Google Lens takes a back seat in the latest Pixel camera update

Looking at the camera viewfinder on a Google Pixel 7
(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google's version 8.7.250 camera app update tucks away the Lens feature.
  • Google Lens can no longer be activated by holding down the viewfinder, doing so will prompt a "Google lens has moved to Modes" message.
  • The Modes folder can be found at the very end of the rightmost portion of the bottom scrolling menu.

Google's latest camera update seems to have introduced extra steps for users looking to activate Lens.

As spotted by Android Police, Google's most recent update to its camera app on Pixels has shuffled its Lens feature to the wayside. We noticed the recent change on our Pixel 7, which has removed the Lens shortcut from the camera app's viewfinder. Typically, this could be activated quite easily by holding down the viewfinder for a second or so before the app brings up Google Lens.

However, after updating to the latest version (8.7.250), long-pressing the viewfinder from the camera app gives you a toast message stating, "Google lens has moved to Modes."

This change is an odd one, considering how prevalent Google Lens has become throughout the company's ecosystem. Google Lens is featured on the company's search widget bar on many Android phones, on Chrome for desktop computers, and (formerly) through the camera app. This feature is an easy way for users to quickly search for something they've seen without spending the time manually typing it in.

Now, it feels like we've gone back a little by having it hidden away in the Modes section of the camera app. This is accessible via the side-scrolling menu at the bottom of the camera app. Users can now find Lens tucked secretly away in this mini app folder at the rightmost end of the menu. You could make the argument that Lens isn't exactly a mode, more of a feature, a way of searching with ease. Unfortunately, you can't drag and drop these modes into your camera carousel like you can on other devices.

Of course, you can always access Lens easily from your home screen, so it's not much of a loss. In fact, instead of activating Lens, users are able to lock focus on an object in the frame when they press and hold the viewfinder, which can really come in handy.

Google started rolling out the camera update last week, which introduced betters controls over Pixel phones' macro focus feature. Users can now decide how they'd like to take detailed up-close shots by letting the lens activate automatically, tapping the "on" button to keep it active, or "off" to disable the feature. This update also removes the user's ability to decide how its double-tap feature works.

The camera app update also came three days after Google's December feature drop for Pixel devices. This patch included the free Google One VPN for the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro, along with speaker labels for the recorder app.

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.