Google has been integrating its Lens image recognition technology into several of its products for quite some time, including Google Photos and Chrome, but now it’s putting it front and center. As 9to5Google points out, Google has added a Lens button to the homepage, in the famous search bar. That’s a big problem according to Rajan Patela vice president of engineering at Google in charge of Search and Lens — as he said Tuesday, Google’s homepage doesn’t change very often.
If you click the Lens button (a little camera in Google-y colors), you’ll be prompted to upload an image or paste a URL on it. Once you do this, you’ll be taken to a page that is fairly familiar if you’ve ever used the Lens app or any of its other integrations.
Google Images has allowed you to search for similar images for a while, but Lens goes way beyond that; it also tries to give you information about what is in the picture. If you scan an image of a product, you’ll be greeted with shopping results, and if you upload an image of a plant or animal, Google will do its best to tell you what it is, with plenty of images you can use to cross-reference.
There are also several other built-in features. If you scan an image that contains text, you can copy it and even translate it. And if you scan a QR code, you will get information about it. Google will also give you a link to search for an inverted image 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 are even built into desktop operating systems like macOS. But for those using systems without those features, an easily accessible version of Lens could become a very useful image multi-tool.