How To Use Pinterest’s New Feature Perfectly As A Visual Search Engine

Pinterest started revealing the beta version of Lens, its new featured that distinguishes objects you see in regular day to day existence.

The new addition to the app lets you use your camera to identify decor, clothing, and food you see in the real world. By pointing your camera at a pair of shoes, for instance, you’ll be able to see similar styles on Pinterest and get ideas for how to wear them.

Lens is still in beta, but I got invited to test it out, probably because I’m an avid Pinterest user (I open the app at least once every day and probably spend more than 30 minutes a day using it).

It’s important to note that because Lens is still in beta, the technology isn’t perfect yet, but here’s how it works so far.

First, open up the Pinterest app and look for the spyglass button at the bottom of the screen. This has always been there, but Lens is now hidden inside.

First, open up the Pinterest app and look for the spyglass button at the bottom of the screen. This has always been there, but Lens is now hidden inside.First, open up the Pinterest app and look for the spyglass button at the bottom of the screen. This has always been there, but Lens is now hidden inside.

The search page should look the same, except for the addition of a red camera button at the upper right-hand side. This is Lens.

The search page should look the same, except for the addition of a red camera button at the upper right-hand side. This is Lens.The search page should look the same, except for the addition of a red camera button at the upper right-hand side. This is Lens.

When you click the camera button, you’ll be taken to this screen. Lens will politely introduce itself.

When you click the camera button, you'll be taken to this screen. Lens will politely introduce itself.When you click the camera button, you’ll be taken to this screen. Lens will politely introduce itself.

You’ll have to give Lens permission to use your camera and access your photos.

You'll have to give Lens permission to use your camera and access your photos.You’ll have to give Lens permission to use your camera and access your photos.

The Lens is always a large circle in the middle of your screen, which helps you zero in on the thing you want to look up. To take a photo, just tap in the middle of the circle.

The Lens is always a large circle in the middle of your screen, which helps you zero in on the thing you want to look up. To take a photo, just tap in the middle of the circle.The Lens is always a large circle in the middle of your screen, which helps you zero in on the thing you want to look up. To take a photo, just tap in the middle of the circle.

Once you take a photo, the app will start thinking. It uses a technology called machine vision, which is basically Shazam for images. While the app is thinking, colorful little dots will float around.

Once you take a photo, the app will start thinking. It uses a technology called machine vision, which is basically Shazam for images. While the app is thinking, colorful little dots will float around.Once you take a photo, the app will start thinking. It uses a technology called machine vision, which is basically Shazam for images. While the app is thinking, colorful little dots will float around.

After a couple seconds, Pinterest will present you with a few key words it thinks describe your photo and some idea for similar items. The app correctly recognized that this was a ring, but also seemed to think it was an engagement ring (which it’s not). That might be because of the way I was holding my hand, or because the ring was on my left hand.

After a couple seconds, Pinterest will present you with a few key words it thinks describe your photo and some idea for similar items. The app correctly recognized that this was a ring, but also seemed to think it was an engagement ring (which it's not). That might be because of the way I was holding my hand, or because the ring was on my left hand.After a couple seconds, Pinterest will present you with a few key words it thinks describe your photo and some idea for similar items. The app correctly recognized that this was a ring, but also seemed to think it was an engagement ring (which it’s not). That might be because of the way I was holding my hand, or because the ring was on my left hand.

When I took a picture of my colleague’s New Balance sneakers, the app was able to recognize that they were sneakers. But it only showed me Nike or Adidas as brand keywords and showed me only those types of sneakers. If I wanted to see New Balance shoes in other colors or in a women’s style, I was out of luck.

When I took a picture of my colleague's New Balance sneakers, the app was able to recognize that they were sneakers. But it only showed me Nike or Adidas as brand keywords and showed me only those types of sneakers. If I wanted to see New Balance shoes in other colors or in a women's style, I was out of luck.When I took a picture of my colleague’s New Balance sneakers, the app was able to recognize that they were sneakers. But it only showed me Nike or Adidas as brand keywords and showed me only those types of sneakers. If I wanted to see New Balance shoes in other colors or in a women’s style, I was out of luck.

