Google Photos Can Now OCR the Visible Words in Your Shots

In a recent update, Google Photos added the ability to recognize the words in your photos by harnessing the power of Google Lens.

Google Photos for any smartphone is a must-have in my opinion. The unlimited high-quality backup and fast loading of thousands of photos at your fingertips are unrivaled and the offering keeps getting better. A series of tweets led me to find that the team had added the ability to use optical character recognition to scan your photos and allow you to highlight the actual text.

I tested it myself and was very impressed with the results. It is simple to use and not in the way.

The official Google Photos Twitter account had a great example of how to use it.

https://twitter.com/googlephotos/status/1164655519191068672

I must admit I hate entering the long hard WiFi passwords, so this makes the app just a little more useful. It appears that a wealth of machine learning has helped make this implementation more impressive than traditional OCR that only catches clear words. I tested an example of a poster we made at an art show with handwriting and it nailed just about letter! See all the highlighted text it in found in the image below.

Do you use Google Photos? Is this a cool feature you could see yourself benefiting from? I know I will be using it.

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9 Comments

Clay Wegrzynowicz's picture

Google's AI is impressive enough already. If I type in "License Plate" it gives me photos of the backs of my car. If I type in "recorder" it shows a funny selfie of me playing the recorder. Pretty soon I will be able to search for an event I've photographed just by what it looks like. Crazy stuff.

Michael B. Stuart's picture

Agreed. Oddly enough though a search for "camera" still returns everything instead of photos including a camera. Too meta with the meta.

Austin Castillo's picture

Not true anymore, at least for me. 90% of photos searched under "camera" had a camera in them.

Michael B. Stuart's picture

Weird, I tried before commenting and tried again after seeing this. I simply get all my photos as a result if I try and search "camera"

Keith Meinhold's picture

Used a version of their translate photo application a few years ago while traveling to translate a sign near a forest in Germany to English. Google translate confirmed my poor German the the sign said there was a minefield / unexploded ordinance and hiking was forbidden. Thank you google translate.

Michael B. Stuart's picture

Bringing new meaning to the phrase "killer app"
Wow! Great story.

Brent Daniel's picture

Lol! Yea, we’ve used it for translating menus while traveling. Really cool technology!

Mask Alan's picture

In many ways our journey is like a maze. We choose paths, some of the paths lead to dead ends, some of the paths take us in what seem to be endless circles, we make turns that don’t take us where we want to go and for most we are seeking the exit or we are seeking the prize in the middle.
https://blog.loveawake.com/2019/06/05/scams-of-the-heartwhat-is-a-romanc...

Jenna Martinez's picture

Google's AI scares me sometimes, but still it's a very useful tool I take use of it nearly everyday