Google adds new ‘Circle to Search’ feature to Android phones

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Google has introduced a new feature called “Circle to Search,” aiming to enhance the search experience on Android phones. This innovation allows users to search for information without having to switch between apps. The feature is designed to be intuitive, enabling users to perform searches with simple gestures like circling, highlighting, scribbling, or tapping.

With Circle to Search, users can seamlessly search for specific items or information while staying within their current app. For instance, if a user is watching a video and wants to identify items in the content, they can activate Circle to Search by long-pressing the home button or navigation bar on their Android phone. The user can then select any item in the video using gestures like circling, highlighting, or tapping. This initiates a search, providing similar, shoppable options from various online retailers.

The feature also supports multisearch, allowing users to search with both text and images simultaneously. This is particularly useful for more complex queries. For example, if a user comes across an image of a unique dish on social media, they can circle the item and ask a question like, “Why are these so popular?” The search results will pull together information from the web to provide insights into the popularity, ingredients, and background of the dish.

Circle to Search is not limited to visual content. Users can also apply it while browsing text content. For instance, if someone is on YouTube Shorts and encounters unfamiliar terminology like “thrift flipping,” they can quickly scribble over the text to initiate a search and learn that it involves buying items from thrift stores, fixing them up, and reselling them for a profit.

Why is this important?

Duncan Colman, Director at Spike commented; “‘Circle to Search’ is a statement of intent from Google that they intend to win the AR commerce space but also keep TikTok at bay from being the number 1 choice for Search. There is a nice element of gamification and fun with ‘Circle to Search’ – transitioning away from text-only search is exciting.

This feature is set to launch on January 31, initially available on select premium Android smartphones, including the Pixel 8, Pixel 8 Pro, and the new Samsung Galaxy S24 series. Circle to Search represents Google’s commitment to evolving search capabilities, making it more natural, convenient, and integrated into users’ daily activities on their Android devices.

images courtesy of Google