Google Lens is one of those handy tools that Google has been quietly improving since it was first announced at Google IO in 2017. The app enables you to quickly get info from the world around you by using your phone camera – point your phone at an object and Google will do an image search for you to find out more about that object. You can also use it to translate text, see popular items on restaurant menus, identify plants and landmarks, and more.
Now, as spotted by Android Police, Google Lens can be accessed from directly within Google Photos. So if you're scrolling through your library of photos, a quick tap on the Lens icon (it's next to the trash icon when you're viewing a photo) and Google will launch Lens and try to identify that object for you.
If there's text in the image it'll let you copy it, copy it to your computer, search the web for that text, have it read aloud to you and translate it to another language. You could do that already in the Google Lens app but being able to use it from within Google Photos is new and a welcome addition.
As Android Police points out, Google has been implementing Lens functionality into other bits of its software for some time. You can also use it from within the Google Camera app, for example, and if you launch Google Assistant on your Android phone by saying "OK Google" you'll see a Lens icon that you can tap.
Depending on your phone, Lens may already be built into your camera app. If it's not there, then simply download it from the Play Store. On iPhone, Lens is built into the official Google app, which you can download from the App Store.
While you're playing around with Google Lens, there's lots more you can do with the app that may not be immediately apparent. Here are some examples that Google gives when you take a photo of the following things:
Clothing and home goods: Find similar products and where to buy them.
Barcodes: Use a barcode to find info about a product, like where to buy it.
Business card: Save the phone number or address to a contact.
Book: Get a summary and read reviews.
Event flyer or billboard: Add the event to your calendar.
Landmark or building: See historical facts, hours of operation, and more.
Painting in a museum: Read about the artist and learn more.
Plant or animal: Learn about species and breeds.