Google Photos’ innovative new text feature was detected by one of its users after the company secretly rolled out the feature on its phones, before finally making the news public earlier today.

According to Tech Radar, Hunter Walk, a famous venture capitalist noticed the Lens feature had been activated for his account, which is when he pointed out the new feature to Google on his Twitter account. Google then broke the news in a tweet replying to Walk:

This latest update resembles one announced by Google at their 2017 I/O developer conference where Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, unveiled a new feature that will allow an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered Lens camera to lift text from photos. So for instance, a user could point their camera at a Wi-Fi password and connect to the network automatically, without having to manually type it in.

Due to its AI technology, Google’s Lens platform allows users to search for text in photos and screenshots saved in their Google Photos library. This text can then be copied and pasted onto a note or document.

The technique uses optical character recognition (OCR) to identify and extract text from photos of a physical sign, screenshots, or even a document. 9to5Google reports that currently, this feature is only available on a handful of Android devices like the Samsung S9 and Huawei’s P30, but has yet to be rolled out on iOS devices.

Furthermore, users’ will not need to select photos to copy text from, as Google performs the OCR on your entire photo library automatically. Additionally, it allows users to execute a range of tasks like searching the web for photos of menu items or adding contact information from a business card into a user’s address book.


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