Author: Julián Mª Morejón Carmona
Date: June 2021
This innovative application allows us to use our device as a very useful complementary element to cope with problems on a day-to-day basis when performing various tasks or perceiving information from the world around us, all supported by the use of the device's camera or the Gallery.
In this review we will do an analysis of the app for Android devices, using Android version 9.0 in the analysis.
Next, we proceed with the detailed analysis of the application.
To access the application, simply press and hold the button in the middle of the three buttons available on the bottom bar of the device, normally identified with a circle.
The Google interface will open where we can see in the middle of the lower part of it that three buttons will appear, the one on the left will be the one that helps us to open Google Lens when we select it.
Once we are in Google Lens, we will see at the bottom that it has several options, all useful and very interesting, consisting of the following:
1. Translate: It allows us to translate the text that we capture with the camera, belonging to any physical or digital medium, into the language we want.
2. Text: It recognizes the text that we capture with the camera and shows it to us on the screen or allows us to reproduce it by means of voice synthesis.
3. Search: It shows us information about the content captured by the camera, which can be any object or element available in the world.
4. Homework: It helps us to carry out the duties or exercises related to our studies or work through the information we capture with the device's camera.
5. Shopping: It offers us sites where we can purchase the products that we capture with the device's camera.
6. Sites: It shows us information about sites or buildings that we capture with the camera of our device.
7. Food: It shows us information about the food or menu that we capture with the camera with our device.
As if that were not enough, in each of the available options it allows us to add photos stored in our gallery, so the functionality of the application increases considerably by adding this feature, which is undoubtedly a success.
As we can see, we are facing a very interesting and complete application, with a range of functionalities that completes the needs that anyone can have in their day to day, especially people with visual difficulties, although it can help many other groups thanks to the wide range of functional options covered.
It is also worth mentioning that the performance in each of the functionalities is very good, being the user's satisfaction while using the app of an outstanding level, removing the small bugs or difficulties that can sometimes be shown.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that the app's settings allow us to add a direct access to it on the main screen, by selecting the three points located in the upper right part of the app's interface, where when we select them it will open a detachable with that option.
In summary, we are facing one of the best help apps that we can find, with a wide variety of functions, which will allow us to provide us with exquisite help or information at the most necessary moments and which will provide great benefit to people with visual disabilities . With the only downside that sometimes the functionality may not work 100%, although these cases are rare, since the overall performance is good.
Although we have already talked about the functionalities and interaction with the app, we are going to specify below some practical examples of the aids or advantages that the application can provide us in our day to day life.
1. Copy real world text
One of the most powerful functions of Google Lens is its ability to capture text from a physical document (a paper, a book, a blackboard or anything else that contains words or text) and then copy that content to the clipboard of our phone . From there, we can easily paste the text into a Google document, a note, an email, a chat in a messaging app or anywhere else we need.
2. Send text from the real world to our computer
Being realistic: in many cases we do not work only from our phones. If we need to get real-world text on our computers, Google Lens can help us with this too.
Simply, once we obtain the desired text, we look for the option "Copy to computer" in the panel at the bottom of the screen. As long as we have logged into Chrome with the same Google account that we have on the phone, on a computer, regardless of the operating system, Windows, Mac, Linux or Chrome OS, this option will appear. And when we touch it, we will get a list of all available computers.
What we will do is choose the one we want to send the text to, and, as if by magic, this text will be on the clipboard of that computer, ready and waiting to be pasted wherever we want.
3. Hear real-world text using speech synthesis
Perhaps we have to read a long document, a pamphlet or a letter from a family member. Whatever it is, we can let Google Lens read it for us.
We simply point the phone camera at the paper, and select the text icon. We select the text that we want to hear from all the captured text and use the "Listen" option in the panel at the bottom of the screen.
Selecting that option and the Google Lens application will read the selected text aloud thanks to speech synthesis.
4. Interact with text in an image
Google Lens can obtain and process text from images from photos we have taken to screenshots we have.
This last option offers some pretty cool possibilities. For example, we just received an email with a tracking number for an order, but the tracking number is in a strange text format that cannot be copied. Or maybe we are looking at a website or a presentation in which the text, for some reason, cannot be selected.
We take a screenshot, normally by pressing the power buttons and lower the volume of your phone together, then we open Google Lens, we select the square-shaped photo icon in the upper right corner of the application, once there we select the capture screen that we have just made and finally, we select the desired text.
