Google Lens is way too cool for words. Scanning objects in real time and gaining the ability to perform a host of relevant actions would’ve only happened in the movies a mere decade ago. Yet here we are. Android had it since 2017. But if you are on an iPhone, you aren’t out of luck.
While iOS doesn’t have a dedicated Google Lens app like on Android, the functionality is seamlessly integrated into the Google Photos and Google Search apps instead. So without any further ado, let’s check out how you can go about using Google Lens on both apps.
Note: You need a Google Account to start using both Google Photos and Google Search. If you don’t have an account, considering creating one. It’s free.
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1. Google Photos
Google Photos is a dedicated photo manager and backup tool, and a phenomenal replacement to the default Photos app and iCloud Photo Library (mainly due to unlimited backups) on iPhone. The app also lets you make use of Google Lens functionality, but only after you’ve taken a photo. Quite annoying if you want some real-time Google Lens action, but you are sure to find plenty of uses for it regardless.
Step 1: Download Google Photos onto 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 provide permissions to access your photo library. Grant that.
Next, you can decide whether you want to set up Google Photos to back up your media library — choose High Quality for unlimited photo and video uploads at compressed quality, or Original to upload them at original quality.
Step 3: Any existing photos, as well as newer images that you shoot, will show up in the Google Photos gallery. Select a picture, and then tap the tiny Google Lens icon to the bottom of the screen.
Google Lens will kick in. You can tap on the area of the image where you want it to focus on. Or you can wait a moment to let Google Lens denote any points of interest (in the form of colored circles) if any.
Google Lens will then display a matching description of the object that you focused on, along with options to gain additional information. Certain specific actions are also suggested depending on what’s included within an image.
For example, text can be copied over to the clipboard; contact details can be added to the Contacts app directly; phone numbers can be called instantly via the Phone app, etc. Give it a spin — you’ll be surprised at some of the suggestions.
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2. Google App
Google Search (the Google app) is an absolute must-have on your iPhone. It takes into account your entire Google search history across platforms and delivers targeted feed (news, stock info, live sports scores, etc.). It also features web-browsing capabilities complete with an Incognito mode. And unlike with Google Photos, it’s also the closest possible thing to have next to a dedicated Google Lens app. Which means that you can scan items in real-time.
Step 1: Install the Google app, fire it up, and then sign into your Google Account when prompted.
Step 2: Straight up, you’ll be greeted with a Google Lens icon within the search bar. Tap it, and then provide the app the permissions required to access your camera.
Step 3: Point the camera at the object that you want to scan, and wait for a couple of seconds. Just like with Google Photos, the Google app will automatically detect multiple positions of interest within the area if available. Or you can tap on the area that you want it to focus on if you wish to speed things up.
You can then perform any of the suggested actions depending on the object that you scanned. While it’s pretty much the same compared to what you get with Google Photos, you do tend to receive slightly better and more accurate suggestions overall. Perhaps it’s the fact that Google Lens has more information to generate meaningful results when scanning in real-time. That’s something to keep in mind.
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Pick Your Favorite
As you saw, you have two ways to use Google Lens on your iPhone and iPad. Admittedly, the functionality present in Google Photos feels a tad restrictive, but that’s understandable given the fact that it’s a dedicated photo manager. If you just want scan objects in real-time without cluttering up your camera roll, then the Google app is your best bet.
Here's a video showing how to install and use Google Lens on your iPhone:
Regardless, the future of Google Lens looks promising, and who knows — the iPhone may get a dedicated app with even better functionality soon. So, what’s your preferred way to use Google Lens? Or do you plan to utilize both apps? Do drop in a comment and let us know.
Next up: Google Lens isn’t the only bad boy in town. Check out how it stacks against Pinterest Lens.