Google Lens is too cool for words. Gaining the ability to scan objects in real time and perform a series of related actions could only have been in movies a decade ago. Yet here we are. It’s been on Android since 2017. But if you’re using an iPhone, you’re out of luck.
While iOS doesn’t have a dedicated Google Lens app like Android does, the functionality is instead seamlessly integrated into the Google Photos and Google Search apps. Without further ado, let’s take a look at how you can use Google Lens in both apps.
1. Google Photos
Google Photos is a dedicated photo manager and backup tool, and an outstanding alternative to the default Photos app on iPhone and iCloud Photo Library (mainly because of unlimited backups). The app also lets you take advantage of the Google Lens functionality, but only after you take a photo. Pretty annoying if you want real-time Google Lens action, but you’re sure to find plenty of uses for it regardless.
Stage 1: Download Google Photos to your iPhone. After installing the app, launch it and then sign in with your Google Account credentials.
Step 2: Google Photos will ask you to give permission to access your photo library. Provide this.
Then you can decide if you want to set up Google Photos to back up your media library – choose High Quality for unlimited uploads of photos and videos in compressed quality or Original to upload in original quality.
Stage 3: All existing photos will appear in the Google Photos gallery, along with any new ones you’ve taken. Select an image and then tap the little Google Lens icon at the bottom of the screen.
Google Lens will kick in. You can touch the area you want the picture to focus on. Or you can wait a bit for Google Lens to point out any points of interest (as colored circles), if any.
Google Lens will then display a matching description of the object you’re focusing on and options to obtain additional information. Certain specific actions are also recommended depending on what is included in an image.
For example, text can be copied to the clipboard; contact information can be added directly to the Contacts application; phone numbers Phone app etc. instantly searchable. Give it a try – you’ll be surprised at some of the suggestions.
2. Google App
Google Search (Google app) is an absolute must on your iPhone. It takes into account all your Google search history across platforms and offers targeted feeds (news, stock information, live sports scores, etc.). It also has web browsing features complete with Incognito mode. And unlike Google Photos, it’s the closest thing it can get to a dedicated Google Lens app. This means you can scan items in real time.
Stage 1: Install the Google app, run it, and sign in to your Google Account when prompted.
Step 2: You will come across a Google Lens icon directly in the search bar. Tap it and then grant the app the permissions it needs to access your camera.
Stage 3: Point the camera at the object you want to scan and wait a few seconds. As with Google Photos, the Google app automatically detects multiple locations of interest within the space, if any. Or if you want to speed things up, you can tap the area you want to focus on.
You can then take any of the suggested actions depending on the object you are scanning. While it’s pretty much the same compared to what you get with Google Photos, you tend to get slightly better and more accurate recommendations overall. Maybe it’s the fact that Google Lens has more information to produce meaningful results when scanning in real time. This is something to keep in mind.
Choose Your Favorite
As you can see, there are two ways to use Google Lens on your iPhone and iPad. Admittedly, the functionality available in Google Photos sounds a bit restrictive, but that’s understandable given the fact that it’s a dedicated photo manager. If you want to scan objects in real time without cluttering your camera roll, the Google app is your best bet.
Here is a video showing you how to install and use Google Lens on your iPhone:
Regardless, the future of Google Lens looks promising and who knows – the iPhone may soon have a dedicated app with even better functionality. So, what’s your preferred way to use Google Lens? Or are you planning to use both apps? Leave a comment and let us know.
Next: Google Lens isn’t the only bad boy in town. Check out how it stacks up against Pinterest Lens.