Google Lens, the company’s visual search engine that can recognize what’s in your images and scan business cards, among other things, is now rolling out to all Google Photos users on Android. This marks Google’s first major expansion for Lens, which was previously only available to those who had access to the latest Pixel phones. On those phones, Lens also is available through the Google Assistant, but that feature isn’t rolling out to all Android users yet.
Google promises that Lens in Google Photos will roll out to iOS users “soon,” but it’s unclear when exactly this will happen.
Lens can be both frustrating and quite useful — though it never feels indispensable. When it works, it works really well. And while you probably don’t need Lens to tell you that you are standing in front of the Eiffel Tower (unless you are really jet lagged), the fact that it can show you more information about sights, including opening hours, is actually quite useful (though you could just as well do a quick search in Google Maps, too).
The ability to scan a business card is pretty useful, though, unless, of course, you’ve done away with business cards a long time ago and just use LinkedIn anyway.
Personally, I haven’t found much use for Lens so far. It’s a nice parlor trick, but it’s easy to forget it exists. Over time, though, it may just get good enough that it’s easier to take a picture of a landmark or restaurant to get more information than searching for it with a keyword.
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