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Google Goggles review

FREE

Manufacturer: Google

Google Goggles brings visual search to your mobile phone. Point and click, and it delivers information about what you're seeing.

Google Goggles brings visual search to your mobile phone. Point and click, and it delivers information about what you're seeing.

Mobile searching has just become way, way cooler. Google unveiled its new Google Goggles visual search tool for Android this week, bringing a high-tech twist to accessing information on the go.

See also: Google Android review

Google Goggles: An Introduction

Google Goggles - not to be confused with Google Mail Goggles, the company's inebriated emailing preventer - lets you search from your mobile phone simply by snapping a photo.

Want more info on a product? Take its picture.

Need info about a business? Photograph the storefront.

Put simply, this thing packs some serious power, and its capabilities stretch far.

Google Goggles currently supports photo-based searching for (take a deep breath): books, DVDs, landmarks, logos, contact info, artwork, businesses, products, barcodes, and plain text.

Here's how it works. When you capture an image, Google breaks it down into object-based signatures. It then compares those signatures against every item it can find in its image database. Within seconds, it returns the results to you, ordered by rank. Some results are returned before you even snap a photo, too, thanks to seamless integration of GPS and compass functionality.

But enough on the nuts and bolts. Let's put search-by-sight to the test.

NEW! Explore PC Advisor's virtual BlackBerry smartphone

Hands-On With Google Goggles

We started out with something easy: a book. After opening the app, we followed the instructions and took a photo. Google Goggles started analyzing the image. Sure enough, seconds later, we had the results.

Just from seeing the book's cover, Google Goggles gave us the full name and links to compare prices or even preview the text. Below that, it returned regular search results for the title. Not too shabby.

Google Goggles book

NEXT: Goggling a DVD >>

VERDICT >

Google Goggles Expert Verdict »

Available on phones that run Google Android 1.6+ (i.e. Donut or Eclair)

Right now, Google Goggles doesn't work well with food, cars, plants, or animals. But that's going to change. Developers say the app will soon be able to recognise plants by their leaves, even suggest chess moves by "seeing" an image of your current board. "We are only scratching the surface of the visual search technology," Google's engineers promise. If you're worried about privacy, Google Goggles gives you two options. You can discard all of your images as you go, or you can save them in a searchable history. Selecting the searchable history option makes the images available to Google, separate from any personal data, for the purpose of improving the service. Aside from that, Google indicates, the Goggles app retains your IP address and Google account details for five weeks in order to help "keep the service stable and secure". The Google Goggles app is now available as a free download in the Android Market. You can see more of its features in action via Google's official Goggles video. There's also a help section set up on Google's mobile support site.

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