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Take a picture, and Pinterest will generate recommended pins for you

Beta version of Pinterest's new Lens feature now available to iOS, Android users

Pinterest Visual Discovery
A picture is worth 1,000 — pins? After introducing a feature last month called Lens, which is a visual discovery tool that allows users to search without words, Pinterest has launched a beta version. That means users can snap a photo of a dining room table they like and find similar tables to buy online. Or they can tap a photo of an outfit and find one just like it for sale. Or take a photo of a pomegranate and find some recipes.

The new features are powered by an artificial intelligence system that recognizes objects in photos, as well as identifies their features, such as color. Lens uses a smartphone camera to find similar pins. Pinterest says that shot of a dining room table could bring up similar table designs, or even other types of furniture with a similar style.

Lens works, for now, on home decor, apparel, and food, but Pinterest says as the more users try out the beta version, the more they’ll add to and enhance Lens. The feature can be used to pin something that’s hard to put into words, to look for a specific style that’s hard to describe or, as Pinterest is often good for, taking an idea and branching off into unexpected directions.

“Pinterest is built for open-minded discovery. Just like when you’re out window shopping. You see something that intrigues you, and you go inside. That’s how finding ideas on Pinterest should feel. And that’s exactly what we’re launching today,” Evan Sharp, Pinterest co-founder and head of product, wrote.

While Lens was introduced to a small group already, the feature is now available to both iOS and Android users, though Pinterest says that it’s still in beta. After updating, the app will include a red camera icon next to the search field — tapping that icon brings up Lens. While Pinterest says that Lens works pretty well with recipes and outfits, it’s still enhancing the program. Users can offer feedback on the new feature by tapping the “+” icon in the app.

Lens was introduced in February along with Shop The Look and Instant Ideas. Similar technology is powering the apparel-focused Shop the Look. In fashion shots, blue circles pop up over articles of clothing. Tapping the circle brings up similar items that are on sale via the platform’s buyable pins feature. The feature moves from finding style inspiration to purchasing that item with just a few taps.

Along with using the camera to generate pins, the same AI platform can now also generate ideas based on photos already on Pinterest. The feature is called Instant Ideas, and it’s as simple as tapping the circle in the bottom right corner to expand with related pins. Pinterest adds those related pins right into the feed, so there are no new screens, and you won’t lose your place in the board or search.

Instant Ideas and Shop The Look are already available on iPhone, Android, and the web. While Lens is still a beta version, it’s available to both iOS and Android users with an update.

Updated by Hillary Grigonis on March 13, 2017, to reflect the now universal availability of Lens.

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