I remember a few years ago seeing a demo on TV of a program for Android that let you point at objects and could then identify what they are. So cool. Can my Pixel 3 do this trick or do I need an app?
You’re most likely talking about the fantastic feature known as Google Lens. It’s not a standalone app, however, it’s actually integrated into the Camera app on modern Android phones and works using the same basic engine as a Google image search does if you upload an image to identify But it’s no longer the only show in town because the Amazon app for Android (and iPhone) has offered this sort of feature for quite a while too. For example, point either at a book cover and it’ll identify the book and offer up information on the author, ratings, etc. Amazon, no surprise, includes a “buy” link too.
As a historical note, Google Lens is actually based on an earlier product called “Google goggles”. My guess is that people had a really hard time spelling that correctly, somehow. Tip: If it’s not built into your Camera app, you can check the Google Play Store for the standalone app version of Google Lens too.
Let’s say I’m chatting with someone at a café and they tell me that the book they’re reading is terrific. Old school would be to write down the title, but with Google Lens, it’s a much simpler process. I mean, you could just take a photo of the cover…
But see where in the Camera app it says “More” on the lower right? Tap on that and you’ll see your Camera app has all sorts of cool additional features and capabilities. This varies by Android model – the Pixel 3 has the most of all, which is pretty sweet! – and here’s the list:
Quite a few things to explore, but for now, just tap on “Lens” on the screen to proceed.
You’ll have to grant the app (apparently it’s still somewhat a separate app) access to the Camera and your photos, but that’s quickly done and only necessary the first time you use Google Lens. Then you’ll just jump right into the Lens camera view:
What you want to look for here is the circle superimposed over the image. If you get one (and it’s not always blue) that means you can tap on the circle to see what Google Lens has identified in the image. In my example, of course, we want a link to the book…
There we go! You can see that it’s correctly identified the book and offered up a link to a page about the book on Wikipedia. A solid hit! Of course, if youw ant to purchase the book it’s on you to figure out how to go from here to a purchase, but turns out that’s where the Amazon app is great.
Of course, it’s also somehow decided that Gangsta Rap Music – Radio Stations is a match too, but we’ll cut it some slack because the book info is so good. Rating, prie, links to the Kindle and audio editions. Darn useful!
Back to Google Lens, you can use it for all sorts of things, not just books. For example, if I point it at my watch:
And yes, if you’re curious, the first match – the Casio Pro Trek PRG600YB-3 – is exactly the watch that’s on my wrist. Nice trick, Google Lens! Now you try it and let us know how it worked!
Pro Tip: I’ve been writing Android tips and help for a long darn time. Please check out all my Android help while you’re here!