One of the most-used apps by far on my Android phone as a person with low vision is the Google Lens app. In the last 24 hours, I’ve used it seven times for various tasks around my house and tasks related to accessing my schoolwork, and I love showing it to people with newly diagnosed low vision because it can be a game changer for how they access items in their environment. Here is my Google Lens review for low vision users from my own personal experiences using the app.
Google Lens is a free Android app that uses image recognition technology to provide information about objects that it identifies. Google Lens is also part of the Google Assistant camera, though I chose to download the app as it was a bit easier to use.
Google Lens can do the following things:
Google Lens can be downloaded for free on the Google Play Store at the link below. It is currently not available for iOS, though I highly recommend the Seeing AI app which has similar functionality.
If the app is not available for download for your phone, I recommend checking out your existing camera app as Google Lens may already be a built in function- this was the case with a family member’s new Motorola phone.
The Google Lens app works like any other camera app, as users have to press on an icon to take a picture. Users can choose what mode to use by swiping on the bottom of the screen to access the translation, text, automatic, shopping, and dining modes that can provide specific information. Once the user presses on the icon at the center of their screen, there will be a pop-up on the bottom of the screen that provides information about the item or takes the user to a Google search page with additional information. Pictures taken in Google Lens are not stored in the gallery or camera unless the user takes a screenshot.
When one of my family members with acquired vision loss got a new Android phone, I spent about twenty minutes teaching them to use Google Lens with their new phone by doing the following things:
Google Lens supports the large text on my phone well, and if information is cut off I am able to copy it to another app or pull up a page in Google Chrome with ease. The app also works well with Select-to-Speak and can read text results easily, and also works well with TalkBack, though I found that I often had to open the text results in Google Chrome to get all of the information.
One of my friends asked me if there was a difference between the Google Lens app and the Google Lookout app, and I had this question as well when I first tested the Lookout app at the ATIA conference. While they are powered by the same technology, Google Lens is more like a still image camera, as the user has to press a button in order to get information about an object, while Google Lookout is more like a video camera that is constantly giving user information about objects around them and reading information out loud. I have both apps downloaded, though I tend to use Google Lens more often.
Some examples of ways that I use Google Lens include:
I love the Google Lens app, and consider it one of the most important apps for someone with low vision to have on their Android phone, as I rarely go more than a few hours without using it. I cannot recommend it enough for completing simple tasks and making objects and information easier to recognize and access.
By Veronica Lewis/Veronica With Four Eyes,