A new iPhone shortcut replicates Android’s best new feature

Illustration by Samar Haddad / The Verge

One of Android’s best new features, Circle to Search, is unfortunately not available to iPhone users. But Google is throwing Apple fans a bone with a solution that essentially replicates the function.

Google’s design manager for Google Lens, Minsang Choi, shared a new iOS shortcut in a post on X that’s designed to leverage the Action button on iPhone 15 Pro devices. When activated, the shortcut takes a screenshot of whatever you’re looking at and immediately funnels it into the Google app and runs a Lens scan. “It’s basically Circle to Search, but faster,” Choi exclaims.

GIF: Umar Shakir / The Verge
The Google app shortcut in action.

Over on 9to5Mac, author Abner Li discovered that the shortcut can also be used by iPhones that support the Back Tap. The accessibility feature lets you double-tap or triple-tap the rear of your iPhone and activate system functions like Magnifier, turn on the Flashlight, or in this case, run an iOS shortcut.

If you’d like to try the new Circle to Search-ish feature using Back Tap, first confirm you have an iPhone 6S or newer running the latest iOS, then:

Install the Google app on your iPhone if you haven’t already.
Install this Google app shortcut for iOS.
Go to Settings > Accessibility > and under the Physical and Motor section select Touch.
Scroll to the bottom of the Touch menu and select Back Tap.
Choose either Double Tap or Triple Tap (Double Tap is easier to activate but is also more prone to unintended triggers).
Scroll down to the Shortcuts section, and select “Search your screenshot.”

Now when you’re browsing around on your phone, you can just tap the back of your phone and the shortcut will automatically take a screenshot and run a Google Lens scan. It’s not precise like on Android where you just circle what you want, but it works!

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