How To: Copy Text from Real World & Photos via Live View for iPhone on iOS 15

Copy Text from Real World & Photos via Live View for iPhone on iOS 15

Google Lens has easily been one of the more useful AR apps, and a tantalizing tease of life with smartglasses in the not-so-distant future.

Now, Apple has its own version of Lens, which the company has dubbed Live Text, built right into iOS. Like Lens, Live Text can copy text from your camera view or photos in your camera roll. It can also identify animals, plants, and other objects found in photos in your camera roll.

The functionality requires iOS 15, so if you haven't upgraded already, open the Settings app then navigate to General and then Software Update to download and install the update. Also, keep in mind that the feature is only available for devices that use the A12 Bionic chip, therefore, you'll need an iPhone XS, iPhone XR, or later models.

As for the new functionality itself, don't look for a Live Text app, because you won't find it. Here's how to take advantage of this new tool...

Method 1: Camera View (Text Selection Only)

The real-time mode for Live View lives within the stock Camera app.

Step 1: Open the Camera App

If your device is locked, you can easily access the camera by long-pressing the camera icon on your lock screen.

If your device is unlocked, depending on how you've configured your device, you likely have the app shortcut on your home screen. You can also find it in the App Library by swiping to the screen furthest to the right, where you'll find the app in the Photos and Video group or by typing in the search bar. You can also search your device for the app by swiping down from the middle of any home screen and typing in the search bar.

Step 2: Focus on Text

In Photo mode, point the camera towards the text you want to interact with. The app will automatically identify text in your view with yellow brackets, but you can guide it by tapping on the screen to focus.

Once the desired text is bracketed, tap the icon in the lower right corner of the camera view (it looks like lines of text within a bracketed square).

Step 3: Select Text

Live View will capture a still preview of the targeted text. In some cases, a menu of options to interact with the selection, including copy, select all, look up, translate, or share, will appear automatically. Selecting "copy" will add the text to your clipboard, allowing you to paste it into other apps. Otherwise, you can swipe or tap on the text in the preview to refine your selection to a word or phrase.

Method 2: Camera Roll

You can also interact with text from existing photos. Eligible objects for identification include dogs, cats, plants, landmarks, books, and media.

Step 1: Open the Photos App

To copy text or identify objects in existing photos, you'll need to open the Photos app, which is likely on one of your home screens.

You can also find it in the App Library by swiping to the screen furthest to the right, where you'll find the app in the Photos and Video group or by typing in the search bar. You can also search your device for the app by swiping down from the middle of any home screen and typing in the search bar.

Step 2: Choose a Photo

Scroll through your camera roll and find the photo you want to interact with. Tap it to open it.

Step 3: Activate Live View for Text Selection

In the bottom right-hand corner of the photo, you'll find the Live View icon, just as in Step 2 of Method 1. Tap it and the app will identify text within the image.

Long-press on identified text to select it and access the menu of options, including copy, select all, lookup, translate, or share. Selecting "copy" will add the text to your clipboard, allowing you to paste it into other apps.

Step 4: Scan the Photo for Objects

To identify objects in your photo, the information icon (lower case "i" in a circle) will gain stars, denoting that eligible objects for identification are within view. Tap the icon to access the information shade.

At the top of the shade, you'll find an option to look up the identified object. Tap it to pull up Siri's knowledge about the object.

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Cover image, screenshots, and GIFs by Tommy Palladino/Gadget Hacks

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