Google Lens is Functional in Google Photos v3.5, Here’s How to Access it

Google Lens is Functional in Google Photos v3.5, Here’s How to Access it

Update: We have developed an application that lets anyone try out Google Lens on their Android smartphone. See this article for more details!

Google Lens was announced at this year’s Google I/O. The feature was shown off briefly, and it basically uses the power of Google’s machine learning technology in order to provide contextual analysis of pictures. While the product was initially stated to eventually integrate with the Google Assistant, it was also revealed that Google Lens integration would be available in Google Photos. Since Google I/O, we haven’t heard much about this product apart from a few early versions showing up. But today, Google Photos version 3.5.0.168271220 has begun to roll out to users, and it actually provides a working, accessible interface to Google Lens.

As you can see in the screenshots above, I am able to opt in to Google Lens and then send it an image for it to do its magic on. I tested a fairly standard image that should easily be able to be recognized by Google’s machine learning technology – the Eiffel Tower. As expected, it worked.


Google Photos v3.5 Brings Live Google Lens Support

We managed to figure out how to access Google Lens, at least part of its functionality, as we don’t know the full extent of what Google Lens in Google Photos is capable of yet. This may be surprising, and exciting, for some as it suggests the feature won’t be limited to the upcoming Google Pixel 2 and Google Pixel 2 XL.

Within the newest Google Photos app, we noticed a few new lines in the Android Manifest file:

To any Android developer out there, you’ll know how to parse this information. But to those of you not familiar with Android’s intent system, here’s an explanation. The latest Google Photos update adds a new intent filter that accepts image files sent to it. If you are able to set up the proper intent, then you can open up any image file on your device to be used in Google Lens.

Since this is an “exported” activity, that means that it can be called from a third party app and without requiring root access. And that’s exactly what I did with Tasker and the help of a nifty app called Content Provider Helper.

All you need to do is send an image file using the content://media/external/images/media/ID format in the intent’s data, and Google Photos will open up with Google Lens ready to scan your picture for anything it finds.

Alternatively, you can send an ADB command in this format in order to launch Google Lens:

adb shell am start -n "com.google.android.apps.photos/.lens.oem.LensActivity" -a "com.android.camera.action.LENS" -t "images/*" -d "file:///path/to/image/file"

where the file:/// leads to the image file you want to test.

Google Lens – What can it do?

Apparently, it can do a lot. We also did an APK teardown of the app and found that it can scan for books, movies, music albums, video games, landmarks, points of interest, paintings, buildings, etc.

If it detects such things as URLs it can open them in your browser; if it detects potential phone numbers, addresses, e-mail addresses, etc. it can suggest adding to your contacts; or it can even add events to your calendar.

We’ve tested a few pictures out, and it appears to be fully functional.

It’s possible to make a simple app that just sends an intent to Google Photos just to mess around with Google Lens. We haven’t gone that far in testing this yet, but the possibility is certainly there!


You can download Google Photos version 3.5.0.168271220 at APKMirror, or check the Play Store link below to see if it has rolled out for your device.

Google Photos
Google Photos
Developer: Google Inc.
Price: Free

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