Google Lens has long been a handy tool that demonstrates the strength of Google’s various computer vision and AI capabilities. It has, however, mostly been limited to its smartphone incarnation where it admittedly has the most opportunities to be used. Google Lens, however, also has some features that can be useful even when not used in real-time, like when looking at images already stored on your computer. Thankfully, Google is slowly bringing those features to the desktop via Google Photos on a desktop web browser.
The basic way that Google Lens works is that it analyzes an image, usually from a live preview of what a phone’s camera is pointing at. Depending on the object, it can offer various functions like recognizing text or recognizing landmarks. From there, users can either copy the recognized text to be pasted in some other app or learn more about landmarks and places.
Google Lens on Android has grown to have various incarnations. There was once a dedicated app before it became integrated into Google Assistant and, later on, Google Photos. It also works on Google Image Search but only if you use it on a mobile device.
For the first time, Google is bringing a piece of Google Lens to the desktop but only inside Google Photos in a web browser. Opening up a photo with text pops up a small, almost unnoticeable option to “Copy text from image”. Clicking on that will start Google Lens’ OCR process, denoted by the sparkling lights on top of the photo. A sidebar will eventually appear with the words that it recognized.
At the moment, it seems that Google Lens’ functionality is limited only to text recognition. Given that it’s the first time Google Lens makes its way out of mobile, hopefully, the rest of its capabilities, like landmark recognition or shopping hints, will follow soon.