An emerging class of visual search apps are showing promise in replacing traditional search methods — with camera technology that leverages the power of the web to help you identify and learn about your surroundings. The just-released iOS visual search app, CamFind (currently free) nicely marries image analysis features with language translation and voice input/output and is threatening to relegate the practice of text-entry search to the Stone Age where it belongs!
The app runs on the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch with iOS 6.0 or higher. The app boasts a variety of features including universal web search without text entry, related Images, price comparisons, online shopping, related places and address finder, film poster/DVD recognition, and social sharing. It also has a language translator, QR and barcode reader, text search, and voice search. The app’s camera has automatic flash and focus and is fully integrated with Camera Roll.
CamFind’s developer, Image Searcher, claims an accuracy level north of 85 percent, and a less than 15-second response time.
The CamFind interface is intuitive and simple. Its dominant feature is a central button to snap pictures; however CamFind is striving to be a universal search input/output replacement. You can use voice input for searches and have the app read image matches back to you. The app can even translate between languages. I performed several web searching variations, and found the app usually performed better than any other method (Siri included).
Occasionally the results left me scratching my head, but then web searches can be a fickle thing, so I’m not totally blaming the app. A helpful feature of CamFind is that it ties into Yelp, considering local search and location (must allow access to location services in order to work).
SIRI vs. CAMFIND
When performing voice searches, Siri did almost as well when I was very specific in my phrasing, however Siri does not present results as effectively. CamFind displays a results page, which summarizes Yelp findings, web links, videos, and images, each helpfully denoted by a thumbnail image. CamFind made few errors interpreting my voice input.
When you run into Quick Response Codes, scanning is as straightforward as tapping the screen once you have a code centered in the viewfinder. Whatever URL is linked to the code will be presented in the CamFind mobile browser. CamFind also is tuned to find movie information based on film poster or DVD cover imagery.
Saves Search History
The app also keeps a history of your searches so you can quickly go back and return to them. You can also upload pictures from your camera roll or save pictures there. The browser is decent, but you can easily open results in Safari if you want to investigate an item further.
The app only runs in Portrait and is optimized for iPhone 5 (it ran fine on my wife's 4S), which might be a little annoying if you prefer landscape for browsing, however the app works fine when snapping objects in either orientation.
CamFind lives up to its billing in my opinion: a camera-based, text-typing replacement for web searches. The developer claims an accuracy level north of 85 percent, which I could not officially confirm, but had the impression met the intention of my search better than most methods. The app functioned almost flawlessly during my tests. I recommend you grab it while its free!
- Universal web search without text entry;
- Internet Search Results;
- Related/Similar Images;
- Price Comparisons and Online Shopping;
- Related Places and Address Finder;
- Film Poster/DVD Recognition;
- Social Sharing;
- Language Translator;
- QR and Barcode Reader;
- Text Search;
- Voice Search;
- Voiceover of Identified Objects;
- Automatic Flash;
- Automatic Focus;
- Ability to Save Images to the Camera Roll/Upload Images from Camera Roll.
- Portraint only;
- Optimized for iPhone 5 only (not a universal app).