What Is Google Lens?

Use images to Google it

Google Lens is an app that analyzes images to display relevant information and perform other tasks. The app works with Google Photos, Google Assistant, and the built-in Android camera app. Google Lens also leverages artificial intelligence to work better and faster than earlier image recognition apps like the defunct Google Goggles.

In addition to integrating with apps like Google Assistant, Google Lens is available as a standalone app compatible with a range of devices.

Google Lens Is a Visual Search Engine

At a basic level, Google Lens is a visual search engine. It analyzes the visual data of an image to perform tasks based on the contents of the image.

For example, if you take a picture of a landmark and then tap the Google Lens shutter, Google Lens recognizes the landmark and pulls up relevant information from the internet. Depending on the landmark, this information can include a description, reviews, and contact information if it's a business.

Google lens in action

How Does Google Lens Work?

Google Lens is integrated into Google Photos and Google Assistant, so you can access it from those apps. If your phone can use Google Lens, you'll see an icon in your Google Photos app. Tapping that icon activates Lens.

Google lens icon on Android

When you use Google Lens, an image uploads from your phone to Google's servers, and that's when the magic starts. Using artificial neural networks, Google Lens analyzes the image to determine what it contains.

Once Google Lens figures out the content and context of a picture, the app provides you with information or gives you the option to perform a contextually appropriate action.

For instance, if you see a book sitting on your friend's coffee table, snap a picture and tap the Google Lens shutter icon. Google Lens automatically determines the author and title of the book, plus provides you with reviews and other details.

Using Google Lens to Capture Email Addresses and Other Information

Google Lens can also capture text to perform tasks such as sending emails, copying and pasting text, and making calls.

To use the text feature:

  1. In the Google app, go to the Search bar and tap the camera icon.

  2. Select Text in the lower menu bar, and aim your camera at something that includes text.

  3. Tap the Google Lens shutter.

    Capturing text with Google Lens
  4. Depending on what you took a picture of, one or more of the following options appear beneath the image:

    • Select All: Copy the text and paste it elsewhere.
    • Listen: Google Lens reads the text to you.
    • Call: Call a phone number.
    • Text: Send a text message.
    • Website: Go to a website.
    • Add Contact: Add contacts to your contacts list.

    If you don't see the option you're looking for, tap text in the image (for example, an email address or phone number) to view the related options.

    Choosing to email, call, etc. in Google Lens.

Shopping With Google Lens

Google Lens makes shopping a lot easier. So if you see a pair of jeans that you really want or if the decor at a friend's house gives you some good ideas, point Lens at the object of interest.

Using Google Lens to shop.

Google

When you point Lens at items like clothing or decor, Lens identifies those items, or visually similar items, and provides information like reviews and shopping links.

Google Lens and Google Maps

One of the coolest and most useful implementations of Lens is its integration with Google Maps. This integration creates a futuristic augmented reality experience that can provide real-time Google Street View directions and pull up information about local businesses.

Using Google Maps with Google Lens

Google

This type of augmented reality isn't designed for use when driving, but it can be helpful when you're walking around an unfamiliar city.

Google Lens and Google Assistant

Google Assistant is Google's virtual assistant built into Android phones, Google Home, and other Android devices. It's also available as an app for iPhones.

Assistant is a way to interact with your phone by talking to it, but it also has a text option that allows you to type requests.

Google Lens' integration with Assistant allows you to use Lens directly from Assistant. When you tap a portion of the image, Google Lens analyzes it, and Assistant provides information or performs a contextually relevant task.

Using Google Assistant with Google Lens.

What Else Can Lens Do?

Depending on what you point Lens at, it can often go beyond returning search results and basic information. For instance, if you point it at a concert poster, Lens identifies the band and plays a relevant music video.

Google Lens playing music from a concert poster.

How to Get Google Lens on Your Android Phone

If you see the Google Lens icon in your Photos, Assistant, or built-in camera app, you have it on your phone. If you don't see the icon in any of those apps, you can still experience the fun of visual search by installing the Google Lens app on your Android device.

The Google Lens app won't integrate into your Google Assistant or other apps if your phone isn't compatible. However, you can perform visual searches from the Lens app.

Google Lens app download page on Google Play.

The Lens app doesn't work on all Android phones. If you have multiple devices, visit the Google Lens app page on the Google Play Store and log in to your Google account. If the message near the top of the page says, "This app is compatible with your device," or "This app is compatible with some of your devices," then you can use Google Lens on one or more of your phones.

How to Get Google Lens on Your iPhone

There's no Google Lens app for iOS devices, but you can access Google Lens through the Google app:

  1. Download the Google app from the App Store.

  2. Open the Google app and select the camera icon in the Google Search bar.

  3. Aim Google Lens at the item to search and tap the Search icon to take a photo. Search results appear below the image.

    Using search function in Google Lens on iPhone

The first time you use Google Lens, you must grant Google permission to access your iPhone's camera. After that, you'll snap the search photos within Google Lens.

FAQ
  • How do you turn off Google Lens?

    Right now, Google doesn't give you a way to disable or remove Google Lens.

  • How do you use Google Lens in a web browser?

    When using the Chrome browser (version 92 and higher) on a mobile device, long-press an image and select Search image with Google Lens. Google Lens isn't available on a PC web browser, but you can use the Search Google for image option instead.

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