Circle to Search is now available on the Google Pixel 8. Here's how to use it

Google's AI-powered search feature that debuted on the Galaxy S24 is hitting Pixel devices now.
Written by Artie Beaty, Contributing Writer
Circle to Search: Pixel 8 Pro
Artie Beaty/ZDNET

When the Galaxy S24 launched, it came with what one ZDNET editor called the most "You're watching Disney channel" feature ever: Circle to Search.

The feature is similar to Google Lens, but instead of taking a screenshot or photo over to another app to learn more, it allows users to do a Google search for any image or text by simply highlighting, circling, or scribbling over it (or by drawing Mickey Mouse ears if you're so inclined). 

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Google's AI will then analyze what you circled. If it's an image, it will search for it and display similar results. If it's text, Search will analyze the text and either provide search results or provide an answer.

While the feature was exclusive to Samsung's new flagship phones at first, Google users can now get in on the fun. Starting yesterday, Circle to Search is available on the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro

Perhaps the biggest advantage this feature has over using Google Lens is that it pops up in an overlay that lets you swipe it away when you're done -- without navigating away from your original app. Plus, sometimes Google Lens focuses on the wrong thing in a screenshot or photo, meaning you have to take a very tight crop to search for exactly what you want. 

To activate Circle to Search on your Pixel phone, just long-press the home button or navigation bar. The app you're using will pause and an overlay will pop up. From there, circle the image or text you want to search and Google will work its magic. When the results are displayed, you can add context or ask a specific question. 

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For example, if you searched to find a museum that an influencer was standing in front of, you could then add "How much are tickets?" Or, if your search yielded a specific plant, you could add "Is this plant poisonous to dogs?"

Since this feature runs on the newest Tensor chip, it means that not only will Pixel 7 and earlier users be out of luck, so will Pixel Fold users.

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