Google Lens was heavily touted at Google I/O 2017, and we’re finally starting to see some of its best features start to trickle out. Today, it got the ability to identify and select text from what it sees through your smartphone camera, and then provide results based on that text.

RELATED: The Best Stuff Google Announced at I/O 2017, In a Nutshell

To be clear, this is a feature that has been available in the Google Photos’ Lens feature for some time now, but it finally works in a live view within Assistant. This makes searching for results based on selected text much faster, because instead of having to take a picture and use Lens in Photos to find the text, you need only fire up Assistant and Lens.

Using Google Lens to Select Text

Accessing Lens in Assistant is pretty simple. First, long-press the home button on your phone to launch Assistant. Alternatively, you can say “OK Google” or “Hey Google” to launch the Assistant with your voice (assuming you have this feature enabled, of course).

From there, tap the Lens icon in the bottom right corner. This should open the camera inside of Assistant—if it’s the first time you’ve used this feature, you’ll need to grant it access to your camera.

Now just tap on the text you’d like to select. Lens will do its thing, highlighting all available text that it recognizes, then providing suggestions based on this text.


If you’d like to search a very specific piece of the text, you can long-press on the highlighted text to make a selection. Boom, there you go.

Profile Photo for Cameron Summerson Cameron Summerson
Cameron Summerson is ex-Editor-in-Chief of Review Geek and served as an Editorial Advisor for How-To Geek and LifeSavvy. He covered technology for a decade and wrote over 4,000 articles and hundreds of product reviews in that time. He’s been published in print magazines and quoted as a smartphone expert in the New York Times.
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