Why is Google bringing ‘Circle to Search’ to Android smartphones?

  • Circle to Search is a new way to search for anything on an Android phone without switching apps.
  • Circle to Search debuts on January 31 on specific premium Android phones.
  • You can get it on the Pixel 8, Pixel 8 Pro, and the new Samsung Galaxy S24 series.

This week, Google ushered in a new era with the introduction of ‘Circle to Search,’ a gesture-based feature for Android smartphones. This functionality lets users effortlessly search for information within any app on their phones using intuitive gestures such as circling, highlighting, scribbling, or tapping. Google aims to enhance the naturalness and accessibility of search, starting with selected premium Android smartphones first.

To recall, when Google started venturing beyond traditional text-based searches, the tech giant allowed users to audibly pose questions, discover song titles through humming, and delve into the visual realm with Lens. Simply put, with each technological breakthrough, Google has drawn nearer to its aspiration of letting users to search effortlessly, adapting to their preferences regardless of the context. 

“Today, we’re sharing our latest step toward that goal: Circle to Search,” Google said in a blog posting on January 17. While Circle to Search is launching on January 31, it will initially only be available on selected premium Android smartphones, including the Pixel 8, Pixel 8 Pro, and the new Samsung Galaxy S24 series — in all languages and locations where they’re available.

How will Circle to Search work on Android?

Think of your phone as a gateway to endless information – whether pursuing a passion, solving a problem, shopping, learning, or just seeking a moment of joy. When you’re deeply engrossed in exploring something, it can be inconvenient to interrupt the flow by switching between apps to gather more information.

Circle to Search can help you quickly identify items in a photo or video. Relevant ads will continue to appear in dedicated slots throughout the page. Source: Google

Circle to Search can help you quickly identify items in a photo or video. Relevant ads will continue to appear in dedicated slots throughout the page. Source: Google

That’s where Circle to Search by Google comes in. Now, with a simple gesture like circling, highlighting, scribbling, or tapping, users can select what interests them and instantly get more information without switching apps.

“For example, maybe you need help identifying a few items a creator wore in their ‘Outfit of the Day’ video, but they didn’t tag the brands. Just long-press the home button or navigation bar on your Android phone to activate Circle to Search. From there, you can select any item you see with your preferred gesture — like circling their sunglasses — to quickly find similar, shoppable options from retailers across the web. You could scribble the bag and tap on the boots to look those up, too — all without leaving where you are. When you’re done, swipe away, and you’re right back where you started,” Google noted.

That said, with multi-search and Google’s latest AI enhancements, searching with both text and images simultaneously, you can effortlessly grasp concepts, ideas, or topics by accessing informative content gathered from the web. 

“Simply circle the corn dog and ask a question, like “Why are these so popular?” You’ll quickly learn that these sweet and savory treats are Korean corn dogs. And they’re trending because of their unique combination of flavors and textures — including meat or gooey melted cheese surrounded by a crunchy exterior — and the growing popularity of Korean cuisine,” it added.

Even on YouTube, the Circle to Search feature would work, and according to the search engine behemoth, relevant ads will continue to appear in dedicated slots throughout the search page.