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Google Goggles Available On iPhone

Searching has become as simple as taking a picture.

Thomas Claburn

October 6, 2010

2 Min Read

Eliminating one of the significant advantages of having an Android phone, Google on Tuesday made its visual search software Google Goggles available for Apple's iPhone.

Google Goggles is now part of the latest version of the Google Mobile App, which can be found Apple's iTunes App Store. It can be accessed via the Google Mobile App search tab by selecting the camera icon, which is next to the microphone icon for voice search.

Introduced in December 2009, Google Goggles allows the user to conduct a search by taking a picture. It's far from perfect, but it's nonetheless remarkably useful.

"Computer vision is a hard problem and Google Goggles is still a Labs product," said Google software engineer Milan Broum in a blog post. "It works well for things such as landmarks, logos and the covers of books, DVDs and games. However, it doesn’t yet work for some things you might want to try like animals, plants or food."

Google Googles also works well with images of contact info, famous paintings, businesses, products, barcodes, and text, according to the company.

It can translate images that contain text in another language. Presently, it can read words in English, French, Italian, German, and Spanish, and can translate them into any of those languages plus Afrikaans, Albanian, Catalan, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Galician, Icelandic, Irish, Norwegian, Portuguese, and Swedish.

However, Google Goggles is only currently-enabled for English-speaking users. It requires a phone running Android 1.6+ or an iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4 running iOS 4+.

When it works, the process of taking a picture and receiving search results it generally quicker than typing a query on a mobile phone's virtual keyboard.

Google Goggles tends to be easier than one-handed typing and is often more convenient than submitting a keyword search when on the move.

Voice search has similar advantages, which explains why Google has been made significant investments in image and voice recognition technology for mobile devices. The company introduced voice search for mobile two years ago and already 25% of search queries on Android devices are spoken.

About the Author(s)

Thomas Claburn

Editor at Large, Enterprise Mobility

Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful master's degree in film production. He wrote the original treatment for 3DO's Killing Time, a short story that appeared in On Spec, and the screenplay for an independent film called The Hanged Man, which he would later direct. He's the author of a science fiction novel, Reflecting Fires, and a sadly neglected blog, Lot 49. His iPhone game, Blocfall, is available through the iTunes App Store. His wife is a talented jazz singer; he does not sing, which is for the best.

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