Thursday, June 16th, 2011 Posted by Jim Thacker

Google launches new ‘Search By Image’ feature

Google has launched a ‘Search By Image’ feature, enabling users to look for pics similar to one they specify. Previously, Google image searches were limited to less intuitive text descriptions.

The process is straightforward – you can either paste an image URL into the search box or upload a file from your hard drive – and the results seem pretty good, at least in our entirely unscientific tests.

Results seem to be chosen on the basis of broad visual similarities, so a photo of the tundra in Iceland brought back a lot of images of cold environments (Poland, Siberia, Mongolia) in similar weather conditions. Adding the word ‘Iceland’ to the search box returned a photo of a glacier a few miles from where the original was taken.

A photo of waves off a beach in Wales didn’t do as well, bringing back a lot of images of mountains, presumably because the strong blue and white tones in the original looked similar to light reflecting off snow.

Still, an interesting tool for gathering photographic reference material – and a great new toy for anyone who habitually uses conventional Google image searches as a way of generating ideas.

Try searching Google by image here