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Galaxy S24’s most amazing AI feature could come to the iPhone soon – if Apple allows it

Published Jan 18th, 2024 7:24AM EST
Using Google's Circle to Search AI feature on the Galaxy S24 Ultra.
Image: Samsung

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Yesterday, Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S24 lineup, focusing on AI features. Although the South Korean company is the one to be praised, several functions rely on Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 and Google’s software capabilities introduced during last year’s Google Pixel 8 event.

One of the most exciting features highlighted during the keynote, Circle to Search, probably made a ton of iPhone users wish for this function to arrive on Apple devices as soon as possible. Even though Google doesn’t mention iPhone users, the company told my colleague Chris Smith that it plans to add Circle to Search to more devices so more users can take advantage of it. Currently, only Galaxy S24 and Google Pixel 8 users can enjoy this function.

But if Google wants to expand Circle to Search for more users – and it has told Smith that hardware-wise, it doesn’t require high specs – it’s possible that this AI feature could come sooner than we think to the iPhone. Here’s why it could land soon or maybe never at all.

What’s the Circle to Search feature, and why should you care

Circle to Search in action on the Galaxy S24 Ultra.
Circle to Search in action on the Galaxy S24 Ultra. Image source: Google

Circle to Search lets you search for anything without leaving the app you’re in. Whether you see something on the web, in a clip, or in real life, you can just use the gesture to perform a Google Search. It’s not just the circle movement that will bring up results. You can highlight, scribble, and tap. Google will know what section of the image to extract to perform a search. 

Before doing all that, you’ll have to hold your finger briefly on the bottom of the screen. That’s the gesture the phone looks for to initiate a visual Google Search.

Circle to Search can help you get information about local foods when traveling. Or it can help you find specific clothing items you might see online. Maybe you have questions about what you see around you. Just point your camera, and Google Search should provide answers. 

The AI feature also supports multimodal input. You can Circle to Search for something and ask a question at the same time, for example.

How Google could implement the Circle to Search feature on iPhone so you don’t need to buy a Galaxy S24

Siri on the Vision Pro headset. Apple GPT
Siri on the Vision Pro headset. Image source: Apple Inc.

As you can see, this Galaxy S24 AI feature is amazing, but it requires a level of access to your phone that I don’t think Apple would be comfortable to give to Google. One of the possibilities could be Cupertino implementing this kind of function with Siri, as you’d evoke the personal assistant before selecting what you want to search.

If Google would implement this function for its iOS counterpart, it would probably be inside the Google app, which means you would need to be on the app to use the Circle to Search feature. Still, users would need to allow it.

That said, I’m not sure Apple allows this kind of integration to third-party apps and what the requirements (from Apple’s side) would be for Google to implement this AI feature for iPhone users.

Wrap up

With that in mind, if you can’t wait to try the latest Galaxy AI features, you’ll probably need to buy a Galaxy S24 or Google Pixel 8. With iOS 18, at least, Apple will possibly surprise us with several AI features, but there’s a long way before we can try them out.

José Adorno Tech News Reporter

José is a Tech News Reporter at BGR. He has previously covered Apple and iPhone news for 9to5Mac, and was a producer and web editor for Latin America broadcaster TV Globo. He is based out of Brazil.

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