Google Goggles

Mobile searching has just become way, way cooler

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Google Goggles
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Pros

  • Free, incredibly cool

Cons

  • Doesn't work well with some categories of object at the moment

Bottom Line

Right now, Google Goggles doesn't work well with food, cars, plants, or animals. But that's going to change. Developers say the app will soon be able to recognise plants by their leaves, even suggest chess moves by "seeing" an image of your current board. "We are only scratching the surface of the visual search technology," Google's engineers promise.

Would you buy this?

Google Goggles: art

We had a book of Magritte paintings in the office. We flipped open to a random page and took a photo. Google Goggles got it.

_5Google_Goggles_magritte

The Google gang says the app can detect and detail wine, so we figured it was worth a shot. This one took a couple of tries - the first bottle we attempted didn't work - but Google Goggles was able to pull up details about the second label we shot.

_6Google_Goggles_wine

Text does the trick, too, whether you're looking at a business card or just words on a page. We tried capturing your author's name off of a recent invoice. Goggles brought up a list of web search results for me, along with contact info and the option to add myself into my phone's directory.

Google Goggles: landmarks and Places

Major landmarks are well within Goggles' sights. We didn't have one nearby, so we photographed a photo of the Eiffel Tower, and sat back to see what'd happen. Google Goggles figured it out and linked us to the landmark information.

_7Google_Goggles_Paris

Google Goggles uses data from the phone's GPS and compass to deliver live augmented-reality results as well. You just point your phone at any location - a business, for example - and the app places a button with the business name at the bottom of your screen. Tap the button, and Goggles loads info about the business from a web search. No snapshot is needed.

Even just pointing the phone in a general direction will cause AR results to display. Looking out of our office window through the phone, we saw a button that said "20" at the bottom of the screen. When we tapped it, a list of nearby businesses popped up, each with a clickable link containing contact details, reviews, and other information.

Right now, Google Goggles doesn't work well with food, cars, plants, or animals. But that's going to change. Developers say the app will soon be able to recognise plants by their leaves, even suggest chess moves by "seeing" an image of your current board. "We are only scratching the surface of the visual search technology," Google's engineers promise. If you're worried about privacy, Google Goggles gives you two options. You can discard all of your images as you go, or you can save them in a searchable history. Selecting the searchable history option makes the images available to Google, separate from any personal data, for the purpose of improving the service. Aside from that, Google indicates, the Goggles app retains your IP address and Google account details for five weeks in order to help "keep the service stable and secure". The Google Goggles app is now available as a free download in the Android Market. You can see more of its features in action via Google's official Goggles video. There's also a help section set up on Google's mobile support site.

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