Google has made a rare addition to its homepage in the form of a Google Lens image search button.
As highlighted by Google’s VP of Engineering, Rajan Patel, Google doesn’t make changes to its homepage very often. The Google.com of today is startlingly similar to the Google of many years ago, at least on a surface level.
That makes the addition of a new icon all the more noteworthy. Head over to the Google homepage and you’ll now find a Lens camera icon to the right edge of that famous search field, encouraging you to “Search by image“.
Click on the icon and an expanded field will appear, encouraging you to drag or upload images to form the basis of a search. You can also paste in an image link to similar effect.
The ensuing search results will return similar images, but will also provide results on what Google understands the content to be. It might identify plant or animal species, or feed you shopping results if it detects a product.
Dragging in images of text will digitise that text, and translate it if it’s in a foreign language, while it also acts as a QR reader, as anyone who’s recently sought to scan a QR code using their Android phone’s camera app will attest to.
As that suggests, Google Lens has been around since 2017, when it started out as a feature of the company’s Pixel phones. It’s since made its way to all Android and iOS phones, via the Google app, and more recently onto desktops.
In future, Google Lens will be able to analyse the scene you’re looking at and provide similar context in real time.