Google Introduces "Circle" Searches

John Lister's picture

Google has come up with a new twist when it comes to searching on mobile devices. Users of some Android handsets can draw a circle round text or images on their screen to search.

The "Circle to Search" feature will also let users ask specific questions relating to what they have selected.

Unlike many search tools, this will work directly in any app, not just the Chrome browser or other Google applications. Google gives the example of searching for information relating to a video or social media posts. (Source:

The search results will then appear in a pop-up window. Users can tap through to see full details on the web, or close the window and return to the app they were using.

Scribbling Also Works

Google says the tool works as a three step process: hold down ("long press") the phone's home button or navigation bar; draw a circle around the text or image; then either wait for search results, or type or speak a specific question.

Despite the name, demonstration videos show users don't necessarily need to draw a circle. Simply "scribbling" or swiping over the text or image will do the trick. Videos will be paused to make it easier to select the required section of the picture.

The Google system will then analyze the text or carry out image recognition to get more details of what the user is looking for.

Shopping Links Likely

Google gives several examples of possible uses:

1. Identifying the brands worn by somebody in a video. (The answers and results will include "shoppable links" which certainly sounds like an advertising opportunity for Google's income).

2. Asking why a particular food item shown in social media posts has suddenly become popular.

3. Explaining an unfamiliar term such as "thrift flipping."

The tool will initially only be available on "select premium" phones, specifically Google's Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro, plus Samsung's Galaxy S24. Google hasn't said if it plans to keep this as a premium feature, is giving advanced access to buyers of its own handsets as a marketing ploy, or is using this as a test run before rolling it out to all Android users. (Source:

What's Your Opinion?

Will this feature be useful? Do you trust Google to give useful results rather than be driven by ad partnerships? How easy do you think it would be to accurately circle something on your phone screen?

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