Earlier this week Google held its I/O conference where it showcased some of the the new features it plans to introduce across its wide range of products.
The event, held in California, gave us a first glimpse of Android O, the next version of its mobile operating system, major improvements to Gmail and saw that Google is increasing its presence in the virtual reality market with the launch of its own VR headset.
Google also announced that it has now reached two billion users on Android and that it would be making its Google Assistant available on iPhone for the first time, challenging Apple’s Siri in her own backyard, so to speak.
However, arguably the highlight of the new features is a tool called Google Lens, which will change the way we use our smartphones.
Google Lens, which will be available in the upcoming Android O and in Google’s new VR headset uses image recognition to give you information at whatever you may be looking at.
Announcing the new feature, Google chief executive Sundar Pichai gave an example of how Google Lens will work.
He explained that you can simply point your smartphone’s camera at any flower and it will be able to identify the species.
Pichai also explained that Google Lens could be used to ‘read’ a password on the back of a wi-fi router. Instead of you having to type it in, simply take a snap of the password with your phone and your device will be able to connect to the wi-fi network automatically.
Alternatively, snap the signboard of a restaurant you are walking past and Google Lens will bring up information such as reviews and contact details for the restaurant in question.
Also announced were several new features to Google Photos.
One of the features gives users the ability to compile and then order printed albums of their photos. Google Photos will use image recognition to help select the best photos for you.
The albums will cost $9.99 for a softback version and $19.99 for hardback. Initially the service will launch in the US but will be rolled out to more countries over the next year.
Also added to Google Photos was a new smart sharing feature called Shared Libraries, which allows you to connect your account with one other person so that they can see the photos you upload. For example, the feature could let you share every photo you take of your kids with your wife.
Google Photos also added facial recognition that will automatically share photos of say a recent trip you made with friends or family who appeared in the photos.