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Circle to Search just got AI translation support and expanded to more phones

Published Mar 28th, 2024 12:12PM EDT
Using Google's Circle to Search AI feature on the Galaxy S24 Ultra.
Image: Samsung

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When Google announced the Circle to Search feature for the Galaxy S24 and Pixel 8 in January, I asked whether the iPhone would get it. Circle to Search is easily the most exciting AI feature of Samsung’s Galaxy AI suite. It lets you circle something on the screen to perform a Google Search for whatever object or text you circled. 

Google said at the time that only the Galaxy S24 and Pixel 8 phones would support the feature initially, and that other smartphones would get it down the line.

Fast-forward to March, and we have a few big developments for Circle to Search. Earlier this month, Google expanded the feature to the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro. Samsung announced that various 2023 Galaxy flagship devices would get Circle to Search in the US this week, including the Galaxy S23 series. 

Now, Google on Wednesday quietly confirmed that Circle to Search is coming to more of its Pixel phones, including the Pixel 6 series and the Pixel 7a. It gets even better than that, as Google is bringing AI-powered translation support to Circle to Search.

Google announced new tools to help with summer travel, including new Google Maps, Search, and Shopping features. That’s where it mentioned the new translation functionality for Circle to Search and the expanded support for Pixel devices.

As someone who uses Google Translate’s camera for translation purposes, I’m already a big fan of the newly announced translation feature. That’s because Circle to Search can translate the foreign language on the screen. This removes the need for a different app to translate text in a photo or screenshot. 

You won’t have to perform a circle-to-search gesture to perform the translation. Instead, you’ll long-press on the home button or navigation bar. Then, you’ll tap the new translate icon that appears in the bottom right corner.

Circle to Search will translate everything on the screen.
Circle to Search will translate everything on the screen. Image source: Google

Google said translations will be available to supported devices in Circle to Search in the coming weeks. That’s where it quietly dropped the announcement that owners of older Pixel phones might have been waiting for. Here’s what the footnote in Google’s travel-centric blog says: 

Circle to Search is available on Samsung Galaxy S24 series, Pixel 7, Pixel 7 Pro, Pixel 8, Pixel 8 Pro, and is currently rolling out to more Android devices, including Pixel 6, Pixel 6 Pro, Pixel 6a, Pixel 7a and Samsung Galaxy S23 series, S23 FE, Z Fold5, Z Flip5, and Tab S9 series. Circle to Search is coming soon to more Android devices, including Pixel Fold and Pixel Tablet.

It gets even better, as Google will roll out Circle to Search support for the Pixel Fold and Pixel Tablet in the future. 

As an iPhone user, I’m still excluded from the Circle to Search rollout. But I’m excited about rumors that Apple and Google are negotiating Gemini AI support for the iOS 18 update that will hit iPhones this fall. That’s not a guarantee that Circle to Search will be part of the package. But such a deal might motivate Google to make Circle to Search available on iPhone, at least via the Google app. 

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.