Gboard – Google’s keyboard app for smartphones – is introducing a useful new feature that will make it easier for you to insert text using your smartphone’s camera. The latest version of the keyboard app adds support for a new “Text Scan” mode that uses optical character recognition (OCR) technology to recognize text and enter it into a text field. A similar scan and insert text feature is also available on iPhone models running iOS 15.4 or later.

An image of the feature shared on X (formerly Twitter) by Mishaal Rahman shows how the new Gboard feature works. Using your smartphone’s rear camera, Google’s keyboard app will let you take an image of text — it could be a document, a screen, or an object with words on it — and then use OCR technology to extract the text and insert it in your current application.

For the feature to work, you’ll need to update the Gboard app on your Android phone to version 13.9, which is currently in beta. According to Rahman, users have claimed that the feature is already rolling out, but the Gadgets 360 staff hasn’t been able to test the feature on multiple Android smartphones — so you may have to wait until it’s officially announced by the company.

When Scan text is available on your smartphone, it should be listed along with other features like Translate, Sticker, One handedand Topic. The keyboard will prompt you to grant it access to the camera permission, then you can start using the feature.

You can point your phone’s camera at some text and tap the capture button once it’s in the half-screen viewfinder. You can then select the OCR-recognized text and insert it into your current application — this image is deleted once the text is inserted. You can also move it to the toolbar that appears at the top of the keyboard if you plan to use it often.

The feature’s arrival on Android comes two years after Apple introduced a similar feature in iOS 15.4, allowing users to point their phone at text to add it to the Notes app and text fields in other apps. It allows users to automatically select text using their iPhone’s camera — without capturing an image — and displays the text to be inserted as it updates in real-time.

If the feature isn’t already enabled on your smartphone, you can also open the Google Lens app and point your camera at text to extract text, copy it, and paste it into another app. Adding the feature to Gboard will simplify this process by eliminating the need to open the Lens app.

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