Earlier this month, we spotted Google’s keyboard for Android working on automatic dark/light themes. Those using the Gboard 9.6 beta are now encountering another feature that we previously enabled: Google Lens integration.

Back in June, some — if not most — Gboard users lost the app’s built-in search functionality. Google now looks to be replacing web lookups for visual ones.

In the overflow menu (at the end of the suggestions strip), some users are encountering a shortcut for “Lens,” complete with the visual search tool’s icon. Tapping launches the same Google Lens accessible from a homescreen icon, Assistant, Google Camera, or Photos. Like any other Gboard shortcut, you can drag it to the main bar for immediate access.

From Gboard, Lens automatically opens to the “Text” filter used for identifying things in the real world that you can search or copy. When highlighting something, users can already “Copy text,” “Copy to computer,” “Listen,” “Translate,” or “Search.”

Gboard looks to be responsible for a new “Send to keyboard” option that will automatically paste what you saw in Lens to the last text field Gboard was active on. Devices that do not have the Gboard-Lens integration are not seeing this capability.

This makes for a very seamless workflow that addresses the real-world problem of seeing something in the world and wanting to copy it.


Update: Shortly after publishing, Lens in Gboard appeared on several Android 10 and 11 devices we checked. As this is a beta, the Lens feature could be pulled in a future keyboard update.


Meanwhile, we previously revealed that Lens is set for a big redesign that’s somewhat inspired by the Google Camera UI. It will introduce offline visual translations and a new “Homework” filter.

More about Google Lens:

Dylan Roussel contributed to this article

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