What is Google Lens?

Google Lens is an app that gives you information about objects and places in the real world around you. Google Lens uses image recognition and artificial intelligence to find useful information about the images you show it. For example, you can take a picture of a plant or tree and use Google Lens to identify it or snap a restaurant sign and get information such as opening hours and menus. It can even translate foreign text for you. In a nutshell, Google Lens is like applying the power of Google's search engine to the physical world around you.

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The app has different functions, so it knows the type of information you want, whether translation, shopping, dining, or something else. If you let Google Lens know your location, it uses this to tailor the results. Let's say you're in London and ask it to identify a particular place or landmark; knowing your location will help narrow down the results to give you something as relevant as possible.

Google Lens is available as an app and is built-in to Google Photos on Android phones. For smartphones that run on other operating systems, like iPhones, you can access Google Lens through the Google app or Google search.

What is Google Lens used for?

Google Lens is a versatile tool you can use in many ways. For example:

  • You can take a picture of an object or item and use the search function in Google Lens to find similar objects. If you see a product and want to find out if it's available online, Google Lens can find it. Or you might see a plant or flower you like and want to know what it is; Google Lens can identify it and give you information about how to look after it and which environments it likes to grow in. You can even do the same with animals!
  • If you take a picture of a label, barcode or QR code, Google Lens can give you relevant information such as ingredients and stockists.
  • When visiting somewhere new, Google Lens can inform you about buildings, landmarks, venues, opening hours, and reviews. At pubs, cafes and restaurants you can get menu and booking details.
  • You can use Google Lens to add calendar events instantly – take a picture or screenshot of the event details, for example, from a leaflet, poster or ticket, and it can create the calendar event for you with the details.
  • Google Lens can translate foreign text from a document, product, sign, magazine, or menu – anywhere you can think of. The app will overlay the foreign text with the translation. There's a dropdown menu for you to choose from the languages available in Google Translate.
  • Suppose you'd like to copy text from a non-digital source such as a leaflet, page, business card, recipe, or magazine. Google Lens can use optical character recognition to convert the text from an image to editable text. You can then use the text in a document, email, message or even copy and paste it from your phone to your computer when your Google account is open on the computer.
  • Another neat trick the Google Lens can perform is helping you connect instantly with a Wi-Fi network. If you open Google Lens and point the camera at a Wi-Fi network name and password (for example, printed on a router), it can connect without you manually entering the details.
I use Google Lens for looking up items, products, plants, and anything in between that I’m not sure how to name. It could be a house plant or a piece of furniture I like and may want to buy, and Google Lens will always come up with useful results. I also use it a lot when I’m travelling to read street signs, information boards etc. And I absolutely loved it on holidays to quickly translate restaurant menus and other info in a foreign language. It’s accessible for both Android and iPhone users that download Google browser, as it’s incorporated to it, and sits conveniently next to the search field window.
Beata Lisowska, Google Lens user

How to use Google Lens

Here are different ways to use Google Lens on your device:

How can Google Lens help people with sight loss?

Google Lens can help people with sight loss navigate the world around them, from identifying objects and places to making text and information more accessible. Google Lens can be used with other accessibility features, such as large text and text-to-speech, making it even more helpful if you have low vision or sight loss. Some examples of how Google Lens can help are:

You can use the text function to scan text that's small and hard to read, for example, on packaging, labels, and information leaflets. Once Google Lens has captured the text, you can use text-to-speech to listen to it.

  • You can use Google Lens to identify buildings and places, letting you check you're in the right place and quickly find useful information such as opening hours and visitor information. This function is improved if you let Google know your location.
  • The search function can help you identify plants, animals and other objects which you might not be able to see clearly.
  • You can use Google Lens to scan barcodes and bring up product and shopping information, which can be handy if you want to find out more about an item but can't easily read or see the packaging.

Frequently asked questions

Did you know that there are many other tools and devices available that can help you navigate your needs with vision impairment?