Google Lens rolls out to AR-enabled Android phones with Google Photos

Google Lens, once exclusive to Pixel and Pixel 2 smartphones, is now available for certain Android smartphone or tablet user, so long as you have Google Photos downloaded, the company announced yesterday. 

We’ve been impressed with this app’s potential since Google first revealed its capabilities at a conference last May. It’s a jack-of-all-trades camera app capable of everything from scanning a router code to auto-log you in, to identifying landmarks in your vacation photos, to connecting with Google Assistant in real time to pull up information on a business in front of you. 

And just last week at MWC 2018, Google’s VP of VR and AR Amit Singh showed off how Lens is incorporating their ARCore technology to unlock even more capabilities, such as add real-size furniture to your living room to see how they’d fit, or see how a car would look with a different coat of paint.

A promotional pic of what Lens could do, courtesy of Google

A promotional pic of what Lens could do, courtesy of Google

In their announcement today, Google revealed another new feature: with Lens, you’ll be able to scan a business card and instantly create a new contact on your phone. But they also announced that some Android phone users won't be able to use Lens just yet.

Will Lens work for your Android device?

Lens’ capabilities require ARCore functionality to work, along with Android Oreo 8.0 and up. That means that even if you have an Android device with Google Photos installed, you may not be able to use Lens. 

In their recent blog post covering ARCore, Google listed the thirteen devices that should have Lens enabled (for now): 

But don’t get too excited yet; even if you upgrade your OS and Google Photos, Lens may not immediately appear. The Google Photos Twitter rep has informed many impatient smartphone users that the update is being pushed out “in batches”, so your device may not get the new tech for a few days. 

Google has also announced that Lens is “Coming soon to iOS”, but there’s no timeframe on how long that could take. And we should assume that Lens might only work on advanced AR-enabled phones like the iPhone X. Google also plans to bundle Lens and ARCore into most future Android smartphones as well. 

Michael Hicks

Michael Hicks began his freelance writing career with TechRadar in 2016, covering emerging tech like VR and self-driving cars. Nowadays, he works as a staff editor for Android Central, but still writes occasional TR reviews, how-tos and explainers on phones, tablets, smart home devices, and other tech.