Circle to Search for the iPhone could arrive via Google Chrome

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra with S Pen drawn, demonstrating Circle to Search
You just circle... and then search (Image credit: Samsung)

Android users have been busy making use of Circle to Search since it debuted on the Samsung Galaxy S24 and Google Pixel 8 in January – and it appears that iPhone owners may be able to make use of the AI-powered feature themselves in the near future.

As spotted by The Mac Observer, a new "Lens Circle to Search" flag has been quietly added to Google Chrome for iOS. Google Lens is the technology that underpins Google to Search, enabling users to run a search based on any text or images on screen.

It therefore looks as though the ability to circle (or squiggle over) anything on screen to run a Google search will soon be available in Chrome for iOS – though it's not clear when. It's not quite the same system-wide integration as on Android, but it's something.

You can already use Circle to Search on an iPhone, sort of: it's basically a custom shortcut to Google Lens. There's no circling involved, but it works in any app via a screenshot, and does well enough at searching the web with visual information.

Keep on circling

Circle to Search news at Google I/O 2024

Circle to Search is reaching more and more devices (Image credit: Google)

If you're completely new to Circle to Search, it makes searching for anything on screen – like a plant species, a car model, or a book quote – faster and easier than ever. You can then tweak and expand the search as needed through Google Lens.

We're unlikely to ever see full Circle to Search integration for iOS, because third-party apps aren't allowed the high-level access that would be required. It's more likely that Apple will roll out something similar itself.

That may happen at its WWDC 2024 event starting on June 10, where we're expecting an avalanche of AI-related software announcements – so very much along the lines of the Google I/O 2024 event that ran earlier this week.

Google says Circle to Search has already reached 100 million Android devices, and is heading to 100 million more before the end of the year. It also looks as though the feature will be heading to Chrome on the desktop pretty soon too.

You might also like

David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.