Google searches on your high-end Android phones are going to get substantively more powerful thanks to the new Circle to Search feature, the company said in a press release on Wednesday. The feature allows you to pull up Google while using any app, circle or highlight any text or object and, with the power of AI, get results instantly. This enhanced version of visual search will launch on the Pixel 8, Pixel 8 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S24 line of phones on Jan. 31.
Circle to Search, as the name suggests, lets you circle any object to search for it. For example, if you see a TikTok featuring funky-looking corn dogs, you can swipe up to bring up the Google app and circle the food item with your finger. Using AI, Google will give you the brief on Korean corn dogs. The AI can also explain the cultural relevance of Korean food in the current gastronomical zeitgeist.
The power here isn’t only being able to search any object or text you see on your screen but doing so without having to fumble between multiple apps.
This announcement coincides with Samsung’s announcement today of the same feature coming to the new Galaxy S24 line of phones. At the moment, other phones with this more powerful in-app version of Google Search haven’t been announced.
Google’s continued love affair with AI comes after ChatGPT upended its Search mojo in late 2022. When ChatGPT launched, the AI chatbot could seemingly answer any question with unique answers. Compared with a standard Google search, which brings up lists of websites requiring you to filter and find relevant information, ChatGPT did that for you. Both Google and Microsoft were quick to introduce AI chatbots of their own to stay competitive.
Since then, Microsoft’s AI investments has catapulted the company into becoming the most valuable in the world, overtaking Apple earlier this month. Google is also integrating AI into more of its products, from Search itself with Search Generative Experience to the camera app on its Pixel devices. Considering that generative AI is estimated to bring in up to $4.4 trillion annually, according to McKinsey, companies are rushing to be at the cutting edge to maintain market dominance.
Along with Circle to Search, Google said that multisearch in Lens is also getting an AI-powered upgrade. In the past, if you saw a dress you liked, Google Lens would be able to identify that dress and you could then ask Google to search for variations in green. Now those visual matches will give AI-powered insights, allowing you to ask more nuanced questions. The example Google posits is seeing a board game at a yard sale without the box. Google Lens can soon identify the game and you can ask what that game is called and how it can be played.
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