Google's Goggles application for Android and the iPhone has gained new capabilities in its latest iteration, including the ability to recognise print advertisements and provide the solutions to Sudoku puzzles.
Goggles is the company's camera-based mobile client for, among other things, reading barcodes and showing the user online price comparisons for the relevant product — indeed, version 1.3, released on Monday, also speeds this process up for Android users — but other features of the new version provide greater interactivity with newspapers and magazines.
In a blog post on Monday, Google software engineers Leon Palm and Jiayong Zhang said the company was "excited to take another step in [its] vision of connecting offline media to online media".
"The next time you're flipping through the pages of your favourite magazine, try taking a picture of an ad with Goggles," the engineers wrote. "Goggles will recognize print ad and return web search results about the product or brand. This new feature of Goggles is enabled for print ads appearing in major US magazines and newspapers from August 2010 onwards."
The ad-reading feature represents an expansion of a marketing experiment that Google launched in November, Palm and Jiayong wrote, recognising a broader range of advertisements and returning web search results, rather than just links to the advertiser's website.
The application now also solves Sudoku, a popular newspaper and magazine mainstay. "Goggles on Android and iPhone can recognize puzzles and provide answers to help make you faster than a Sudoku champ," the engineers wrote. "So if you ever get stuck, take a clear picture of the entire puzzle with Goggles and we'll tell you the correct solution."
Version 1.3 of Google Goggles for Android now offers a streamlined barcode recognition process, they added, noting that it now recognises the codes without user prompting.