Popular Circle to Search feature may come to Google Chrome for iOS

Google Chrome on Android
(Image credit: Rafapress/Shutterstock)

Launched in January, Google’s Circle to Search has been one of the best new features on Android in quite some time. Now, it might be coming to the iOS version of Google Chrome

Circle to Search allows users to draw circles on images displayed on their phone. The tool identifies the object and then commences a Google search. 

Initially, the feature was only available for the Samsung Galaxy S24 lineup and the Pixel 8. It’s been slowly added to older Pixel phones, but hasn’t really left the Galaxy or Pixel families. 

A Circle to Search upgrade for Chrome for desktops was already hinted at late last week via an apparent Google Lens update that is coming. However, it's a work in progress that we might not see for some time. 

However, the crew at Mac Observer recently what could be an updated version of Google Lens Search for iOS in the form of a "Lens Circle to Search" flag in the code for Chrome for iOS.

Like the desktop Chrome version, it’s not clear when or if Google might release a Circle to Search update for Chrome.  It appears the potential feature is still under code review, and it’s not certain where in the process that review is taking place.

An iOS workaround

As mentioned, Google has kept Circle to Search pretty exclusive to Galaxy and Pixel phones. How long they want to keep that going is up in the air.

Enterprising iOS users can already sort of use Google Lens and iOS Shortcuts as a recreation of Circle to Search. There is a “Search your Screenshot” shortcut that can be used on iPhones and iPads. Once a screenshot is taken, Google Lens can be used to automatically search it.

iPhone 15 Pro users can set the shortcut to the Action button. It’s a bit clunkier and doesn’t bring the specificity or speed of Circle to Search, but the option is there.

There has been speculation that Chrome updates might get slotted in with announcements about Android 15 during I\O 2024. However, the Android 15 updates we did get were more related to AI and Google Gemini features coming to Android. Perhaps, more will come when Android 15 releases this fall in time for the next Google Pixel phones.

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Scott Younker
West Coast Reporter

Scott Younker is the West Coast Reporter at Tom’s Guide. He covers all the lastest tech news. He’s been involved in tech since 2011 at various outlets and is on an ongoing hunt to build the easiest to use home media system. When not writing about the latest devices, you are more than welcome to discuss board games or disc golf with him.