Google adding augmented reality results to search, expanding Google Lens

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During its I/O developer keynote on Tuesday, Google announced that it's adding augmented reality to general search with the ability to drop a result into the surroundings on a mobile device, and is upgrading Google Lens as well.

Where available, 3D models marked by icons will appear in search results, said Google's Aparna Chennapragada. Models can be simply be rotated within the search app, but on compatible devices these can be pushed into the "real" world for scale.

Google used examples such as a great white shark and an anatomical diagram of muscle flexion. It's also partnering with companies like New Balance, which is letting people use the technology to preview shoe purchases.

Google Lens upgrades include the ability to see popular dishes on a restaurant menu, and calculate a bill tip or split by pointing a phone at a receipt. How-to videos can pop up when looking at a recipe, and real-time text translations can be overlaid when traveling.

The company spent extra time highlighting the translation feature, noting that it works on phones that cost as little as $35 and takes up just over 100 kilobytes of space — with support for 12 languages, such as French, German, Spanish, Japanese, and Korean.

AR-related updates "start later this month," Google said. It's not yet clear if this will include the Google iPhone and iPad app, but that's likely given previous roll-outs.

Apple has become increasingly invested in augmented reality, but mostly through ARKit, its platform for third-party apps. The company is believed to be moving towards a dedicated AR headset launching in 2020 — the company will naturally need to expand AR functions to make the headset useful.