Google is rolling out its Goggles product as part of an update to its iPhone suite, taking iPhone users right up to the bleeding edge of what even Google can achieve.
We say "bleeding edge" advisedly, as Google Goggles is a very ambitious attempt to trigger internet searches based on photographs, and one that (in our experience) barely works. The app is still officially a beta product, and has been available for Android for around a year, but now iPhone users can join the fun of taking photographs and then watching Google fail to identify them.
The updated Google Mobile App is already in the UK app store, and will be spreading around the world over the next few days.
Google makes it clear that the application won't work properly with people or pets, or cars, or furniture, or plants, but it does work with books, CDs and such like - easily picking out the better-known company (and publisher) logos. Apparently it's also good on landmarks, and sure enough Goggles successfully spotted the Arc de Triomphe, though it comprehensively failed to identify the World's Largest Thermometer - surely a landmark of equal importance.
In addition to being unable to recognise obscure Americana, Goggles also requires a clear framing of the picture and decent lighting. This takes up time which could be better spent typing in a text-based search. But if you fancy seeing what the future will be like then it's worth a look, even if it will also remind you that the future is some way off. ®