The icon currently used for Google Lens in the company's Photos app could soon be redesigned to feature the search giant's branding. That's based on recent reports citing the appearance of just such a change in version 4.46 of the app. The change applies specifically to the Lens icon found when users click on one of their photos stored in the cloud or via the app.
More directly, that's the dashed square with a dot at the center and another dot in the bottom-right-hand corner. That's found in the second-slot from the right-hand side at the bottom of the page upon clicking on a photo.
The new icon, pictured below, is shown as a complete square comprised of dashed lines. The dot at the bottom-right-hand corner, representing a camera's flash, is replaced by a full corner line. Google has done away with the dot at the center too. In its place, the search giant has placed its own "G" branding.
This is the second Google rebrand but the first didn't go so well
As of this writing, the newly rebranded Lens icon in Google Photos is only appearing in a single version. It's also only appearing for some users. So it appears as though it is only being tested rather than widely rolled out. It also isn't immediately clear whether the black and white coloration will remain or if Google will add some color.
There's also no guarantee the change will roll out widely at all. That's because this is actually the second rebranding attempt made by Google within the past week or so. The other change added Google branding to the company's Gboard keyboard.
While adding some brand elements to an app is to be expected, Google's decision and execution were largely decried. One plausible reason for that, aside from the logo adding unnecessary extra UI, is that other related apps don't keep the branding around if the keyboard theme is changed.
For instance, SwiftKey is another hugely popular keyboard app. Its default theme showcases its branding prominently. But upon changing the theme, that disappears. Google's branding sticks around through theme changes.
Regardless of the reason, Google's first branding change didn't stick around for long. The added branding was summarily removed via a rollback.
It isn't out of the question that the A/B testing being performed here will end in a similar result. Users generally dislike change, to begin with. Beyond the addition of unnecessary elements, these types of changes also present a usability issue. In this case, users may have a more difficult time locating the lens feature — especially if they've become accustomed to the old logo.
There are some similarities between the icons but the new one is just different enough that it could cause contention from users.
The testing status of the Google Lens icon doesn't mean this is coming soon
If users do react positively to the change, there's still a small chance Google won't rebrand the Lens icon in Google Photos. The purpose of testing is generally to determine whether any functionality problems will arise. That's not the case here since it is simply a logo change rather than a feature change. But the design will still need to be signed off on.
If the new logo does make its way to a final version of the Google Photos app, the company may ultimately stall release, if it does release, anyway. Feature consistency across apps is important and the Lens feature is not just found in Photos. It's also present in the Google Assistant and elsewhere in various apps.
In fact, various OEMs include Lens as part of the primary camera as well. For the sake of consistency, Google will likely try to apply the change across all of those locations at once.
All of those things will likely keep this from being released in the near future if it does at all.