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Google brings ‘Circle to Search’ variant to iPhone users

Image Source: Google

Google has found a way to bring a variation of its clever “circle search” gesture to iPhone users. Launched in January, this new interactive feature makes it easier to use Google Search from any screen by allowing Android users to search anywhere on their device by circling, highlighting, scribbling or clicking. Of course, similar options aren’t available to iPhone users because Google doesn’t control the iOS operating system like Android does. To solve this problem, Google is now using Apple’s Action Button on iPhone 15 Pro devices to quickly and intuitively search anything on the screen with the press of a button.

The action button is no longer a simple ring/silent switch, it allows users to customize the functions of the iPhone side buttons according to their needs. It can be configured to launch the camera, translate conversations, enable focus mode, activate the flashlight, and more. Alternatively, users can assign their own shortcut to the action button to launch another task, such as starting a ChatGPT voice session.

Take Google, for example. The company has launched a shortcut that allows iPhone users to launch visual searches through Google Lens.

“It’s basically a loop search, but faster!” Google Lens Design Manager Minsang Choi said in The post on X has now been deleted, in which he describes shortcuts created by the Google App iOS team. (Apparently, this was an unapproved release. We’ve asked Google to comment on the removal.)

Image Source: Screenshot from X

While Google’s iOS app already offers a way to visually search using Lens, adding a shortcut would make it easier to start a search with a simple gesture, similar to Android. However, it also highlights the difficulties involved in trying to innovate new ways of interacting with technology when building iOS: workarounds must be used instead of providing gestures.

To use the shortcut, iPhone users need to install the Google app for iOS, and then need to download the shortcut and assign it to an action button in iOS settings. Although Choi’s shortcut link has been removed, there is still a way to make it.

From the iOS Shortcuts app, create a shortcut that first takes a screenshot and then performs the Search Image with Lens action, as shown in the example below. This essentially mimics the Circle with Search feature, but using Google Lens on the iPhone.

9to5Mac, who first spotted the build, also noted that if you’re not using an iPhone 15 Pro device, you can launch the new shortcut by configuring the accessibility feature “Back.”

Image Source: Screenshot of the iOS Shortcuts app


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