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Google Lens: 6 new features we can’t wait to try out

We all know Google as a powerhouse for search results when we’re entering text into a search engine, but the substantial improvements to Google Lens announced at Google I/O today effectively transform the AI service into a real-time search engine for the world around us—all with the help of on-board camera apps. 

Here’s what we’re looking forward to the most.

Augmented reality integration with Google Maps

Sometimes, especially in unfamiliar cities, it’s hard to tell which direction you’re facing, even when Google Maps shows you right where you’re standing.

nearbyplacesGoogle

It’s also a good way to check out reviews for nearby places.

Soon, though, you’ll be able to activate your camera in Google Maps and see helpful contextual information for the scene you’re looking at in the real world. Simply raise your camera, aim it at a scene, and you’ll see information about various businesses around you, as well as the names of the streets. Not only will this make it easier to gather your bearings, but it may even help you discover fun new restaurants you otherwise wouldn’t have noticed—even though they’re only a few steps away.

Smart text selection

Back when I was a graduate student, I often found myself wanting to easily copy text from books, and plug that material into research papers as excerpts. It seems as though I was simply born too late.

To wit: One of Google Lens’ best new features lets you select and render text simply by aiming your camera at it, almost as if you’d used your mouse to select it on a regular monitor. Presumably—accounting for possible problems with line breaks and spacing—you then simply paste the text into a text message or document.

Smart Text SelectionGoogle

Amazingly, you can even choose which specific text you want to select.

If this pans out as demo’d, it’s going to save so much time. For example, you could use Lens to capture the ingredients from a cookbook, and then send them via text to a friend buying groceries at the store. Or if you’re reading a menu written entirely in French, you could use Lens to get the precise definition for ris de veau, along with a photo of what the dish looks like as well as a description of its ingredients. This is information you need to know.

Granted, in some situations Google Lens technically adds an extra step since many of us are used to simply sending photos of printed text to friends anyway. But I could certainly see Lens being unbelievably useful for research cases, international travel, and many other scenarios.

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