At I/O 2018, Google demonstrated new functions that would soon come to Google Lens. Not all devices would receive the updates, and not all updates were said to roll out right away, but the first batch just reached my phone and many other handhelds as well.
Google Lens has been available for Pixel devices and some high-end Android phones. The vision-processing and recognition technology last arrived in Google Photos and the Google Assistant for some devices. This week, the roll out is expanding and some new features are being added. Now, Google Lens can search and find information related to objects in the real world environment, all in real-time with help from the Google Assistant. This is attributed to on-device machine learning capable of identifying objects, words and places almost instantly. This could prove to be the game-changer many have been anticipating, and the functionality will expand to more users through more apps with time.
For now, a new user interface, smart text selection and the expanded camera function are arriving for some device owners. Exactly who that is has not been specified, since Google never made a public announcement that the features were rolling out. However, I’ve only been able to trigger the functions on devices running Oreo or newer. The update is server-side and rolling out slow. You’ll be notified via an intro prompt shall you get it on your device. This will explain some of the new capabilities including a suggestion menu screen and microphone shortcut. Some users are also seeing the Style Match function that allows for the discovery of new items that are related to visual styles recognized through the camera lens. This will be super useful for those into fashion and will completely change how people match various unrelated items in their home to fit a common theme.
These upgrades are a big step in the right direction for Google. Fragmentation has limited the number of devices with Google Lens thus far, so it will be some time before these features reach a substantial number of users outside Pixel. If you have the features working or know somebody who does, drop a comment letting us know the compatible device so we can try to narrow down who’s getting the upgrades now and who’s not. Google tends to be random with these updates, so I’d expect more devices to gain eligibility over the coming weeks. As always, if you have everything up to date, the odds you’ll receive the update will be at their highest.