Google announced an innovative new search capability for Android phones called “Circle to Search” at Samsung’s Unpacked event on January 17th, 2024. The AI-powered feature allows users to circle any object with their finger to get detailed information and search results.
How Circle to Search Works
Circle to Search leverages Google’s advanced AI models to instantly recognize objects within the circled area and provide relevant information. Users can circle objects through the camera viewfinder or on saved photos.
Once an item is circled, the phone will display a card with details about the object, options to search for similar items online or locate places to purchase it nearby. The feature provides information by analyzing visual cues rather than relying solely on text-based searches.
Key Details about Circle to Search:
- Powered by Google's Gemini AI models
- Lets users circle objects in camera viewfinder or saved photos
- Identifies object and provides info card with search options
- Will be available first on new Galaxy S24 phones and Pixel 8 series
- Enables visual search rather than just text-based searching
Circle to Search represents a major advancement in mobile search technology by leveraging AI to understand images and objects. This allows for more intuitive, real-world searches from a phone camera.
Initial Availability on New Android Flagship Phones
At launch, Circle to Search will be available exclusively on the latest flagship phones from Samsung and Google.
The Galaxy S24, S24+, and S24 Ultra will come with Circle to Search capabilities right out of the box. Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro owners will also gain access to the feature.
Rolling out first to the newest high-end Android phones allows Google to showcase the capabilities of Circle to Search. Hands-on testing and feedback from early adopters on the S24 and Pixel 8 will help refine the feature before expanding to more Android devices later on.
Wider Launch Planned for More Android Phones
While Samsung’s S24 series and Google’s Pixel 8 will have exclusive access at first, Circle to Search is expected to come to more Android phones over time.
Given Google’s ambition to make its AI-powered search features ubiquitous, expanding Circle to Search to additional phones down the line ensures wider access.
As the underlying Gemini AI models advance, the feature could become available on cheaper mid-range and older Android phones too. Though availability may vary depending on factors like phone camera quality and processing power.
Potential Rollout Timeline for Circle to Search:
January 2024: Launch on Galaxy S24 and Pixel 8 Phones
Mid 2024: Expanded support for new premium Android phones
Late 2024: Available on selected mid-range models
2025 and Beyond: Continued expansion to more Android devices
Making Circle to Search accessible beyond just those who get the latest expensive phones aligns with Google’s ultimate goal – to improve search for everyone.
How Circle to Search Builds on Past Visual Search Efforts
While revolutionary in many respects, Circle to Search also has roots in Google’s previous experiments with visual search on Android.
Past capabilities like Lens and Google Goggles delivered some rudimentary visual identification and search features. But the new Circle to Search takes things to an entirely new level thanks to advancements in underlying AI.
Lens remains focused more on text translation and simple visually-prompted searches. Whereas Circle to Search can identify a huge range of objects and provide rich, relevant information instantly.
The new feature feels like a modern, supercharged take on visual search from over a decade ago. This time with the AI chops to truly deliver on the promise of search based on images rather than keywords.
What Circle to Search Means for the Future of Mobile Search
The launch of Circle to Search on the newest Galaxy and Pixel smartphones represents an evolution for Google Search. No longer limited to punching keywords into a search box, queries can now happen right from something the user visually interacts with – no text required.
It also shows the power of AI-driven computer vision. Google’s models have reached the sophistication needed to digest images and spit back useful information on just about anything a user encircles.
As the smarts behind Circle to Search advance, even more versatile applications could emerge. Like adding multiple circled items to a visual shopping list or research list automatically.
The implications for those with visual impairments are also profound. Circle to Search can read back detailed information on objects it might otherwise be impossible for some users to decipher. Making the world more accessible.
As with many major technology milestones, the launch of Circle to Search leaves some unanswered questions around data privacy, potential for misuse, and whether the hype lives up to real-world usage. But its debut definitively marks a new paradigm for search engines and their evolution.
After years of fine tuning, Google’s AI expertise and prowess appear ready to take search into new dimensions. And users need just pick up their phones and draw a circle to tap into an intelligence far beyond their own.
To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.