Google Oct. 5 released a version of its Google Goggles visual search application for Apple's iPhone, the latest in a string of Google-related software releases since Apple relaxed its developer licensing terms.
Google Goggles is a mobile application that lets users take a picture of a location or objects such as a product or painting from their smartphone and do a Google search that pulls up information associated with the image.
Google in December made the application available for smartphones based on Google's Android operating system Version 1.6 and up.
Goggles has been a popular draw among users of the Motorola Droid, Google Nexus One and HTC Droid Incredible, and as recently in June it was rumored to be coming to the iPhone.
Rumor has become reality. Goggles, as part of the refreshed Google Mobile App, should please iPhone users thirsty for visual search.
Users tap on the camera button to search using Goggles and the app will analyze landmarks, logos, books, DVDs and games. The app still doesn't yet distinguish between animals, plants or food. Google is working to increase its object coverage with Goggles.
Beginning today, English-speaking iPhone users can find and download Google Mobile App with Google Goggles free from the Apple App Store by searching for "Google Mobile App."
The app requires an auto-focusing camera, which means it will run on iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 running iOS 4 or above.
Like Google Voice, which aped some of the functionality of Apple's iPhone, Goggles had been shut out of Apple's iPhone because Apple has fought to protect the company's competitive advantage. But Apple bought its own visual search company Polar Rose last month, so perhaps Goggles isn't the threat it first assumed.
The iPhone is easily the most popular smartphone in the United States, though Android is gaining serious market share from Apple and RIM, making Android handsets a viable threat.
Despite this, enough developers complained so that Apple last month relaxed its iPhone licensing agreement, paving the way for Google Voice and other third-party apps to compete with the iPhone.
GV Mobile and GV Connect, which people use to route calls to their phones using a special phone number, are available for $2.99 in Apple's App Store.
Google's official Google Voice app for the iPhone is rumored to be close to completion. Until then, Goggles should keep some more Google users happy.