How to (almost) bring Circle to Search to iPhone

One of the more interesting and useful AI features recently introduced on Google and Samsung phones is circle search: you just circle something on the screen (or click on it, or doodle on it), and you You will get matching Google results. It's great for getting details about a landmark or finding shopping links for items that interest you.

The underlying technology is actually based on Google Lens - Circle to Search just makes it easier to access from any app or website you're looking at - and because of that, you can replicate the functionality on your iPhone (more or less ).

This is all possible through an iOS shortcut developed by Google Lens design manager Minsang Choi. It replicates much of the functionality of Circle Search, except instead of actual circles (or clicking or scribbling), you take a screenshot to activate a visual search in Google Lens.

Set up Circle for search on iOS

First, you need to install the Google app for iOS if you haven't already. This will bring a variety of Google tools to your iPhone, including the standard search engine, the Linked Discover page, the Gemini AI bot, and, relevant to what we're trying to do here, the Google Lens search feature.

Next, open a web browser on your iPhone and grab the "Search Screenshot" shortcut (just tap "Get Shortcut "). If you're not familiar with shortcuts, they're automated routines you can perform on your Apple devices, and we've written before about how much time they can save you (and how you can do more with them).

When the Shortcuts app opens, tap Add Shortcut to confirm the action. This will add the new Search Screenshot routine to the Shortcuts tab in the Shortcuts app, if you want to see what it does (and even add some of your own) then You can click on the three dots on the shortcut thumbnail itself.

All that's left is to choose a way to launch the shortcut. If you have an iPhone 15 Pro or iPhone 15 Pro Max, you can use the new action button (which mutes and unmutes the phone by default): From iOS Settings, select the action button and swipe left to go to Shortcuts , and then select Select shortcut .

Alternatively, you can use double- or triple-tap on the back of your iPhone, and these gestures can be set up as part of iOS accessibility settings. Open Settings, then select Accessibility , Touch , and Return to click : You can select Double-click or Triple-click , then select Search for screenshots .

Once you've done this, you can launch Circle to Search for iPhone (sort of). Hold down the Action button, or double- or triple-tap the back of your iPhone to take a screenshot of anything on the screen and send it directly to Google Lens (the first time you do this, tap "Always Allow" to confirm) Sharing between apps is no problem).

Google Lens runs a visual search on Google based on the content in the screenshot. It may have selected the part of the image it thinks is most relevant, but you can adjust that using the four white corner handles. You'll see the results below, along with text boxes to add to your search (for example, you might want to ask where a specific place is, or what other foods pair well with the food in the image).