Home Android 14 ways Google Lens can save you time on Android

14 ways Google Lens can save you time on Android

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Psst: Come close. Your Android phone has a little-known superpower — a futuristic system for bridging the physical world around you and the digital universe on your device. It’s one of Google’s best-kept secrets. And it can save you tons of time and effort.

It’s a little somethin’ called Google Lens, and it’s been lurking around on Android and quietly getting more and more capable for years. Google doesn’t make a big deal about it, weirdly enough, and you really have to go out of your way to even realize it exists. But once you uncover it, well, you’ll feel like you have a magic wand in your pocket.

At its core, Google Lens is best described as a search engine for the real world. It uses artificial intelligence to identify text and objects both within images and in a live view from your phone’s camera, and it then lets you learn about and interact with those elements in all sorts of interesting ways. But while Lens’s ability to, say, identify a flower, look up a book, or give you info about a landmark is certainly impressive, it’s the system’s more mundane-seeming productivity powers that are far more likely to find a place in your day-to-day life.

So grab your nearest Android gadget, go install the Google Lens app, if you haven’t already, and get ready to teach your phone some spectacularly useful new tricks.

Google Lens trick No. 1: Copy text from the real world

Google Lens’s most potent power and the one I rely on most frequently is its ability to grab text from a physical document — a paper, a book, a whiteboard, a suspiciously wordy tattoo on your rumpus, or anything else with writing on it — and then copy that text onto your phone’s clipboard. From there, you can easily paste the text into a Google Doc, a note, an email, a Slack chat, or anywhere else imaginable.

To do that, just open up the Google Lens app and tap the “Search with your camera” area at the top of the screen. Point your camera at any text around you, then tap your finger onto any area of the viewfinder — and you’ll be able to select the exact portion of text you want as if it were regular ol’ digital text on a website.

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