Google has been integrating its Lens image recognition tech into several of its products for quite a while now, including Google Photos and Chrome, but now it’s putting it front and center. As 9to5Google points out, Google’s added a Lens button right to its home page, in its famous search bar. That’s a big deal, according to Rajan Patel, a vice president of engineering at Google who’s in charge of Search and Lens — as he said on Tuesday, the Google homepage doesn’t change often.
Clicking on the Lens button (a little camera in Google-y colors) prompts you to upload an image or paste a URL to one. Once you do so, you’ll be taken to a page that’s pretty familiar if you’ve ever used the Lens app or any of its other integrations.
Google Images has let you search for similar-looking pictures for quite a while now, but Lens goes well beyond that; it also tries to give you information about what’s in the picture. If you scan a picture of a product, you’ll be greeted with shopping results, and if you upload a picture of a plant or animal, Google will do its best to tell you what it is, with plenty of images that you can use to cross-reference.
It didn’t quite nail the breed of cat, but it did its best.
There’s also several other built-in features. If you scan an image containing text you’ll be able to copy and even translate it. And if you scan a QR code it’ll give you info about it. Google also gives you a link to do a reverse image search to find out where it came from.
Again, none of these features will come as a surprise to those who have used Lens on Android and iOS, and some of them are even built into desktop operating systems like macOS. But for those using systems without those features, an easy-to-access version of Lens could become a very handy multi-tool for images.