Google's upcoming Lens feature could arrive sooner rather than later following a report from one Reddit user, who claims to have seen the feature hit their first-generation Google Pixel. The user took to Reddit to show off some images of Google Lens in Google Assistant and said they are running Android 8.1 Beta. It isn't immediately clear whether this indicates a wider rollout or a test one, meant for beta only, but the fact that DHatch207 was on the latest unfinished build of the OS seems to suggest this is more of an experimental run of Lens than a global release.
Meanwhile, the Redditor in question has indicated that the camera didn't need to be opened and no photos needed to be taken in order for the feature to work. As shown in their first screenshot seen below, a Google Lens icon appears in the lower right-hand portion of the screen – balancing out the keyboard icon on the leftmost side while the mic shortcut resides at the center, at the bottom of the user interface. A tap on that element brings up a dedicated viewfinder for Google Lens. Other users in the comments on the Reddit thread have also indicated that the feature has shown up in Google Photos for the original Pixel devices. Likewise, a number of users said that Google Lens is appearing on their second-generation Pixel devices and a single source claimed that Lens has hit their device but that they aren't even on any beta channels, though there have been no screenshots provided to back up that claim.
For those who may not remember, Google Lens is an AI-driven search tool that uses machine vision and other machine learning algorithms to search either for objects and text on the screen or for objects and text within the camera's viewfinder. It ties directly into the Google Assistant and should make finding specific things much easier, if not faster. As mentioned above, the original poster on Reddit is the only user to have provided any evidence to back up their claims, so it may be best to view the news with some skepticism. However, even if those other users' claims are inaccurate, the appearance of Google Lens on a first-generation Pixel device currently running Android 8.1 beta does seem to suggest that the feature is nearing completion.