At the end of last year, a Google Search update came out that added a "Search with Camera" feature. With Google Search, you could fire up your camera, snap a picture of something, and it would do an image search - it was basically Google Goggles integration. Besides the usual Goggles stuff, it was also really useful for scanning QR codes.

But, a few days ago, when the Search 2.5 update hit, "Search With Camera" got kicked to the curb.

wm_2013-05-20 13.49.08wm_2013-05-20 13.45.55

On the left is 2.4, on the right is 2.5. In 2.5, the "Search with camera" menu option is gone, and none of the voice commands work - camera search is completely disabled.

We've tried contacting Google about this, and they never got back to us, so we really have no idea why this feature suddenly vanished.


We know technically why. "Enable_goggles" in resvaluesbools.xml is set to "false," which really doesn't look like an accident. So the question is, why? Why remove a perfectly working, useful feature?

Hopefully someone out there at Google is listening, and will at least give us an answer.

Ron Amadeo
Ron loves everything related to technology, design, and Google. He always wants to talk about "the big picture" and what's next for Android, and he's not afraid to get knee-deep in an APK for some details. Expect a good eye for detail, lots of research, and some lamenting about how something isn't designed well enough.
  • Michael Pahl

    Never worked properly for me.

    • wickets

      agree, ergo the question to mr. amedeo: what did you find so useful about the search feature? In my use it never once gave a result....for instance taking a picture of a can of beans or a book cover yielded no results

      • catpunt

        It was a cool feature but it stopped working from the app some time ago. But you can still accomplish the same thing using Google's website from your phone. I've used it to find out what things are eg. some flowers I didn't know the name of

      • BroadcastJunkie

        I liked it for my chrome extension QR generator. Where basically I make a code to a link and scan with the phone. Made downloading things straight to the phone simple and quick. Now, I need another app to basically show me a link that I could have just sent to my phone via text. So I guess I'll go back the texting route till they add this back

        • Mike

          How bout Chrome to Phone?

  • http://twitter.com/IamPeePay Tomáš Petrík

    Just noticed this yesterday... Sad indeed.

  • Lekz

    There was an update to Goggles before i/o. Maybe they found people us goggles standalone more than camera search? It was also easier to tap on the goggles icon rather than scroll down my Now card list to hit the menu and then camera search.

    • andy_o

      Was gonna say this. Also, Goggles is much better, for instance it doesn't require a shutter press for scanning, and it searches for logos and text, not only barcodes.

      • Simon Belmont

        Yeah. Goggles is more in depth, definitely.

        But for a quick voice activated barcode scan, Google Search was great. That's why I loved that feature.

        • andy_o

          You can still say "open Goggles", or if you have CM or AOKP set up a ring nav shortcut or some other thing.

          • Simon Belmont

            That's very true, and a good point. I've opened plenty of apps with a voice command.

            Maybe they'll bring it back. Alternatively, maybe they're working on bigger and better things with "search with camera" for a future Google Now/Voice Search update.

        • nejai

          or to be called for a custom app when needs to scan a barcode..google search was there always..without that you should implement it yourself or make sure a third app is installed as googles o barcode scanner... annoying :/

    • Moleculor

      I couldn't even figure out how to get the 'Search with camera' option to
      work. Fez for the PC came out, and there were QR codes to scan.

      I launched Google Goggles (Googgles!) and suddenly discovered that it was
      tied into the camera... and wouldn't scan the QR codes.

      Ended up having to download a separate QR code scanning app just to scan the codes.

      I for one am happy that Googgles (hee!) is back. I missed it.

  • Fiorta

    Your pictures are reversed... The right is 2.4, not 2.5.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/ron-amadeo/ Ron Amadeo

      Oops. fixed, sorry.

  • Owen Finn

    I would assume they will be removing camera access entirely over the next few months to prepare for the general launch of Google Glass?

    • Dan Bennett

      How on Earth does the launch of Glass in any way justify or explain them taking camera search out of a mobile app?

      • jammer

        Sounded like sarcasm to me...