If you scroll down, you can look through photos of similar items in the same format as the rest of Pinterest. The keywords will hover at the top of the page, and you can scroll through those too and click on the one you want, which will change the images below.

If you scroll down, you can look through photos of similar items in the same format as the rest of Pinterest. The keywords will hover at the top of the page, and you can scroll through those too and click on the one you want, which will change the images below.If you scroll down, you can look through photos of similar items in the same format as the rest of Pinterest. The keywords will hover at the top of the page, and you can scroll through those too and click on the one you want, which will change the images below.

You don’t have to snap a new photo if you don’t want to. You can also see some picks from Pinterest by swiping at the bottom of the screen.

You don't have to snap a new photo if you don't want to. You can also see some picks from Pinterest by swiping at the bottom of the screen.You don’t have to snap a new photo if you don’t want to. You can also see some picks from Pinterest by swiping at the bottom of the screen.

Here, you’ll see images ranging from food to fashion to decor. Tapping on one of them will show you similar items.

Here, you'll see images ranging from food to fashion to decor. Tapping on one of them will show you similar items.Here, you’ll see images ranging from food to fashion to decor. Tapping on one of them will show you similar items.

You can also upload images from your camera roll, which is a nice feature. If you’re out in public and see something cool, you may not have time to open your Pinterest app. Luckily, you can snap a quick photo and open it in Lens later.

You can also upload images from your camera roll, which is a nice feature. If you're out in public and see something cool, you may not have time to open your Pinterest app. Luckily, you can snap a quick photo and open it in Lens later.You can also upload images from your camera roll, which is a nice feature. If you’re out in public and see something cool, you may not have time to open your Pinterest app. Luckily, you can snap a quick photo and open it in Lens later.

Because it’s so new, Lens still has some shortcomings. It not only couldn’t recognize that this is a Kate Spade bag, it thought the bag might actually be a sewing machine or a car.

Because it's so new, Lens still has some shortcomings. It not only couldn't recognize that this is a Kate Spade bag, it thought the bag might actually be a sewing machine or a car.Because it’s so new, Lens still has some shortcomings. It not only couldn’t recognize that this is a Kate Spade bag, it thought the bag might actually be a sewing machine or a car.

One thing that did impress me, however, was that Lens pulled up Michael Kors as a brand suggestion, which is a similar style and price point to Kate Spade. The technology was clearly thoughtfully designed and takes into account that a lot of people use Pinterest for fashion ideas and inspiration.

After a couple of tries using the app, I noticed that when you take a picture of an item, a little plus sign appears among the keywords.

After a couple of tries using the app, I noticed that when you take a picture of an item, a little plus sign appears among the keywords.After a couple of tries using the app, I noticed that when you take a picture of an item, a little plus sign appears among the keywords.

By clicking on that, I was able to let the app know what an item was. The technology will get smarter over time, and adding my own suggestions helps it learn.

By clicking on that, I was able to let the app know what an item was. The technology will get smarter over time, and adding my own suggestions helps it learn.
By clicking on that, I was able to let the app know what an item was. The technology will get smarter over time, and adding my own suggestions helps it learn.

As it gets smarter, Lens is only going to be more and more fun to use. By taking a photo of a delicious-looking cupcake, for example, Lens will supply you with recipes for similar cupcakes. If you see a cool pair of boots on the subway, Lens will be able to tell you who made them and how you can wear them.

As it gets smarter, Lens is only going to be more and more fun to use. By taking a photo of a delicious-looking cupcake, for example, Lens will supply you with recipes for similar cupcakes. If you see a cool pair of boots on the subway, Lens will be able to tell you who made them and how you can wear them.
As it gets smarter, Lens is only going to be more and more fun to use. By taking a photo of a delicious-looking cupcake, for example, Lens will supply you with recipes for similar cupcakes. If you see a cool pair of boots on the subway, Lens will be able to tell you who made them and how you can wear them.
Lens is available on both iPhone and Android devices.

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