Google announces Google Lens city walking tours – here's how to sign up

Perhaps sensing our nationwide itch to do some urban exploration again, Google has announced three real-world walking tours to celebrate the arrival of a new Google Lens filter.

The three free tours, which will take place in Bristol, Liverpool and London next week, will be hosted by some eminent guides, who'll take you to some points of interest that'll no doubt be custom-made for the Google Lens 'Places' filter.

If you're not familiar with Google Lens, it's an image recognition tool that lets you 'search' real world objects and landmarks using your phone's camera. The new 'Places' filter has been gradually appearing on more phones since last year, but is now getting an official global rollout.

So when and where are these 'Behind the Lens with Google Pixel' tours? On June 14 in Bristol, TV gardening duo The Rich Brothers (of 'Garden Rescue' fame) will be guiding followers around the city's horticultural gems – and no doubt encouraging you to identify a Poison Hemlock with your phone.

Over in Liverpool on June 16, the chef and broadcaster Andi Oliver will be on hand to take you around the city's culinary delights, and perhaps introduce you to some hidden gems to book this summer.

And for the final 'rediscovery tour' on June 23, the French-born maître d Fred Sirieix (from 'First Dates') is promising to take you on what Google says will be 'unique walking tour of London' to romantic spots throughout the city. 

You don't necessarily need a Google Pixel phone to join the tours, but an Android or iOS phone with access to Google Lens is a bonus. If you're new to Google's nifty AR tech, check out our guide to using Google Lens or, for those on iOS, our pointers on how to use Google Lens on iPhone or iPad.

The new Lens 'Places' filter can be found in the 'modes' menu at the bottom of the screen – hold your phone up to a landmark, and it'll label it before bringing up a card with extra info, as you can see below.

How to sign up for the free Google Lens tours

You can register for a place on any of the Google Lens tours in Bristol, Liverpool or London today for free, although you may want to be quick as numbers are limited.

Just head to these Eventbrite links for the Bristol Rediscovery Tour, Liverpool Rediscovery Tour and London Rediscovery Tour, and hit the register button to get your spot (or spots).

Google said it chose these particular tours because recent Google Trends data (from 23 March – 12 April) has shown we're particularly craving hiking and walking, alongside gardening and cooking courses.

This new ‘Behind the Lens with Google Pixel’ push is interesting timing, as Apple recently announced some features in iOS 15, including 'Live Text' and 'Visual Look Up', that help it rival Google Lens,

It's early days for Apple's equivalent, though, and it doesn't yet appear to overlay information on real-world objects and locations to the extent of Google Lens. Apple's language support is also limited compared to its Google rival, which remains the best tool for the kind of live translations we'll need when we get traveling outside of the UK. For now, though, Google's UK city walking tours could do the trick. 

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