    • squiddy20

      Yeah, cause Glass will be so cheap it will become mainstream in a matter of days/weeks and we will have no further use for the cameras on our phones...

  • Simon Belmont

    This is a shame. I used this a lot for barcodes.

    Hopefully, it's just an oversight and will be reenabled. Perhaps in an update to the app accompanying the launch of Android 4.3?

  • Brad

    I'm sad they pulled but glad I'm not going insane. I spent 5 minutes trying to 'find' search with camera a few days ago.

  • Dan Bennett

    Slightly off-topic, but am I the only one annoyed and confused by the fact you have to scroll to the bottom of the card list to get to the menu button?

    • xnifex

      nope, completely ridiculous.

    • Scott

      Yeah kind of annoying to say the least.

    • ocdtrekkie

      I have a capacitive menu button on my phone DROID 4. I can access the menu from anywhere in Now. =)

    • flosserelli

      Nope. The dedicated menu button on my Note 2 is very handy for that.

    • flosserelli

      Nope. The dedicated menu button on my Note 2 is quite handy for that.

      • impulse101

        Or you can add a softkey menu button with any AOSP ROM instead of having useless capactive buttons which just add size to your bezel and creates riduculous issues with the menu button showing up on screen.

        • Liam Higgins

          can't change it once you have bought a phone....

          • Squiddles

            I want to say he's saying you can enable the software keys [like with the Nexus line] and add a menu key to the black bar.

          • blueseeker

            Why waste the space?

          • Squiddles

            Say you've got a bad physical button on your phone. It's what I'd do while I wait for another phone I like to come along. Then there's always preference.

        • Paul

          And another toon thinking his opinion is the only that's right...

          For example, i like physical/capacitive buttons. Why waste screen estate?
          Others like on-screen-buttons. Everyone likes something, doesn't mean any solution is useless.

          • Simon Liu

            It's not a waste. Devices with navigation bars enabled have 16:10 displays. You get buttons on the bottom and still get a usable 16:9 space with the option to go full screen and hide the buttons. The main benefit of soft keys are that they can change.

        • Simon Liu

          Don't even need an aosp rom. It can be done by adding 1 line to your build.prop

      • Simon Liu

        Samsung sure likes that menu button. I'm used to it now after having touch wiz for a while, but why does there need to be menus with so many items I have to scroll?

        I'd much prefer a navigation bar, so the space could be used for full screen apps.

    • http://twitter.com/AirRonan1 AirRonan

      as Steve answered I'm alarmed that a mom can earn $9994 in four weeks on the cnetwork.

    • http://twitter.com/AirRonan1 AirRonan

      ...---goo.gl/0gScz (Home more information)

    • Omar Al Matar

      I know right? It should appear on scroll-down, Just like in G+ app o_o

  • Russell Waterson

    Maybe they are doing some sort of "Search with Camera" overhaul. Whereby implementing a similar feature that is being used in the Google+ photo search visual recognition.
    Maybe you'll be able to point your camera at anything and Google will be able to tell you what it is.

    • Don

      I agree. If you look at ted.com and search microsoft, you will see this interesting video about photosynth and the direction they will be going with media. I'm sure google wants to come with something similar w/ their phones.

  • IrishSid


  • andy_o

    What is not working for me is the packages card. What criteria does the email have to meet? I have a shopping email account from where I forward the emails which contain the tracking numbers intact, to my main account (which is linked to Google Now). Doesn't work for UPS or FedEx. I've also received tracking numbers directly to my main gmail account, and nothing. I've never seen a package card.

  • RitishOemraw

    They saw that it made Goggles useless.....
    So the natural thing to do was to remove goggles alltogether....but then another Google service would get 'spring cleaned'
    The media and anti-google folk would have a fieldday with all these services being stopped.....instead they removed the feature only to bring it back later (bigger and better) and tell everyone how it is the MERGED app and as such goggles is not being shut down...but merged.....sounds better right? Well at least it sounds less awful for haters to abuse!

