Circle to Search sort of makes its way to iPhones, with a Chrome version spotted

Using Google Circle to Search on a Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google Search app for iPhones brings a new shortcut to trigger a Google Lens shortcut not too unlike Circle to Search.
  • iPhone users with the Action button can trigger the Google Lens feature by assigning the shortcut.
  • Other iPhones can use the feature by assigning it to double/triple-tap shortcuts in accessibility settings.
  • A Chrome version of Circle to Search (or something similar) is also being tested on the web browser.

Google’s Circle to Search is built upon the search giant’s already popular Google Lens feature. While it is designed to be convenient to access on Android devices, it hasn't been made available for iPhones, which will likely change with the new workaround.

According to 9to5Google, the latest iPhones, like the iPhone 15 Pro Max, users can now assign a shortcut to the Action Button to take a screenshot of the current screen and open it in the Google Lens app for analysis. While it's not exactly the same methodology as Circule to Search, it effectively gets the same job done.

You can check out the video of the shortcut in action posted by 9to5:

This also works for older iPhones that don't have the Action Button. Using the Back Tap gesture in the accessibility settings on the iPhones, the same functionality can be assigned as a shortcut. To trigger the shortcut, users can either double or triple-tap on the back of their iPhones.

After capturing the screenshot and is opened via Google Lens, users will be able to copy text, translate it, or do a visual search just like they do Circle to Search on Android phones. However, it is limited to that, and users still can't perform Circle to Search's iconic ability to circle or squiggle the stuff they want to find on the screenshot. 

Yet, having the ability to access Circle to Search functionality with a simple shortcut is still a convenient addition for iPhone users, especially since not everyone is taken with the method to activate the feature on Android phones.

But the iPhone isn't the only place that's adding quick access to Google Lens magic. Another variation was also spotted in Google Chrome as an experimental feature, with Lens gaining a new animation, per X user Leopeva 64. 

As seen in the shared video, when the Lens UI icon is clicked, the page turns blurry, aided by a Google Lens icon attached to the mouse pointer where users can squiggle on the page to perform a Google Lens search. It appears to be some Chrome version of Circle to Search, which should be handy when the rollout happens to be official.

It's not clear when that will rollout, but perhaps we'll hear something soon at Google I/O 2024, which is less than a week away.

Vishnu Sarangapurkar
News Writer

Vishnu works as a freelance News Writer for Android Central. For the past four years, he's been writing about consumer technology, primarily involving smartphones, laptops, and every other gizmo connected to the Internet. When he is away from keyboard, you can see him going on a long drive or chilling on a couch binge-watching some crime series.