Google announced plenty of new products and features at its Made by Google event this week, and one of the more useful releases is already available.
The Magnifier app, which the company says lets users “magnify small text, see object details, or zoom in on faraway text like street signs or restaurant menus behind a service counter” will be included on the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro when they officially hit the streets next week, but it’s available to download on Pixel phones now (the 5 or later).
Magnifier functions much like a camera app in that there’s a capture button in the middle, a toggle button to switch between front and rear cameras, zoom in and out buttons – pinching also works – and a button to turn on the flashlight (side note, it has a brightness slider, something my native flashlight doesn’t have and I didn’t even know my phone could do).
But it’s a vast improvement over just using your phone to zoom in.
Once an image is captured, the contrast is immediately enhanced to make text pop. There are sliders for brightness and contrast if you want to adjust further, plus filters to apply like inverted, grayscale, blue on white, red on black, and yellow on white — all useful for colorblindness.
There’s also a Google Lens button that offers up translation, text-to-speech, search, shopping, or copy and paste.
Just using the app while sitting on my couch, I was able to read a code on an Amazon box sitting across the room and a piece of Halloween decor sitting below my TV when I couldn’t read either before. While those admittedly aren’t super useful cases, it’s easy to see how this could be very beneficial reading a far away menu board, a street sign, or say, small words on a pill bottle, for example.
Images taken on the Magnifier app aren’t saved automatically, but they can be if you want to reference them later.
There’s no indication if the magnifier app will be brought to a larger Android audience or if it will remain a Pixel exclusive, but the app is available in the Google Play store.