Alongside Live View directions in Maps and 3D Animals, Lens is one of Google’s key investments in augmented reality. Google UK is now promoting the visual search tool with a “Behind the Lens with Google Pixel” promo campaign.

This effort wants to “help people rediscover their cities using Google Lens.” Over the coming weeks, the company will host a series of events in London, Bristol, and Liverpool with some unspecified “very special guests.”

Behind the Lens with Google Pixel encourages people to search what they see using the magic of Lens, and rediscover some forgotten pockets of their city using its updated features. Identifying the species of that bird you keep seeing in the communal gardens of London has never been easier, while discovering new, secret ingredients at a farmer’s market in Liverpool can also be done in a snap. Or, perhaps you’ve always wanted to know more about that forgotten landmark from a viewpoint in Bristol.

The feature is being demoed on Pixel phones, and Google specifically touts the integration in the native Camera. Previous Google Lens campaigns involved newspaper ads for season 3 of Stranger Things that “came to life” with AR.

As part of this effort, Google is “officially launching the new Places filter in Lens.” Some users have had it for the past few months, but the company says it’s “now available globally.” It joins “filters” for Translate, Text (OCR), Search (objects), Homework (math problem solver), Shopping (clothing, furniture, etc.), and Dining (find popular dishes by pointing at menus).

…the Places filter makes it easy to identify buildings and landmarks using your phone camera, combining 3D models from Google Earth and Lens’ powerful image recognition technology to create an in-depth, real-time AR experience, similar to Live View on Google Maps.

The company also shared that Lens is used 3 billion times per month around the world. This Google Lens promo (and new stat) comes as Apple on Monday announced Live Text and Look Up. The former is identical to the OCR capabilities in Lens that make it easy to copy text in pictures, while the latter can also identify pets/breeds, flower types, art, books, nature, and landmarks. 

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Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: abner@9to5g.com