Well, this came out of nowhere. Instead of opening the 2017 edition of the I/O developer festival with a predictable rundown of some of Android O’s most important features and improvements over Nougat or perhaps that oft-rumored standalone VR headset, Google CEO Sundar Pichai took the Shoreline Amphitheatre stage in Mountain View, California to demo a groundbreaking new “initiative” dubbed Lens.

This is basically what Bixby Vision may eventually grow into if Samsung puts enough effort in, recognizing images like a champion. Headed “first” to Google Assistant and Photos services, Google Lens can accurately identify a flower your smartphone camera is pointed at, pull a restaurant’s info from the interwebs on the fly, and cooler yet, save a router’s username and password from a picture of its sticker.

Yes, it’s that smart and powerful, at least in theory, though it probably apes some of Google Translate’s long-standing OCR (optical character recognition) capabilities, which makes it, well, not entirely new and innovative. Still, the Google Lens project could change the digital assistant game if it truly “understands what you see to help you take action”, as teased at I/O 2017.

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