Google Photos on Android phones just got a cool new feature

Now you can access Google Lens straight from your photos

Samsung Galaxy S21
(Image credit: Samsung)

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.

Do you need a new Android phone to enjoy Lens on? We think the best Android phone is the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G and the best prices for that phone are below.

Paul Douglas
Global Digital Editorial Strategy Director, Future

Paul Douglas is Global Digital Editorial Strategy Director at Future and has worked in publishing for over 25 years. He worked in print for over 10 years on various computing titles including .net magazine and the Official Windows Magazine before moving to in 2008, eventually becoming Global Editor-in-Chief for the brand, overseeing teams in the US, UK and Australia. Following that, Paul has been Global Editor-in-Chief of BikeRadar and T3 (not at the same time) and later Content Director working on T3, TechRadar and Tom's Guide. In 2021, Paul also worked on the launches of and PetsRadar.