Google Photos is finally getting optical character recognition (OCR)

That Google Photos is feature-packed has never been in doubt. The image viewer cum photo storage service does more than allow users save as many images as they can capture and view them.

It leverages its maker’s strides in machine learning and search prowess to deepen the indexing of the images and videos it stores to make it easy for users to search for people and objects in photos and even automatically tag them (in the case of people).

Even better, it lets users search for images using whatever it is they remember from the context of the particular photo(s) they are searching for. For instance, one can just type a random month and year and it will surface photos from that time. Or a thing like, say, aeroplanes, and Google Photos will surface all photos with planes in them. Heck, where photos have location tags, Photos will surface them when the location is queried.

All that, though, has been watered down by the fact that Google Photos has had no way for users to search for text contained in the photos they store using the service.

Personally, my workaround to this has been using a competitor’s product. Microsoft’s OneDrive, which I like very much, mostly because I can store full high-resolution photos and videos (unlike on Google Photos, unless I want to exhaust the meagre storage I have), lets me find text contained in the photos I have uploaded to the service.

This is what we technically refer to as optical character recognition and it is now coming to Google Photos thanks to the Google Lens integration.

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The feature is currently rolling out and you may or may not be able to experience it on your Google Photos app.

When working as it should, once one searches for a particular word or set of words, photos containing the same will surface. Clicking on any of the results with the search terms will result in a Google Lens icon showing up and clicking it will let one copy the text for copying elsewhere. How Google is positioning these OCR capabilities of the Photos app is that by doing so, one will be able to do things like copy Wi-Fi passwords.

Google Photos
Google Photos
Developer: Google LLC
Price: Free

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