Google Lens, the tech giant’s image recognition tool that utilizes machine learning, artificial intelligence, and computer vision is now rolling out to Chrome for desktop. Previously, it existed only on mobile and users had to point their phones at something to get information either in real-time or by snapping a photo and scanning it. You can visit Lens on the web directly, but you won’t be able to use it as you’re just brought to a splash page that advertises its mobile apps.
Instead, in order to use it, you simply right-click an image on the web and choose the new ‘Search image with Google Lens’ option if you have it. Doing so will redirect you to Google Lens on the web and bypass the splash page, taking you straight into a new interface where your selected image appears on the left. Relevant results will then populate the right side of the page. You can then drag the corners of the lens itself on the image to crop your selection and refine your search, just like the mobile version. It’s not immediately obvious how one would access Lens on a laptop this way, but I also don’t think it needs to be. It’s built into the contextual menu, and I think that’s appropriate for such a tool.
If you want the most out of Lens on the web, you can keep this page up and select the ‘Upload’ button at the top right to manually choose an image from your computer. As you can see from the images below where I’m demonstrating the process, I’ve attempted to turn the web app into an icon on my Chromebook for quick access. Unfortunately, even though it does have a nice icon sitting on my shelf, it opens the promotional page, and not the functional tool.
I can bypass this by enabling the new PWA intent picker dev flags and then by right-clicking an image to open Lens, as it redirects me to my standalone web app, but it’s not ideal. Despite this, it’s really cool to have access to Lens directly through the web browser. You have already been able to select Lens as an option on Google Images for a long time now, and it would pull up related pictures, but the full experience has been confined to smaller screens for long enough and I’m glad to see it expand outward.