Google Goggles comes to the iPhone

Nearly a year after releasing it for Android, Google has launched its visual search app Google Goggles for the iPhone.

Rather than launching it as a standalone app, Google’s incorporated it into a new version of the Google Mobile App. Users can just tap the camera button to search, and the app will analyze the image, highlight any object it recognizes and provide a list of search results about the object or landmark in question.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t yet recognize that many things. For a start, the app clearly suffers from an electronic form of prosopagnosia – the inability to recognise faces – although this just might have more to do with privacy concerns than poor image recognition.

And it has its other blind spots too.

“It works well for things such as landmarks, logos and the covers of books, DVDs and games,” says Milan Broum, a software engineer on the Google Mobile team. “However, it doesn’t yet work for some things you might want to try like animals, plants or food.”

But, as the company reminds us, it’s still a Google labs product, and thus still under development.

Google Goggles will be appearing, free, in App Stores around the world starting from today, although it’s currently only available for English-speaking users.

It requires an autofocusing camera, so only works on the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 running iOS4 or above.