Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Dec. 7 upgraded its Goggles visual search application to let users receive search results without clicking the camera shutter on Android smartphones.
Goggles lets users scan objects such as book covers, paintings, landmarks and other objects with a smartphone camera to retrieve information on Google's search engine about that object.
Over the last two-plus years, Google has trained it to recognize Sudoku puzzles and the Russian language, and alert users to images that they take with their Android phone's camera that match those in Google's database.
Goggles 1.7 for Android includes continuous mode, which lets users get Goggles search results immediately without clicking or tapping the shutter button on their Android handset. This means Goggles can now scan several items through the camera's view finder at once.
"Goggles will scan the scene continuously so you don't need to worry about taking multiple pictures,"Google software engineer David Petrou wrote in a corporate blog post. "The new continuous mode works best with books, products, artwork, and landmarks."
Note that continuous mode will only work for Android 2.3 Gingerbread phones, such as the new Motorola Droid Razr and Samsung Galaxy S II models.
This doesn't mean single snapshots are going away. Google is retaining the classic snapshot mode for Goggles because it will do things that continuous mode cannot yet, including translating text (like Russian) and adding a contact from a business card and such. Moreover, Petrou said images recognized in continuous mode sessions won't show up in users' Goggles search history.
Also, with Goggles 1.7, when the app recognizes a portion of text, it will use that text to help drive more accurate results for scanned text.
So if a user is reading a magazine article and decides he or she likes it enough it share it with friends, the user can aim the phone camera at a part of the page and instantly find a link to an online version to share immediately or read again later.
Google also upgraded its search results submission feature, which helps Google improve Goggles by letting users suggest better results. Now when a user suggests a better result, it could become a result for the next user who searches for a similar object with Goggles.
Google has been regularly improving Goggles since its launch in 2009, and the service is certainly getting smarter in terms of being more in tune with what users are looking for.
Eventually, the app could prove quite the shopping tool for users who want to search for more info on a product in a store by taking images with their Android handsets and iPhones.