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Google Photos now lets you search for text in your images

Google Photos has long been the go-to cloud photo service for many, and it’s now getting a new feature that makes it even better. The service already allows you to tag aspects of an image so that you can find images later and group them together, but now it’ll allow you to search for photos based on text in those photos. So, for example, if you take a picture of a document, you’ll be able to search for that photo later despite the image not being tagged with that text.

The new feature leverages Google’s experience in artificial intelligence, and essentially allows Google Photos to scan your images for text. You can use that text too — once you find the photo you’re looking for, you can use the Lens button to copy the text, after which you can paste it into a word processor or other app to use later.

This could come in handy for any number of features. You could use it to copy/paste from entire documents or to copy a super-long Wi-Fi password to enter into your device.

The tech itself is called OCR, or on-screen character recognition, and it’s a type of image recognition has evolved a lot over the years. Once you upload an image with text to the cloud, Google Photos automatically tags that image with any text in the image — so that you’ll be able to quickly and easily find it later.

It’s important to note that Google Lens already used OCR tech, but it was through a live camera view — not for photos already taken. Now that the tech is being applied to Google Photos, it will likely be a lot more useful.

Google Photos, in general, is getting better and better. Last year, Google Photos added depth control for both the iOS and Android apps, allowing users to tweak the level of bokeh, or background blur, after having already taken the photo. The feature is only available for images that have that depth data available, but it’s still a pretty handy touch — as not everyone knows exactly what will look best when they’re actually taking the photo.

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