Technological advancements in the recent years have made humans achieve unimaginable feats.
One of those feats is the technology to use our smartphone cameras for object detection purposes. And when it comes to object detection applications, Google Lens ranks among the foremost names that come to our mind.
However, Google Lens is capable of doing much more than identifying simple objects. It can effectively perform other tasks like scanning documents, translating texts, finding products, and more.
This article will explain how you can utilize Google Lens to the fullest.
What is Google Lens?
Google Lens is an AI-backed tool that allows people to use their smartphone camera to detect various objects, scan documents, do shopping, translate texts, etc.
While Google Lens was initially available only for Pixel, today, it supports many devices.
If Google Lens is not pre-installed with your smartphone, you can install it from the Play Store (for Android).
Google Lens also lets you read QR codes, smart select texts, smart search, solve homework questions, search around you, and more.
Technology Behind Google Lens
As we mentioned already, Google Lens is AI-powered. Hence, the app utilizes deep machine learning, known as Tensor Flow, to train itself and provide its users with accurate results. It is pretty much a search engine for the world around you.
FYI, Google has stated that it uses computer vision, machine learning, and Google’s knowledge graph to recognize various texts or objects. With the introduction of Google Lens, Google has brought Augmented Reality to our fingertips.
Using your device camera, the app thoroughly analyzes what is in front of it and offers details in an instant. From identifying an unknown bird to discovering tourist attractions near you to translating street signs – Google Lens can do it all.
How Is Google Lens Different Than Typical Smartphone Cameras?
A typical smartphone is meant for clicking pictures and nothing more than that. With Google Lens residing within your native camera, however, you can elevate things manifold.
Being AI-powered, Google Lens effectively searches for objects and texts within a photo that you clicked using your device camera. Or, you can use it through live camera feeds.
Google Lens empowers you not only to see the world but also to scrutinize and augment it.
In other words, this simple app enhances your native camera’s abilities and turns it into a means of greater exploration of your surroundings.
Key Features of Google Lens
Let us now highlight some of Google Lens’ handiest features:
#1. Text Recognition and Translation
Google Lens offers text recognition and translation features for all its users. Although Google Lens did not have this facility in the beginning, a later update integrated Optical Character Recognition into the app.
Now, the app can detect texts within a picture and in real-time, along with live translation. For example, if you are abroad and cannot figure out what a signboard says in a foreign language, you can open Google Lens on your smartphone and put it in front of the text. By tapping the shutter button, you can make the app recognize and translate that text into your preferred language.
I find myself using this feature often to copy long texts from printed documents, which would otherwise require me to manually type everything on a word editor.
#2. Image Search
Image search is among the principal features of Google Lens. The tool can help you know about things around you.
It can also assist you in your shopping quests by discovering similar items to a product that may have grabbed your attention. For instance, suppose you are on your daily morning walk session and suddenly come across a flower species that looks eye-catching yet is unknown to you.
To identify what flower plant it is, simply take out your smartphone and search it with Google Lens. Within seconds, you will get answers to all your details.
I personally use it to look for variations of clothes that I like or the details of cars standing on the roads.
#3. Barcode and QR Code Scanning
Google Lens has a Barcode and QR code scanning that lets users scan barcodes and QR codes from a picture saved in their gallery or via live camera feeds. Then, the app reads that barcode/QR code and lets you know about the data embedded in it.
Here’s an example: suppose you have bought a new laptop manufactured by a reputed brand from your local seller who swears by its authenticity. However, if you are still doubtful, you can use Google Lens to scan the barcode/QR code on its box to verify if it is legit.
#4. Interpreting Reports
Google Lens can help users decipher reports that you may fail to comprehend. All you need to do is point your smartphone camera to take a picture of the said report, and Google Lens will quickly analyze what it has to say.
For example, if you went for a blood test whose report has arrived yet cannot understand certain medical terms and readings, you can place it in front of your phone camera and tap Google Lens’ shutter button. The results would contain details that may make way for easy interpretation.
#5. Google Photos Integration
In the later versions of Google Photos, you will see Google Lens built-in. Using this feature, one can scan the objects and texts within images directly from the Google Photos app.
You can also use it to recognize, copy, or translate texts, find similar products to shop, and detect architecture or landmarks, among others.
Let us see an instance: say you went to a street art festival and took a photograph of yourself there. Upon returning home and seeing the picture, you notice a cathedral behind that looks way too familiar, yet you are unable to remember what its name is. The Google Lens within your Google Photos can help you recognize it and eliminate your restlessness.
#6. Copying Content From One Device to Another
Google Lens can assist you in copying content across devices with ease. By pointing your mobile/computer camera at what you want to copy and tapping the shutter button, you can utilize Google’s OCR facility to speedily copy the content on that device.
For example, suppose you have an article on your smartphone and need to copy some of its paragraphs on your computer. In such a case, you just have to open Google Lens on the latter and easily copy those texts from the former using Google Lens’ fantastic Text Recognition.
