December 7, 2009 | by Andrew Kameka
Google has made two announcements today that will add on to it’s already extensive presence in mobile search. Android users can now “Search by Sight” with Google Goggles, a visual search option for Android. Simply snap a photo of a book, landmark, business card, barcode, or artwork, and the app will return Google search results for that item. Google Goggles even includes an augmented reality element for local businesses. When the app is launched facing a business front, GPS and compass technology helps reveal a store name. Tap the name to see more.
UPDATE: THIS APP WORKS ONLY ON ANDROID 1.6 OR HIGHER, SO HERO AND OTHER CUPCAKE PHONES CANNOT USE IT.
Google Goggles is an app that performs Google queries based on images rather than entered text. It will not always perform well on cars, animals, plants, or appeal, but it’s a strong entrance. I’m surprised that this is available because just yesterday I was responding to someone wondering if there was an Android app that could provide a tour guide to an area or contextual information about items in an art gallery. Less than 24 hours later, here’s Google adding yet another layer to its search portfolio.
Google also announced “What’s Nearby” for Google Maps on Android 1.6 or higher. Update the Maps app in the Android Market and you will be able to take advantage of the new feature.
To use the feature just long press anywhere on the map, and we’ll return a list of the 10 closest places, including restaurants, shops and other points of interest. It’s a simple answer to a simple question, finally. (And if you visit google.com from your iPhone or Android device in a few weeks, clicking “Near me now” will deliver the same experience [video].)
Of course our future plans include more than just nearby places. In the new year we’ll begin showing local product inventory in search results [video]; and Google Suggest will even include location-specific search terms [video]. All thanks to powerful, Internet-enabled mobile devices.