Lens is a Google app that recognizes objects in a photo taken with the smartphone and provides useful information about them. It is integrated into the Google Photos app or the Assistant available on some smartphones, and you can use for example to connect to a Wi-Fi by taking an image of the network name and password, or to recognize a flower, discover the painter of a famous painting, read the reviews of a book framing the cover, or save the details of an event in the calendar by photographing a poster.
Among the many features of Lens there is one particularly useful for simplifying the management of their contacts. The app is able to recognize business cards framed in a photo and isolate all useful information: name, address, phone number, email.
Compatible Android smartphones
On smartphones where Google Lens is already integrated into Assistant (see “Compatible devices” at the bottom), the process for scanning a business card is very fast. Just activate the virtual assistant or recall it with the formula “Ok Google!” And then tap the Lens icon at the bottom right (a square with rounded edges and two circles). Frame the business card you want to digitize and tap on the screen in the Augmented Reality interface.
In a matter of seconds, Google Lens will isolate useful information. The assistant will inform you that it has detected a business card and will offer you the possibility to quickly save the contact in your address book. The only manual operation will probably be the insertion of the name and surname in the contact card, the only type of information that – from our experience – the assistant can only recognize in some cases.
Google Photos for Android and iPhone
The same operation can also be done on devices that integrate Google Lens in the Google Photos application, including iPhones.
In this case you can not directly save the contact from the assistant screen, but you need to take a picture of the business card and then open it in the Google image management app. From here, by selecting the shot, you can tap the Google Lens icon and start tracking information. The process takes a few seconds longer than the assistant, but it is equally effective. Once acknowledged, the app offers the possibility to save data in a new contact.
Where are the contacts saved?
On Android devices, you can choose whether to save the contact you just detected in your phone’s address book or synchronize it right away on your Google account. On the iPhone, the contact is saved directly to Contacts. If you use an Apple device and Lens is able to recognize the first and last name from the business card, be careful when saving: they could end up merged together under the name field, thus escaping the alphabetical order of surnames in the phone book.
There are two advantages to using Lens compared to other similar solutions for the digitalization of business cards: the app is free, as opposed to many similar solutions available on the App Store or Play Store; the privacy of your contacts (as long as you trust Google). During image recognition, information passes exclusively on Big G’s servers and does not end up processed by third-party services.
Google Lens is integrated into the Assistant of these Android smartphones: Google Pixel and Pixel 2; OnePlus 3, 3T, 5, 5T and 6; Samsung Galaxy 8/8Plus, 9/9plus, Note 8; LG V30. Other high-end devices from manufacturers such as Huawei, Motorola, Nokia and Sony will activate Lens in Assistant with a future update. On most other latest generation Android devices and on Google Lens iPhones you can activate from Google Photos. The app can be downloaded for free from the Google Play Store or from the Apple App Store.