Good news, Android fans: Google Lens is now available as a standalone app from the Play Store, meaning it can now be installed even if the host device doesn't offer built-in Lens functionality.
Google Lens, which debuted at the 2017 Google I/O developer conference, is an incredibly useful tool. Not only can it extract text and hyperlinks from images, but it can also identify landmarks around the world. Pixel phones received Lens features ahead of everyone in the latter part of 2017, and Google eventually rolled it out to several other Android phones this past March.
Standalone Google Lens App Now Available
Google Lens is integrated into the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. On other Android phones, it's accessible via Google Assistant and Google Photos. But for those who'd much rather have the standalone app installed, then it's now possible to do so.
It should be noted that the app is only compatible with Android devices running Marshmallow or higher, as Android Police reports. Sorry, Lollipop users: you're out of luck.
The app launches into viewfinder mode by default. When users point their camera at certain objects, the app tries to identify what it's seeing and pulls up more information about it. Basically, the standalone app is identical to the one seen on Assistant and Photos.
Google has recently announced a number of updates to Google Lens that make it more useful. At its I/O developer conference this year, the company revealed the feature is now built into camera apps from 10 OEMs, including LG, Xiaomi, Motorola, Nokia, OnePlus, and many others.
It Won't Work On All Android Phones, Though
Though the standalone app is now available on most Android phones, it should be noted that your mileage may vary. Some users report that Google Lens doesn't appear to be compatible with some handsets. For example, it'll work well on the Galaxy Note 8 but not on the Galaxy S8 Plus, for some reason. Other users have also noted that the app doesn't work on the Moto Z Play, Nokia 7 Plus, and the Xiaomi Mi A1, despite these phones running a version of Android higher than Marshmallow.
Google Lens App Download
Google Lens is now available to download from the Play Store. iOS folks don't have to miss out, though, as the feature is also accessible on iPhones — but not through a standalone app; you have to use Google Photos to take advantage of the features.
Thoughts about Google Lens? As always, if you have anything to share, feel free to sound them off in the comments section below!