This Google App Is So Useful, It Deserves a Permanent Spot on Your Home Screen

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If you’re anything like me, you probably rarely download a new mobile app. Even when I do install a new app on my phone, I hardly ever open it more than once or twice.  Apparently, I’m not the only one. In 2019, as many as 25 percent of apps were only used once after being downloaded. But about a week ago, I discovered Google Lens, and I’ve already used it several times. Here’s what makes it worth the space on your phone.

One of the few truly useful augmented reality apps available, Google Lens uses image recognition technology to identify objects, images, and text through your phone’s camera. All you have to do is download the app and point your phone at an object you want to know more about, be it a mystery plant in your garden or a pair of shoes you like so much you want to buy the exact same model. (I’ve personally used it to figure out if a spider in my bathroom was poisonous.) The app will not only tell you what the object is but, where applicable, will also suggest where you can buy it (online and if possible, in real life), as well as show you other similar options available. 

In the case of famous landmarks, the app shows you historical facts, ratings, and hours of operation, too. And if you take a picture of a foreign street sign or menu, it’ll translate it to your chosen language.

Released in 2017, Google Lens isn’t a new app. However, it got some incredible new updates recently, which is how I first heard of it. The updates include a handy “Listen” feature, in-line word search, and updated smart copy and paste. 

The “Listen” feature lets you point your camera at a word to hear how it’s pronounced (the app translates from 100 languages), whereas the in-line word search makes it easy to learn new words and phrases as you come across them in books and newspapers. My favorite feature, however, is the smart copy and paste. While you could already use Google Lens to copy and paste text from documents and even handwritten notes to your phone, you can now copy the text to other devices, including your laptop, as long as you have the latest version of Chrome.

Google Lens is currently available in the Google Play app store.