Google Photos is getting a really useful free update – and it's not just for Android

The new feature is rolling out to the Google Photos app for Android and for iOS too

Google Photos stock
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Google Photos is one of those apps that keeps on getting better, but not everybody knows how to get the most from it. To address that, Google is making one of its most useful features much clearer than before: the ability to recognise and interact with text in images using Google Lens technology.

The update, spotted by Android Police, adds new "chips" to the interface. These are little shortcuts that provide fast access to key features, and the new ones include "copy text", "listen", "crop" and "markup". There's also a shortcut to Google Lens, which duplicates the, er, shortcut to Google Lens that's already there in the form of a big button marked LENS.

This is still a work in progress

That duplication and the slightly odd appearance of the overlay on iOS suggests that the new interface tweaks are still being tested: as AP says, they're not appearing on everybody's phones just yet so it looks like Google's engineers are still fiddling with it.

If you can't wait to see the tweaks in action, you'll need to ensure that you have the most recent version of Google Photos from either the Google Play Store or the APK Mirror, or from the Apple App Store if you're on an iPhone. And then it's just a matter of checking the app from time to time to see if the feature's been made available to you yet.

I really like the way we've just become used to things like automatic text recognition in photos, and in apps such as Google Lens: something as simple as being able to call the number in a billboard is the kind of little triumph of tech that lightens the load in myriad little ways every day.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (