Google Lens has long been a handy tool for things like figuring out what food you want to order or finding out if that plant taking over your backyard is actually a weed. It even added the ability to copy text to a computer earlier this year. Now it's gaining some helpful new capabilities when it comes to homework assistance, just in time for the upcoming school year.
Since many kids in the US will be completing much of their schooling online in the months to come, Google is highlighting this new functionality as a way to provide more helpful hands-on learning. Rather than simply googling a math problem and getting an instant answer, Google Lens can show step-by-step instructions on how that result was achieved. Give a person a fish and they eat for a day; teach a person to fish and yadda yadda. Lens will probably be most beneficial when dealing with questions from areas of math and science, but it can also provide info cards from Google's knowledge graph about other educational areas.
A teardown of the Lens app from May gave us a teaser for these features, but now they're being launched widely. These new capabilities are tied in with Socratic, the homework helper app that Google bought and relaunched earlier this year. In fact, Socratic will offer the same new step-by-step experience that Lens is integrating, although Lens will probably be the faster way to get help if it's baked into your default camera app (or if you have the Lens icon elsewhere). If you're at your wits end trying to figure out what x equals, go ahead and give these new smarts a shot. Lens is available in the Play Store, or directly from APK Mirror, as is Socratic.