A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Google Goggles is essentially a visual web search engine. Using their device's camera or an image from their device, users search for a successful match on the web. Parents will want to talk with kids about issues concerning photographing or sharing private information with this app (pictures of credit cards, personal contact info, etc.) Continuous mode uses a lot of mobile data, and the app warns users to "ensure you have a sufficient data plan" before using. Successful searches link to the web, and results can be cloud shared, emailed, or shared via Facebook.
What's it about?
Camera mode allows users to take individual pictures (or select from device gallery), while continuous mode scans constantly picking up distinct images when it identifies them. These images are saved to history, and a simple tap performs a full Google web search with the normal menu items: web, images, places, news, maps, videos. Images can also be cloud shared. While the app supports text-to-speech accessibility, only navigation is spoken, not the content of results.
Is it any good?
Google Goggles is strong with items like logos, UPC codes, book titles, landmarks, maps, business cards, and products in general -- basically easily recognizable stuff with a strong web presence -- but it's not all-encompassing quite yet, since general views, products or companies with a smaller web presence, landscapes, animals, food, and plants bring up images with a similar graphic composition but not necessarily a direct connection. Some really useful applications are product (and price) research while shopping, scanning in contact info from business cards, and nearly hands-free searching -- for landmarks while on a family road trip, for example.
While it's quite easy to use, and the Tips & Tricks page gives a simple, icon-driven list of "app-effective" items, the app lacks any kind of general orientation or explanation of what it does. Of course, users can find a video online at the Google Mobile page, and after a few tries, it'll be obvious to most users. The translation feature integrates Google's superb web-based translation website, but the app seems to struggle with categorizing text as text, so the translate button does not come up every time text is scanned.
Talk to your kids about ...
Start an open dialogue with your teen that emphasizes web safety and privacy.
Read Safe Online Searching and Teach Your Kids the Secrets of Smart Web Searching.
Conduct searches together and get excited about the fantastic resources you find.
- Device: Android
- Subjects: Social Studies: exploration
Arts: painting, photography, sculpture
- Skills: Communication: asking questions, conveying messages effectively
Tech Skills: evaluating media messages, using and applying technology
- Price: Free
- Pricing structure: Free
- Release date: August 22, 2012
- Category: Productivity
- Size: 3.00 MB
- Publisher: Google
- Version: 1.9
- Minimum software requirements: Android 2.2 and up
- Last updated: November 11, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.