What Is It?
In short, Google Goggles is an image-based search engine. Instead of typing in keywords, you simply snap or upload a photograph.
Let’s say you take a picture of a perfectly symmetrical white marble building in India. You think it might be a wonder of the world, but its name is stuck on the tip of your tongue. Goggles will inform you that the Taj Mahal was commissioned by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan in 1632 to house the tomb of his wife.
How Does It Work?
There’s no need to remember foreign names for your search query, as this visual search tool uses advanced algorithms so that you can find answers without any text. Google emphasizes that the app is still undergoing development, but we think it’s pretty impressive thus far.
At this point, Goggles performs best on iconic sights, such as landmarks, book covers, barcodes, wine bottle labels, corporate logos, and artwork. For optimal results, take landscape (horizontal) photos in good light. Make sure to hold your camera steady and use a decent resolution setting. If there’s a lot going on in your image, Google has a feature so that you can crop the photo and leave the most recognizable element for algorithm analysis.
Google Goggles is fluent in over 40 languages. This means you can take a photo of any text written in Russian, German, Spanish y más and Goggles will translate those words for you. So you can ditch the pocket dictionary and try locals-only restaurants.
Our Favorite Part
My senses go into overdrive when I’m in a foreign country, as there’s an overwhelming amount information to absorb. Tour guides are passionate and eager to give you the 411 on their home. My note-taking can never keep up with the lightning-speed of my guide’s storytelling and historical anecdotes, meaning most of the information slips away. This is particularly true when visiting a country where English isn’t the native tongue, especially where they use a different alphabet. Then there’s not a chance I’m spelling anything correctly! Luckily Google Goggles has my back. The app lets me use my photos of famous landmarks to learn more about them (how to spell their names, for starters), avoiding a text-based inquiry fail.
I’ve also found the text translation ability to be life-saving, as it lets me distinguish between shampoo and hair removal crème in the store. And when I’m sampling the local fare, it decodes foreign menus so I can remain vegetarian.
Get It Now
iPhone (the Goggles capabilities have been integrated into the all-encompassing Google search app)
Annie’s based in Los Angeles but hails from Portland, Oregon. Sort of. She moved to six states by the time she reached middle school, and continues to move around the US and abroad – call her a nomad, but she prefers “Location ADHD.” After studying abroad in New Zealand, Annie circled the globe, graduated from USC, and circled the world once again. For one year she lived out of a backpack everywhere from The Philippines to Nepal to Slovenia to Norway. She’s a curry connoisseur and passionate explorer, taking the road less traveled, the “trail” covered in vines and swarmed in exotic bugs. Foreign lands feel like home, and Annie loves encouraging more and more people to utilize their passports and experience a new culture.