GearBrain

Google Lens Review: Search anything you can see with your eye

The new, revamped Google Goggles can help you search for things with just a glance

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Have you ever wanted to look something up on Google, but couldn't remember the name or frankly any detail that you could describe with words? Perhaps you wanted to the exact accent chair your friend just put in her living room, but you didn't want to come off like you were copying them? Google Lens is about to make that simpler for you.

A revamped version of Google Goggles, Lens is an augmented reality app for your smartphone that searches for things in your everyday life. You can copy on-camera text, identify plants and animals, discover media, scan different codes — and yes, look up products that are similar to the ones you scan. Lens can even guess what you're trying to look through in its app, and give suggestions.

Lens has you look at something through your smartphone's camera, and then pulls up Google search resultsGearBrain

The app itself has no menu, additional buttons or toggles to engage. You just open the camera, and select an option to send feedback to Google. On the screen, sparkling white dots will phase in and out, then appear more abundant when Google recognizes something familiar. If it really zeroes in on something, a big blue dot will appear, prompting you to tap on it.

Once you scan something, Lens then decided whether it can identify what you took a picture of — or not. If it can't tell exactly what you're looking at, the app will guess, using the line "Looks like a…" Under that will be a drop down menu.

If Lens does recognize your object, you're free to search through Google. I took a picture of my Nalgene water bottle at first and although it took a few tries to get it right, Google finally managed to pull up the company for me — same with my wireless earphone case.

Search options can also include similar items to buy through Google resultsGearBrain

When I photographed something more generic — like the chandelier of a room where I was standing — I was pretty surprised that it recognized the object and searched for products like the one I was looking at. Although I probably don't require a chandelier for my tiny NYC apartment, it was cool to know that I could find one if I wanted.

There's also an option for the app to read out loud its results and information — perfect for anyone with that need

If you have the extra phone space, I do think Lens is an interesting and useful tool to search things visually, rather than always trying to find the right words. But really, this free app is just a search engine made for the increasingly augmented reality world, one that leaves me wondering where Google will go next.

Cons:

  • Not always being able to recognize an object
  • No extra components or options other than searching
  • Would like to see this as an online tool rather than an app

Pros:

  • Well developed interface
  • Super easy to use
  • Isn't glitchy at all.
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