What’s in a name? Google Goggles lets you search the web with pictures
By Jeff Salton
December 8, 2009
As Juliet was heard to remark: "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." Well, that’s fine for Juliet but if you can’t think of a name for something, how do you search for it on the Web? Use Google Goggles. This new app for Android phones lets you use pictures taken with your mobile phone to conduct your searches. It's especially handy for things that aren't easy to describe in words – like ones right in front of you! There's no need to type or speak your query - all you have to do is open the app, snap a picture, and wait for your search results.
You can use Google Goggles to find the names and locations of landmarks, or famous artworks, books, DVDs, logos, even get the contact details of a certain restaurant or find out where the nearest one is to where you’ll be that night.
You can even photograph business cards and get the business details and links for that person, including email and phone number to enable you to call them directly. Also, add the contact info to your Contacts list and get GPS directions to their business location.
Google says Goggle works best when taking pictures and your phone is in "left landscape" mode, and you press the on-screen shutter button with your right thumb.
Barcode matches will provide a link to Google Product Search so you can quickly compare prices.
Google Goggles can provide you with information about the points of interest near you, without even conducting a search.
Another great function is "Nearby Places" (see video below). To use the Nearby Places overlay, open Goggles and hold your phone in landscape view (holding the phone in portrait view will turn off the overlay). With the camera facing forward - not up or down pan around your location in camera mode.
Before you know it (once your GPS signal is locked) you'll see labels tagged to the nearby businesses, and a pin icon with a number in it at the bottom right corner of the screen. The number in the icon indicates the number of businesses nearby. You can either click the pin to see all places near you listed by proximity, or select a specific label to see more information about that particular business.
Tips for better searches
Google says take photos in areas with good lighting, zoom in as much as possible, and have a steady hand (no real surprises there).
The search results page will show you Web results, text matches, similar images, other matches, and suggested results.
You can use Google Goggles to share the photos you've taken through Bluetooth, Facebook, Gmail, Android Messaging, or Picasa – just select your preferred method on the Share Photo page via the menu (provided you have the Android Facebook app installed).
You can store up to 1000 images in Search History before being prompted to remove some of them or your new ones will replace your oldest snaps. Using Search History, you'll be able to view and manage saved copies of the pictures you take.
Google says it will retain your images to help improve its service.
Google Goggles is currently available for Android devices running Android 1.6 and above.