Google Play services v9.2: Text API, facial detection & more

By : |June 28, 2016 0

Computer vision is slowly but steadily getting merged into smartphones. Object recognition might not have hit the mainstream yet, but faster processors and high-quality cameras in smartphones have made it very accessible.

After opening up the Mobile Vision API, enabling developers to quickly give their apps the ability to read barcodes and identify orientation and basic facial details, Google takes this a step further with Google Play services v9.2 adding a new Text API that developers can use to add object character recognition (OCR) in their apps.

The Mobile Vision Text API currently supports Latin characters used in languages like English, Spanish, and French. It can also identify conventional written structures like words, paragraphs, and lines of text. The capabilities are certainly reminiscent of Google’s Translate app and Now on Tap, but without support for non-Latin alphabets.

Google’s blog post suggests few ways developers can put OCR to use, like an app that organizes photos based on text visible in the frame or quickly entering information from receipts and business cards. Of course, the possibilities are practically endless.

Play services v9.2 that began to roll out a couple of weeks back also fixes a critical issue in v9.0 that broken the Mobile Vision APIs (i.e. Face and Barcode). At the time, Google advised developers to avoid adding the barcode reader or facial recognition to apps until a new version of Play services was released. Since v9.2 is now in wide release – the staged rollout is finished – it should be safe for developers to resume use of these functions.

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