Benefits of Using Google Lens
Now, let us see what benefits do individuals get from using Google Lens:
#1. On-the-go Learning
Whenever you come across something mesmerizing in your daily life, like a huge monument, stunning floret, or a lively-looking statue – Google Lens can tell you instantly what you are looking at. Plus, it can give you links to read about it in-depth if you want a better understanding.
#2. Skin Condition Detection
Google Lens can come in handy in identifying skin conditions. In case you feel uneasy about the rash or white patches on your skin, simply capture it via Google Lens.
The app will then run a search and give you results that look similar to your condition and their details. Doing so can give you a primary idea of what you are dealing with.
#3. Nearby Food Joint Discovery
Google Lens’ Multisearch can find nearby eateries that serve yummy food. Let’s say you saw a hoarding containing an image of a food item that looked delicious, yet you do not know what its name is.
Taking a picture of it using Google Lens will help you know its name. Also, if you type ‘near me’ in your search, it will give you a list of nearby restaurants that serve the dish.
How to access Google Lens on your device?
Below, we will take a look at how you can access Google Lens on different devices:
There are multiple ways to access Google Lens on Android.
First, you can simply open the ‘Google Lens’ app and start using it.
Second, you can launch the Google app and tap the ‘Google Lens’ icon on the right side of the search bar.
Third, one may say “Hey/OK Google” to launch Google Assistant and tap the ‘Google Lens’ icon at the bottom or ask your assistant to “Open Google Lens.”
Fourth, one can add the Google app widget to their home screen and then tap the ‘Google Lens’ icon to launch it.
Finally, users can access Google Lens through Google Photos.
Note that some OEM smartphones with stock Android let users access Google Lens directly via the Camera app.
Ways of accessing Google Lens on iOS devices are limited. The only ways to use Google Lens on your iPhone or iPad are through the Google app, Google app widget, and Google Photos. Unfortunately, there is no dedicated Google Lens app for iOS devices on the App Store.
#3. PC (Windows/macOS)
PC users, regardless of the OS, can use Google Lens in several ways.
First is by opening their browser and right-clicking on an image. Then, you have to click on ‘Search Image with Google Lens.’
The other way is via Google Search results. From the search results, click on the ‘Google Lens’ icon atop a photo to access Google Lens.
You can also utilize the Google Lens extension from the Chrome Web Store. Please note that it is a third-party solution and not from Google.
Note that macOS users with Safari browser can either paste an image link or upload/drag and drop a photo in Google Images.
Use Cases of Google Lens
Needless to say, Google Lens’ handy features make performing different tasks a cakewalk:
#1. Visual Translation For Text in Various Languages
Google Lens helps translate text on the spot in lots of international languages. This enables a seamless comprehension of what is written in a language unfamiliar to you.
#2. Identifying Objects, Landmarks, and Plants
No matter what you find during your day-to-day activities – be it an unknown rock, fabulous architecture, or a beautiful bonsai – Google Lens can recognize it in a jiffy.
#3. Adding Contacts From Business Cards
If someone gives you a business card, you can quickly copy their contact number utilizing Google Lens’ OCR technology and add it to your contacts.
#4. Exploring Recipes and Nutrition Information
When you capture an image of a food item with Google Lens, it can give you dynamic content, such as its recipe and nutritional value.
#5. Shopping with Product Recognition
Google Lens can take an image of a product to identify it and give you purchasable matches. When you see an online ad featuring cool merchandise or see a billboard while you are on the streets, simply search for it with Google Lens.
#6. Homework and Education Assistance
Google Lens can assist students with their homework-related problems by providing instructions on how to solve them.
Alternatives to Google Lens
Here are a few viable alternatives to Google Lens:
#1. Office Lens for Windows
Office Lens allows users to scan a photo, document, whiteboard, and business cards effortlessly, with each having a dedicated mode for the best possible output. It also comes equipped with OCR technology that helps the app extract texts in various languages from PDF files.
#2. Bixby Vision
Bixby Vision offers several convenient features like smart search, text extraction, scene describing, object recognition, real-time translation, etc. Besides, the app offers a color detection feature that reads out the colors of an object instantly.
Scan is an AR tool that identifies objects, solves homework problems, discovers more about your surroundings, and more. Also, using Scan, one can find a song, explore purchasable products, create augmented reality experiences, etc.
To conclude, Google Lens heightens the capabilities of your device’s native camera and aids you in diving into the world of Augmented Reality. Be it detecting buildings, scanning barcodes/QR codes, solving your child’s homework, or translating a foreign signpost – Google Lens can make your life easier.
This article explained newer ways to utilize the app’s incredible features. So don’t wait any longer. Start incorporating Google Lens in your everyday life ASAP and boost your convenience to an unforeseen extent. Good luck!