Google app beta indicates Goggles-like Visual Search may be on the horizon

Hidden in the latest version of Google app beta is a feature that lets you search within pictures and a new Saved Images shortcut.

Remember Google Goggles? While it hasn’t seen an update since 2014, the app (which is still able to be downloaded in the Play Store) is a way to search the world by using your camera. But a feature uncovered deep in a beta version of the Google app seems to indicate that Google hasn’t forgotten about it.

In the latest version of the Google app beta, 9to5Google has discovered an option for Visual Search that will live in the sidebar. Selecting it brings up an interface that lets you snap a photo and select the portion of it that you want to search. Then it will show a series of cards related to your results. In the example 9to5Google provided, a search of a Motorola box returned Motorola phones, Motorola Mobility, and Google itself.

On a related note, Google is also adding support for saved images inside the Google app. Previously available by going to the images tab of the in-app Chrome browser and selecting the View Saved button in the bottom corner, the new shortcut will let you see any images you’ve saved using the same Saved Items and Tags tabs.

Neither of these features are live yet in the current beta version of the app, and it’s unclear when (or if) they might show up.

The big picture: With Google adding Assistant to all Marshmallow and Nougat phones and doing away with the Google Now Launcher, the Google app might be gaining a bit more prominence on our phones. And while it may be a ways off, by promoting its picture search tech to its main search app we could be inching closer to the day when we simply hold up our phones and ask, “OK Google, what’s that,” and get an answer.

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Michael Simon

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