Google Announces Lens Rollout To All Android Phones With Google Photos
iOS Lens Rollout Soon
Google announced via the Google Photos Twitter Feed that the highly anticipated Lens app will be rolled out to all Android Phones with Google Photos in the coming days. It’s anticipated that marketers will leverage Lens to facilitate better offline to online marketing experiences.
The announcement was expected, as Google indicated that it was coming at the Mobile World Congress conference recently. Early reports indicate that some Android phones have received the update, while others are still waiting. There’s no official date on the Apple iOS Google Photos update, but Google says it is coming soon.
Lens Leapfrogs Apple’s Native Camera QR Code Reader
Google’s announcement came as a part of the ongoing feature war between Google and Apple, as the two giants grapple for leadership in the mobile space. Apple’s iOS 11 was released in the fall of 2017 with a native QR Code scanner built into the camera app. With QR Codes gaining in popularity, both smartphone leaders have recognized that consumers want to use their phones to quickly access mobile and online content and services.
Lens takes the Apple innovation another step. The Lens app is able to recognize QR codes and many other types of offline information. We expect Apple to respond in 2018 with more native offline to online tools.
Easy Offline To Online Access Using Smartphone Cameras
Lens users simply tap on items of interest using the cameras to receive information instantly on their smartphones. Using advanced artificial intelligence, Google recognizes physical things from the offline world – and provide easy ways to do things online with information about those things.
What Can Google Lens Recognize?
As an artificial intelligence based app, Lens will get smarter as it is used more. Google Photos Help documents give several examples of what can be understood and acted on by Lens:
- Business Card – save the contact number or address to a contact
- Book – get reviews and other details about it
- Landmark, building, paintings in museums – get details
- A flyer, event billboard – add an event to your calendar
Lens Solves A Thorny Offline To Online Marketing Problem
For years, marketers have searched for ways to ease the transition from offline media, such as direct mail, brochures, and other printed materials to online services. Consumers prefer to respond to offers online, but some consumers just won’t type in URLs to respond. QR Codes have been a hit solution in some parts of the world, but aren’t widely adopted everywhere.
Google Lens is the beginning of a new wave of mobile, artificial intelligence driven apps that easily solve the offline to online marketing bridge problem. A quick tap on a printed URL or QR Code results in instant access to the web address, eliminating the need to type or download special scanning apps.
Direct Mail To Online Response Gets Really Easy
With smartphones in the hands of nearly every adult in the US, marketers can take full advantage of Google’s innovation and deploy direct mail and other print based advertising with tracking URLs, Personalized URLs and QR Codes to help drive their audiences to landing pages designed to convert. Direct mail is being deployed more frequently as a part of CRM and Marketing Automation driven, multi-channel campaigns.
We Gave Google Lens A Try
Since we all have smartphones and we have a lot of direct mail, pURLs and QR Codes around, we thought we’d give it a try. Google Lens is as easy as advertised. It took a couple of taps, and about 5 seconds, to get to our landing page via a printed URL.
Here’s how it worked:
- We launched Google Assistant (Lens hadn’t made it to our Google Photos yet)
- We tapped the Lens icon
- The camera app launched, and Lens gave instructions to “Tap On What You’re Interested In”
- We tapped on the pURL on the below direct mail piece. The link popped up on the screen
- We tapped the link and were brought to the landing page
With Apple’s iPhone now capable of reading QR Codes, and Google Lens launching, offline to online marketing is a much easier proposition for marketers to deploy. We expect to see an uptick in URLs, QR Codes and other offline to online bridge methods deployed in direct mail and other forms of print marketing, as omni and multi-channel marketing becomes a stronger focus for organizations of all sizes.