Google Goggles is the latest, greatest experiment from the big G. It's an Android app that identifies virtually anything, given a photo of that thing. We saw it demonstrated over Christmas by snapping photos of faded art prints in a restaurant, book covers in a bookstore, even city landmarks; each were quickly identified, and our minds were blown. And today, Google has released an even "faster and smarter" version.
Today, Google Goggles gained two pretty cool features.
First, the Android version of the app boasts that it can scan barcodes almost instantly. The slight lag was something we noticed when we saw it in person, and while it wasn't a dealbreaker, it could make storing up product ideas for Christmas shopping a bit slower. Now, with no delay at all -- it doesn't even require a button press to capture the barcode -- we can snap away happily, quickly and covertly.
Second, Goggles now recognizes print ads from newspapers and magazines. This should be a huge boon to retailers who have been struggling to make connections between print and web advertising, and gives consumers a way to shop smarter (Goggles also does price comparison). Plus, it's not impossible that advertisers will start offering incentives for scanning their ad, like coupons or other discounts.
And finally, the app (both Android and iPhone versions) can solve a Sudoku puzzle for you, in less time than it takes to say, "Hand me that pencil eraser." Good for when you get stuck on a puzzle, if not for stretching the brain.
I'm just waiting until Google acquires the visual translation app Word Lens and folds that capability into Goggles. Then it's practically only a step away from sentience. (Hey, it isn't named the Android for nothing!)
Download the newest version of Google Goggles for free in the Android market.
So, what do you think about the updates - rate or hate?