    • Gav456

      I, for one, hope you're right. One unified search app that scans barcodes, tells you a when you point your camera at a dog that it is a dog, searches for apps, contacts, files on your phone, General googling and automatically tells you how long it's gonna take to get home... sounds good - better service, fewer apps. Yay Google!

      • RitishOemraw

        yeh, I noticed the missing search from camera option the first day...because when I wanted to scan a QR code...I actaully had to look for goggles in my app drawer....unlike before where I could just swipe up for google NoW

    • http://twitter.com/sianhulo Simon Hurtado

      the problem being that goggles is compatible with more devices due to the 4.1+ restriction of google now

      • RitishOemraw

        I forgot about that.. thanks for reminding me

  • br_hermon

    If I had to guess, and this may be far fetched, maybe it's to force users to search Google+ for images instead? It's not the place I would think, but they are pushing the new G+ photos feature. At the very least I think this issue is tied to G+ photos and photos in general some way.

  • nsnsmj

    I noticed this a few days ago. Aside from removing this, they've simplified the fuck outta the settings and options for the cards and notifications. Though that was done a while ago. I don't have as much control over when things pop-up or appear anymore. What bothers me the most, though, is that all those options are still in the iOS version.

  • Bobby Phoenix

    Because they have an app that does that. Google Goggles.

    • zeokila

      An outdated one yes, one I doubt will be further updated, I think they're planning on moving all Goggles functionalities to G. Now.

      • Bobby Phoenix

        Outdated? The last update was May 16, 2013. Six days ago. That is outdated?

        • ReturnOfTheMack

          Yes, outdated in design. He wasn't talking about minor bugfixing updates.

  • Feras Arabiat

    They did remove it and it's strange but when I took a photograph of something it showed a notification with the search results for the item I photographed.

    Never done this before, not sure if it was done by Google now or Google goggles.

  • John O’Connor

    Hopefully goggles will be integrated without a separate app. it can be quite cumbersome. I forsee knowledge graph passively analyzing photos taken and scanning for relevant data and correlations, hence Google's new smart(er) search that can recognize contextual speech and landmarks/locations.

    Late last night, my phone asked me if I wanted to add a bunch of pictures I took during my time in San Fran (Sorry {cough} THE CITY {hurl} ) I opted out of "Party Mode" during I/O in the off chance that pictures I took may be either inapplicable or inappropriate for share imagery. Fortunately there was nothing inappropriate, but I would like to see further integration and a definitive place for image search capabilities to make the transition seamless be it actual images, qr codes or any other conceivable thing we encounter on a daily basis.

  • Serge

    The documentation for voice actions still lists "Scan a barcode" https://support.google.com/nexus/4/answer/2842392?hl=en

  • Andrew Vera

    i sent this tip in like last week to ap haha glad it got some explanation

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/ron-amadeo/ Ron Amadeo

      I emailed press@google and waited, and waited, and waited, and got tired of waiting. =P

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=742224220 Dan Marshall

    I could have sworn I was going crazy, tried scanning a QR code the other day and it wasn't there, now I need to find a decent QR app!

    • http://twitter.com/jusuchin85 Justin Alex

      How about Goggles?

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=742224220 Dan Marshall

        That's the plan, for some reason i thought it was removed when they integrated it into GNow

        • http://twitter.com/jusuchin85 Justin Alex

          Well, it is still up and running in the Play store. Until they find a better way to integrate Goggles with Now, I believe that they would not remove Goggles just yet... ;)

  • tym0

    Oh I thought something was missing in my new rom, that make more sense.

  • zebra

    They also made it so you can't long press on a suggestion to add to your search anymore

  • Michał Krzysztof Feiler

    Well, if there is a file containing true/false, from which there is screenshot here, then why can't we just edit it and bring the SearchWithCamera back???

  • B-dog

    Stop your bickering. Stay on topic Samsung is awesome. The subject is about Google removing the search by camera function in Google now

  • Joseph

    The old feature worked really good but it seems as if it was too good so they created a nerfed app called "Google googles" that doesn't find much. I don't understand.