As much as I disdain all things Google, there are times when the company comes up with a new product or idea or application that I want to use and wish Apple or somebody else had a counterpart. Like Google Lens.
Apple seems to have come from behind to jump ahead with augmented reality on new iPhones and iOS 11, but Google found a way to do something that Apple hasn’t bothered with AR. Yet. Something useful. Lens interacts with your iPhone’s photos.
Google’s machine learning seems to be the best in the land. After all, when you scour personal data from a few billion users, you’re bound to come up with some insight and functionality that lesser competitors do not have. Yet.
For example, Google Lens can take a photo of a business car and save the name, phone number, and address as a contact. Take a photo of a book and Lens can find reviews and other details. Take a photo of a building or some tourist landmark and Google Lens comes up with more information.
For now, Google Lens works in the Google Photos app for Android, iPhone, and iPad, but it’s the start of what we’ll see more of in the future. Real time augmented reality. Google Lens works on photos you take now and the machine learning takes place in the background. In the future, perhaps we’ll get such information as we’re taking photos. Live.
That is useful. We need more of that kind of capability on iPhone and iPad. Augmented reality that does something more than have dinosaurs dance around a playground.
Is there a problem with Google Lens? Yes.
Think about what happens when you interact with Google in any way. Take the company’s vaunted search engine as the first example. Google knows who you are, where you live, what you do, where you do it, what you view online, which websites you visit, where you’re employed, and now you’re giving Google your photos so… well… repeat the above list. In exchange for a few pieces of information about each photo, Google gathers ever more information about you.
How is that a good thing for you?
How is that a good thing for Google?
Remember, Google may have a playful, colorful company logo which puts it in company with Fisher Price but what goes on behind the scenes– in places you don’t know about but would be concerned about if you knew– Google collects information and makes money by selling it advertisers or using it for advertising. To get you to buy more products. All these free applications are there for a reason. To make you feel good about giving up information about yourself so a company can make a profit.
That’s why Google Lens is something Apple needs to do for iPhone and iPad customers. It’s augmented reality with usefulness built-in. While Apple seems to come down on the side of privacy and security far more than Google, remember that Google pays Apple a few billion dollars a year to ensure that Google’s search engine remains the default search on Safari for iPhone, iPad, and Mac.
Apple needs to keep pace with advancements in technology that provide useful functionality for their customers– about a billion strong– and to ensure alternatives for what Google does. Remember; Google gets rich on Apple’s customers. Apple doesn’t get so rich from Android or Windows customers.