI and focus on the future of computing which is less device-centric.

Google Lens

Google Lens in the bigger picture

AR and computer vision that amalgamate to make Google lens is a pathway for Google to pull us towards the future of technology and showcase a small glimpse of what is to come.

The idea behind lens focuses on Google’s original models of efficiency which shot it towards fame and made it the most widely used search engine that it is today.

Google lens is being operated by using machine learning, AI, and computer vision. Lens tries to make sense of your photos to provide relevant and real-time information straight to your screens with minimal effort from your side.

The technological change from older user input methods to newer machine recognized computing is a factor that most businesses must take into consideration

Devices of the future are to see and make sense of the world as we do as of now and that must be done without the need for user input.

To be ahead of such technological advancements and be a part of this revolution, train with IIDE through our 3-month Online Digital Marketing Course in India

We hope this blog has been an interesting read for you. Leave us your views in the comments section below. 

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Huzaifa Dhapai

Founder at WebVerge and Team Lead in Business Technology at IIDE

Huzaifa Dhapai is an experienced founder with a demonstrated history of working in the internet industry. A tech enthusiast. He always writes about Tech and Android and is an expert in Google AdSense and Google Data Studio......[Read full bio]


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