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Lookout for Android adds enhanced scanning for food labels, documents

As we use our smartphones for more and more, the ability to grab detailed information and make informed decisions based upon the world around us is more important than ever. The latest attempt by Google to enhance this is by updating Lookout, which is a lesser-known application designed to help “pull” information from things such as food labels, documents, and more.

Lookout may seem familiar, as Google Lens and the Google Camera have clearly swiped similar features in the past. However, this standalone application leverages the power of Google image post-processing to provide yet another exceptional accessibility feature for Android users with visual impairments. Having been available for some time already, it is now getting some important usability updates and enhancements.

From today you will gain access to two brand-new features: Food Label and Scan Document. The new Food Label mode will let you scan food packaging by pointing your smartphone’s camera at the label.

Lookout gives audio and visual cues to help you accurately find the barcode to correctly — and accurately — detect the packaging. Google hopes that this will make Lookout a go-to option for those with visual impairments when heading to the grocery store.

Lookout now has two new modes: Food Label and Scan Document. With Food Label, you can quickly
identify packaged foods by pointing your phone’s camera at the label. Lookout will guide you to position the food product so that it can be properly identified through its packaging or barcode.

This can be particularly helpful if you’re putting away groceries and want to make sure you’re handling the right items that might feel the same to your touch. For example, Food Label would be able to distinguish between a can of corn and a can of green beans.

The Scan Document feature will make it even easier to go through letters, mail, and other important documents. Lookout can take a screenshot of any document you have and then pull the content in detail before reading aloud — if needed.

This takes the document scanning features found in Google Camera and other applications and takes it a step further, especially as Lookout is aimed at device accessibility rather than just pure captures.

The application has also had some important updates after Google sought feedback from the blind and partially sighted communities. This includes a slight refresh of the UI to make the experience more easily accessible alongside yet more integration with TalkBack. Some of these changes include a larger camera view, for easier subject framing. Navigating between modes within Lookout is also much easier than previously, with a new scroll interface for mode selection.

Lookout will now be available to all Android devices with more than 2GB of RAM running Android 6.0 or higher. The application is supported in the following languages: English, French, Italian, German, and Spanish.

You can download the latest update for Lookout over on the Google Play Store.

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Avatar for Damien Wilde Damien Wilde

Damien is a UK-based video producer for 9to5Google. Find him on Twitter @iamdamienwilde. Email

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