Google unveils Circle to Search for Galaxy S24 and Pixel 8 — here’s how it works

Google lets you circle an object to search for it
(Image credit: Google)

Google has unveiled a new feature for the latest Android handsets that lets you search for details of any object in a video, image or even line of text just by circling or scribbling on the item.

Dubbed "Circle to Search", the feature is available at a system level in the latest Pixel 8 and Samsung S24 phones by gesturing to pull up the feature, or long-pressing the navigation bar at the bottom of the screen.

Once activated you can draw a circle around a pair of boots, a microphone or even a wall light shown at an unusual angle and it will show Google Search results for that object — similar to the way Google Lens works but for specific items in a view.

What apps does Circle to Search work with?

Circle to Search

(Image credit: Google)

Google says you can use Circle to Search with any app on the device. In a press demonstration, they showed it working on a YouTube video, in a photo shared by a friend and on text in a message.

One of the most interesting uses for the technology is in retail. Imagine watching your favorite YouTuber and spotting an impressive looking light setup on their wall. Instead of having to search for the name of the YouTuber, what light they use and hoping someone has shared that information — you just circle it and Google does the hard part: sourcing and presenting a set of shopping links, images and other results.

Working with generative AI

The new Circle to Search tool also works with the new generative artificial intelligence features inside Google Lens.

When you circle the light display, scribble over a pair of boots or draw around that gaming chair Google Lens opens and you can ask a question alongside the image search.

Instead of just showing a set of image results, Google will give you a text response — for example by explaining who made the boots, what they are made of and providing shopping links to get your own pair.

“With a simple gesture, you can select images, text or videos in whatever way comes naturally to you — like circling, highlighting, scribbling or tapping — and find the information you need right where you are.”

Elizabeth Reid, VP Google Search

Circle to Search and the generative AI results in Google Lens are the latest in a growing shift from Google towards answers rather than results. The company says the goal is to make it as easy as possible for users to find what they are looking for.

Elizabeth Reid, Vice President of Google Search said in a statement: “With a simple gesture, you can select images, text or videos in whatever way comes naturally to you — like circling, highlighting, scribbling or tapping — and find the information you need right where you are.”

Circle to Search is only available on Android and in the U.S. right now, with no indication of when it might be rolled out globally. Or, in fact, made available for other Android handsets.

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Ryan Morrison
AI Editor

Ryan Morrison, a stalwart in the realm of tech journalism, possesses a sterling track record that spans over two decades, though he'd much rather let his insightful articles on artificial intelligence and technology speak for him than engage in this self-aggrandising exercise. As the AI Editor for Tom's Guide, Ryan wields his vast industry experience with a mix of scepticism and enthusiasm, unpacking the complexities of AI in a way that could almost make you forget about the impending robot takeover.
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