Google Camera on the Pixel 4 can offer to Scan Documents, Translate, and Copy Text
When Google announced the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL last month, there were a lot of new features that the company chose not to mention at the Made by Google event. New features like Screen Attention, Pixel Themes, car crash detection, and more were never announced but can be found on the latest Pixel smartphones. However, there’s one feature in particular that we haven’t seen get much attention: improved Google Lens suggestions in the Google Camera app. We actually talked about this in our “Google Pixel 4 – What the ‘Made by Google’ keynote didn’t say!” round-up, but I wanted to highlight this feature since, as I said, it hasn’t been mentioned online very much.
For context, Google Lens is a tool that uses computer vision to analyze what you’re looking at. It was announced at Google I/O 2017 with features like the ability to identify what kind of flower you’re looking at, pull up information on a restaurant you’re seeing, or recognize Wi-Fi network entry credentials. Since its debut, Google Lens has received updates to suggest outfits, recognize works from local artists, scan restaurant menus, overlay translated text, and do other cool things.
To access Google Lens on most smartphones, you can either pull up the Google Assistant and tap the Lens shortcut, open any photo in Google Photos and tap the Lens shortcut, or launch the dedicated Google Lens app (which is just a shortcut). On the Pixel smartphones, the Google Camera app has a dedicated shortcut to launch Google Lens. Starting with the Pixel 3, though, Google Lens runs in real-time in the Google Camera viewfinder. This integration, called Google Lens suggestions, allows the Google Camera app to detect URLs, email addresses, and business cards.
With the new Pixel 4, Google Lens suggestions can also offer to scan documents, translate text, or copy text. When you hover your phone over something that looks like it might be a document, you’ll see a chip with the Google Lens icon and “scan document” text. Tapping on this opens Google Lens with the corners automatically set to crop the document. After you’ve cropped the document, you can share it as a PDF or image. As for the translation feature, we were told it only supports English, Spanish, German, Hindi, and Japanese at the moment.
Here are screenshots showing each of these features:
Google Lens offering to scan a document for me straight from the Google Camera app on the Pixel 4. The document in question is an invitation to the upcoming Snapdragon Tech Summit.
Google Camera offering to translate German text from WinFuture.de
Google Camera asking if I want to copy text seen in the viewfinder.
These improved Lens suggestions don’t seem to be available on older Pixel smartphones. When the feature debuted on the Pixel 3, Google said it used the Pixel Visual Core to offer real-time suggestions. It’s possible these new suggestions rely on the upgraded Pixel Neural Core on the Pixel 4. In any case, we’re sure the talented Google Camera modding community will come up with a way to force this feature to work on older Pixel smartphones, possibly by offloading the suggestions to the main SoC.