Gboard is picking up a neat camera trick that lets you 'Scan Text'

Gboard tiles on a Google Pixel 6
(Image credit: Namerah Saud Fatmi / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google is starting to roll out Gboard's "Scan Text" feature to users, which feels a lot like Google Lens.
  • Users can launch the mode and snap a photo of something with text, and Gboard will attempt to copy it onto their phone for easy pasting into messages and more.
  • "Scan Text" was previously spotted in a Gboard beta and showed that the photo isn't saved on your device; it simply exists for the moment before disappearing.

Google's Gboard is reportedly rolling out a new feature to users that brings some camera work to their keyboards.

As spotted by Mishaal Rahman, Gboard has received a new "Scan Text" feature that piggybacks off a user's camera. Interacting with the feature will open your camera, taking up a little more than half of your display. A button will appear centered at the bottom with an accompanying tagline that says, "take a photo of words to scan."

Gboard will attempt to make out all of the words of a photo, highlighted in blue, with tags on either end so users can make adjustments. You can then "insert" what the app has captured from the photo into messages, notes, and more. The feature also shows a quick preview of what it copied beside the insert button.

Rahman adds that several users have come to him about receiving the update. However, it doesn't appear to be widespread. It might take a little longer before everyone picks it up.

This new mode, which feels a lot like Google Lens, was discovered to be in development back in November. In Gboard's 13.6 beta, it was discovered that users must first grant the app permission to use their camera before progressing. "Scan Text" should also remain open in case users are looking to snap another picture and paste more into a document or wherever.

Moreover, it's worth noting that Gboard's new feature doesn't "save" the photo to your device. It simply captures it for the moment for copying and pasting purposes before disposing of it.

Another feature discovered in a Gboard beta was Google's work to improve the landscape typing experience. Turning a phone sideways popped the keyboard out into a small floating window that users could move around or resize. This change to automatically turn the keyboard into a floating entity removes the hassle of needing to dive into Gboard's settings.

Nickolas Diaz
News Writer

Nickolas is always excited about tech and getting his hands on it. Writing for him can vary from delivering the latest tech story to scribbling in his journal. When Nickolas isn't hitting a story, he's often grinding away at a game or chilling with a book in his hand.

  • vaffangool
    How does this save a step from using Google Translate to accomplish the same thing? You'll still have to open up a text editor (or some other app with a text entry field) to call up the keyboard, or place an icon to call up Gboard directly from your home screen, which in practical terms is no different from opening a non-system app.