Research with images is the wave of the future. Regardless of whether you are trying to identify something you want to buy, look for offers or look for information on what you see in the world around you, visual search apps can help you.
With a smartphone and one of these apps, all you need to do is take a picture and the app will try to identify the object or reference point and find information about it.
Ready to get started? Here are our favorite visual search apps.
Best app for finding everything and everything: Google Lens
With Google Lens, all you have to do is point and shoot at any object, and Google Lens does a great job telling you what it is. I took a picture of a flowering plant that I'm growing on my Terrance and I found out it's an Alyssa. The camera also recognized a church I visited earlier this year in Oaxaca, Mexico, and did a good job of translating Spanish into English in real time of everything from signs to menus. You can also take pictures of clothes and other items and find similar items for purchase. It's a great app if you want to know everything you're looking at (or if you've forgotten the name of something and you really want to remember it).
You can access Google Lens through Google: Search, Discover, News or Google Photos for iPhone users and via Google Camera and the Google Photos app for Android. You can easily analyze photos or screenshots you've taken or analyze an image in real time.
Search for ebay images
Best app for finding hard to find items: Ebay
Do you see the perfect pair of shoes, a truck or an old-fashioned vase? You can use an image to find it, or something similar, on Ebay. Image search is an option in the standard search box, which allows you to take a photo or select a photo from the camera roll for the search. eBay will review over a billion items to find similar products, although how similar will depend on the photo and the object. A search for a pair of shoes, for example, will give you shoes with a similar style, but it may not necessarily be the same shoes.
Amazon Visual Image Search App
The best app for all types of purchases: Amazon Mobile
If shopping is what interests you, Amazon Mobile lets you easily find everything you stock using your smartphone's camera.
Just start your Amazon app and click on the camera next to the search bar. So the camera turns on and small dots will try to find the outlines of what you're taking a photo, then offer suggestions. There is also a specific search option for fashion, called Style Snap. You can extract a photo from the camera roll of your phone (select upload photos) or activate "Select recent screens" for easy access to the look you saved while browsing (the yellow dress is taken from a story that Elle did in the discoveries of summer fashion). Sometimes, Amazon does not recognize the item itself and asks if you want to look for the category that it considers the item to be; for example, I pointed the camera at the UE Boom speaker and, although he didn't recognize that it was the EU Boom, he recognized that I was pointing my camera at a speaker.
Realtor.com visual search app
Ideal for domestic hunting: Realtor.com
Looking for the perfect home? Realtor.com is the app for you. If you see a property you like while driving the neighborhoods, take a picture of the sale sign using the Realtor.com app to view the complete list of the home's properties.
You will have easy access to the complete details of the property and to the photos, all without having to leave the car to take a flyer.
Snip snap App Visual search
Best app for finding deals: Snip snap
If you are a couponer, chances are you are pretty strategic about where to buy; after all, the fun is in the pursuit of the lowest price! Snip snap is perfect for this: just take a picture of any paper coupon and the app will turn it into a mobile scan offer. Even better, if you take a picture of a product, the app will recognize it, so you'll find the prices from huge store databases and coupons. You will always get the best price.
Visual search for Pinterest
Best app for Pinner: Pinterest
Exactly, if you can block it, you can find it (well, at least a close approximation from other pins). Pinterest's visual search tool is really easy to use. Just click on the placeholder with the desired object, then tap the search icon in the corner. You can then adjust the box that appears to search only for what it contains. Pinterest then offers you a series of pins that look like the selected image so you can find where to find the object