At last year's Google I/O Google made a big deal out of Google Lens, which was built into the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. Fast-forward a year and at I/O 2018 it announced that Google Lens will be built into the Camera app (from next week!) and that it has some exciting new features.

Most exciting of these is the fact Google Lens can now recognise words. Smart text selection allows it to copy and paste text directly from the camera app, and to perform a search on a phrase seen in the camera view. 

Google also talked up a new style-match service and real-time results. Eventually it wants Google Lens to relay information over the screen as you walk about with your camera.

So what exactly is Google Lens?

Google Lens is a smart camera app that can read and actually understand the information within your images. We’re not talking about the image metadata, but the places, names and even Wi-Fi passwords depicted in your photos. It can then offer up intelligent ways to deal with that information. Also see: How to reverse image search

What is Google Lens is perhaps best answered with some examples: take a photo of a router’s password sticker and you’ll automatically connect to that network; snap a picture of an unknown plant and automatically identify it in Google search results; photograph foreign text for a translation; take a photo of a theatre billboard and bring up the Google Assistant to book tickets; or take a screenshot of a phone number and quickly bring it up in the dialer to call it.

Integration with Google Photos means even more information is available after the event, for example it can match your image to online data to work out what is that landmark you photographed earlier.

There are also some clever context-aware editing tools: during the demo, Google showed how its new app could digitally remove the links of a chain fence to reveal a baseball player standing behind.

When is the Google Lens release date?

Google Lens was first available on the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, released in late 2017. Google has now announced Google Lens will be built into the Android Camera app from next week (mid-May).

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