From there, we can copy the text and perform any of the Google Lens tricks.
5. Search for information on the text of any physical document or image
Once any type of text has been selected within the application, the results of the search for information about it will appear, simple but extremely useful.
By offering this, we have a very easy way to get information about any text in any document or image.
6. Create an event on the calendar
Whenever we have something to do with a date involved (a flyer, an offer, an appointment card, or even a physical wedding invitation), we can save ourselves the hassle of writing it down on a paper or digital calendar, instead, we will simply open the Google Lens application.
We will point the phone camera at the paper or document and then select the date. The app will offer us the option "Create event in the calendar" at the beginning of the options in the lower panel, and when selecting it, the information will be transmitted directly to the calendar application so that we can modify it as necessary and save it.
7. Save someone's contact details
If they give us a contact or business card and we don't want to write down the contact information, we can let Google Lens take care of it.
We open the app, point the phone's camera at the card and touch the person's name. The app will recognize the information and ask us to add the contact.
8. Email, call, text, or navigate to a website
We have information about an email, a phone number or a website, thanks to Google Lens and capture the information with the device's camera or access a photo with that information that we want to use from the gallery.
Once Google Lens captures it, it will offer us options to do the most appropriate with the type of information captured. So that with a single touch, we have the address ready to enter in a new email message, the phone number ready to call or send a text message in your dialer or sms application, or the website will open and it will be ready for viewing in your browser, being no need to type anything and thus not wasting time.
9. Translate real world text
If we go on a trip or come across a text / document in another language, it is convenient to bear in mind that the Google Lens application has a built-in translation function. To activate it, we open the application, point our phone to the text / document and touch the translate icon, the circle with an "A" in the far left of the bottom row.
Before we know it, Google Lens will replace the words on our screen with their equivalents in the language we want. It is almost magical how effective it can be.
10. Scan barcodes and QR codes
For years we have needed specific applications to scan barcode or QR codes. However, as long as we have the Google Lens application on our phone, we will not need anything else. We will simply open the app, point the camera at any barcode or QR code, and Google Lens will take care of showing us what that code contains or the information related to it.
11. Use Google Lens to search for images or photos
All the examples that we have put, can also work not only from the Google Lens application, but also from some other places on our phone:
Google image search: every time we are looking at an image in the Google image search engine on your phone's browser, we have to look at the lens-shaped icon in the upper right corner. Tapping that will activate Google Lens and give us any relevant information about what is displayed.
Google Photos: That third icon at the bottom when we open an image in Google Photos, it opens Google Lens. Tapping it will open the app and allow us to copy text, activate links and obtain additional information about any element that the app can recognize.
12. Access Google Lens without lifting a finger
Last but not least, a very interesting addition: if we want to open the Google Lens application quickly, we can skip the usual access and, instead, say to our device: "Hey Google: open Google Lens". And the friendly Google assistant will open the app.
Although its target audience is all kinds of people with great utility in people with visual difficulties, when testing it we can see that the developers have wanted to grant accessibility to this group within the possibilities of the app. We can appreciate this detail thanks to the good functioning of screen readers such as TalkBack with the application or the option of being able to reproduce the content through voice synthesis in some options.
Also mentioning that the functionalities can be accessed through the use of screen buttons, it allows people with physical disabilities a simple use and the possibility of taking advantage of the features of the app almost 100%.
In summary, the application has acceptable accessibility, although it can be improved by including specific options, but still has compatibility with screen readers and playback through voice synthesis, which cover some necessary accessibility aspects for some groups, although it would be desirable to expand accessibility to be before a perfect app.
After having tested the application, it can be concluded that it offers a very numerous series of possibilities to meet the objectives it proposes effectively and correctly, giving great help and ease to people with visual difficulties or other people who need help in identifying information of the wide world that surrounds us or in their daily chores.
In summary, it is correct to say that we find a well thought out and executed app that will help us improve our quality of life and solve many of the problems that may arise on a daily basis, especially for people with vision difficulties, too. It should be mentioned that adding specific accessibility options would be a great addition since improvements are needed for different groups of people that allow or facilitate their use.
- Affordability: Although the application has acceptable accessibility, it would be convenient to include specific accessibility options that extend the ease of use of the app to people from different groups.