Google has added a very useful feature to Google Lens, its multipurpose object recognition tool. You can now copy and paste handwritten notes from your phone to your computer with Lens, though it only works if your handwriting is neat enough.
In order to use the new feature, you need to have the latest version of Google Chrome as well as the standalone Google Lens app on Android or the Google app on iOS (where Lens can be accessed through a button next to the search bar). You’ll also need to be logged in to the same Google account on both devices.
That done, simply point your camera at any handwritten text, highlight it on-screen, and select copy. You can then go to any document in Google Docs, hit Edit, and then Paste to paste the text. And voila — or, viola, depending on your handwriting.
In our tests, the feature was pretty hit or miss. If you don’t write neatly, you’ll definitely get some typos. But it’s still a cool feature that’s especially useful at a time when a lot of people are now working from home and relying on endless to-do lists to bring some sense of order to their day.
In addition to the new copy-and-paste feature, Google is also rolling out a pronunciation tool. Just highlight a word in Lens, and tap “Listen” to hear how it’s pronounced. (This is available in Android now and coming to iOS soon.) You can also now look up concepts with Lens, searching for phrases like “gravitational waves” to get in-line Google search results. That’s potentially very handy if you’re doing schoolwork or helping your children with theirs.
These are welcome additions to Google Lens, which has always promised more than it really delivered. Having a visual search tool that can identify anything you stick in front of your phone is the dream of Lens, but it’s never quite been fast or reliable enough to make it a reality. These latest updates certainly push it in the right direction.