Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you
Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you

Google brings Circle to Search to Android (not just Galaxy phones)

Want to search something that’s appeared on your phone? You might just need to circle it.

One of the neat AI features announced for Samsung’s Galaxy S24 range isn’t just a feature for the Samsung models, but rather something for everyone with an upcoming Android, it seems.

With Samsung’s big Unpacked event over and the phones on their way to preorder status, Google is talking up the AI additions to its phones, as well, because the Galaxy phones run Android like most other phones in the world.

And that means changes to some of the operating system tech will be shared, which means some of what Samsung is offering will come to other phones, as well.

While it remains to be seen whether Samsung’s AI image and translation tech will be a part of that — we’re guessing no — Google has announced this week that some of the additions are features coming too more Android phones, particularly those with an AI-based chip.

That includes the “circle to search” feature Samsung talked up and we saw demonstrated, allowing you to circle or highlight something on the screen, and have Google search it. It could be a bit of text, an image, or even a still from a video. Based on our conversations with Samsung at the time, it might even be something from inside of a video game, with the circle effectively highlighting the subject, and that being sent to Google to search.

Officially, this feature was announced alongside the Galaxy S24 range, but it will reportedly be coming to other “premium Android smartphones” from January 31, which we’re taking to mean anything with an AI-capable chip. That reportedly starts with the S24 range due in February, but also means last year’s Pixel 8 Pro and the smaller Pixel 8, which will see the feature rolled out at the end of January in an update.

And it probably means you can expect it in any premium phone this year with an AI-ready chip, such as anything using the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, which includes neural cores.

Circle or highlight a section of what’s on screen, and using AI, Google will search it.

Circle to Search isn’t the only feature announced this week, joining another feature rolling out to every device with the Google app. The addition is improving something called “multisearch”, whereby you can layer queries on top of each other.

For instance, the Google app will now support additional questions on top of a search by the Lens camera search for Google, allowing you to snap a picture of something you want to search — a little like Circle to Search — and then add questions on top, such as if you snapped a picture of a flower and added “What conditions do I need to grow this”.

Multisearch is reportedly rolling out to the Google app, other additions, such as AI-powered overviews in search results are strictly for users in America, working in conjunction with Google’s Search Generative Experience, which doesn’t exist in Australia yet.

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