Google has announced a new tool that will enable users to get information about any object just by pointing a phone camera at it.
Google Lens uses image recognition software and artificial intelligence to answer questions about anything the user photographs.
It is due to be added to the company’s smart virtual helper, Google Assistant, before being rolled out.
The tech giant says the tool will enable people to identify, for example, flowers or artworks.
It can also be used as an interface to process images, for example by connecting a phone to a wifi network by taking a picture of a router’s password.
It was unveiled at Google’s annual developer conference I/O, which started on Wednesday near the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, California.
Google chief executive Sundar Pichai said technology is moving to an “AI-first world”, and the company is embracing it.
The company also announced its Google Home smart speaker will soon be able to make voice calls.
Google Home was launched in the UK in March and is a rival to the Amazon Echo, which uses its own voice-based assistant, Alexa, to answer questions and help with tasks.
Alexa, which, like Google’s Home, continuously listens for queries from its owners, has come under a degree of criticism for answering questions when not required to do so.
Google Home will begin providing “visual responses” to questions, for example by displaying a weather forecast on a TV if requested.
Android O, the latest version of Google’s mobile operating system, will be released this summer, the firm said.
It will be available to download on many of the two billion devices that now run on Android.
The new system will prolong battery life, the company said.
For less powerful devices, the firm is planning to release a streamlined version called Android Go, which will work on phones or tablets with less than 1GB of internal memory.
Google hopes the simpler operating system will help it get more customers in emerging market countries such as India and Brazil where many people own older generation phones or do not have the resources to afford large data allowances.
The company also announced plans for indoor mapping software which will enable people to navigate, for example, inside shops to help them find items they want to buy.
In addition, it is working with several partners on a range of virtual reality headsets that do not require connection to a computer or a phone.
It is not known whether Mr Pichai was challenged over whether Google was planning to tackle concerns about the implications for privacy that could arise as a result of image recognition software.
Google withdrew its Google Glass product after a number of concerns were raised, with the device’s video camera filming people without their knowledge among them.
More information is expected in the coming days on Google’s plans for wearables with Android Wear, as well as Android TV, and at the end of the three-day event there will be a live-streamed concert by LCD Soundsystem.