Google Photos appears to be testing a new chip toolbar UI to help speed up the process of using Lens and other image editing tools specifically with text-based images.

Primarily useful for quickly accessing commonly used controls, the chip toolbar or chip group appears most often when viewing images like screenshots or those with prominently visible text. However, like most things in Google apps, this new UI is by no means widespread and appears to be a UI test, at least at this stage.

[Update 04/21]: After initially appearing in a limited capacity, the new chip toolbar now appears to have spread far more widely and should be available to most Android users when using Google Photos. The options have not expanded but you may see a “Search inside screenshot” option when viewing screenshots with lots of text.

Rather than needing to dive into the further “Edit” section or swiping up to directly access, if you open an image with a large volume of text, you’ll get a floating toolbar with Google Lens, “Copy text,” “Listen,” “Crop,” and “Markup” chips that mean you don’t need to enter another deeper menu within the Photos app on Android. We’re seeing this most prominently with screenshots, but even images with some text will offer up a “Copy text” chip too:

Tapping any of the options simply opens up right into the dedicated section. However, the Lens shortcut is slightly redundant given that there is already a persistent shortcut within the pinned toolbar for every image you open in Google Photos. We’re not sure if this will evolve over time but it seems a bit odd to have what amounts to two of the same shortcut within this added floating toolbar.

Given that Google often tweaks and tunes app and service interfaces, this chip toolbar is likely part of a wider A/B test for the Photos UI. It certainly makes sense to show contextual tools for images such as screenshots that are littered with text. There’s also the added benefit that those not versed in the optional editing tools will potentially learn something new. If you have seen the same chips toolbar when using Google Photos, let us know down in the comments section below.

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Damien Wilde

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