Google is reportedly testing a new search button that will make it easier to search for a wide range of content based on pictures and photos.
The new feature, according to Android Police, replaces the current ‘Lens’ icon in the Google Photos app with a new button labeled simply ‘Search’. While many have become accustomed to the advanced image-based search functions of Google Lens, its name is hardly descriptive of what it does. A button clearly marked ‘Search’, on the other hand, would be the obvious place to tap when you want to find something.
As detailed in the report, some people are already seeing the new search button at the bottom of their screens and discovering a few changes in how search works within the Android app. Tapping Search will, for example, automatically detect faces in the current photo and highlight them so you can find other photos of the same person with a single tap.
Google Photos has always been able to search for faces in this way, but the method of doing so is essentially hidden from those who don’t know about the swipe-up gesture or how to use the ‘three-dots’ option menu at the top right.
Google Lens functions are still available with the new layout but have now become part of search. This means tapping the Search button first and then triggering the Lens feature afterward by tapping on objects within the current image. While this may inconvenience seasoned Lens users slightly, I’d argue that basic search is far more deserving of its own button, and those clever enough to use Lens will adapt easily enough.
Those not with Lens are also more likely to find themselves using it, having been led most of the way there by initiating a simple search.
I’m not usually a fan of changing app interfaces around for the sake of it, but I applaud this one as it makes Google’s powerful search capabilities more obvious and accessible to the novice user, who is unlikely to have the knowledge to try gestures or the confidence to tap on unmarked buttons.
It also provides a natural home for any new search tricks Google may come up with in the future. In fact, I’m not sure the ‘Lens’ branding should continue as a separate entity at all. Hopefully, the new search feature will roll out to a wider audience soon.
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