Google announced the launch of a new image search feature today, which actually lets you search by an image itself, rather than text. Like voice search, this has been available on mobile for some time (via Google Goggles), but now it's coming to the desktop.
Google explains on its Inside Search blog:
You might have an old vacation photo, but forgot the name of that beautiful beach. Typing [guy on a rocky path on a cliff with an island behind him] isn’t exactly specific enough to help find your answer. So when words aren’t as descriptive as the image, you can now search using the image itself.
To search using an image, go to images.google.com and just put your picture in the search box. There are many ways to do this. You can click the camera icon in the search box and upload a photo from your computer or paste the URL of an image from the web. You can also drag and drop pictures from webpages or your computer into the search box. To search images on the web even faster with just one click, you can download the Chrome or Firefox extensions.
Google says the feature returns the best results for images that have related content already on the web, so you'll be more likely to get relevant results for landmarks, paintings, and things like that, as opposed to images of your family. This is pretty standard for Google Goggles already.
Google made it clear at its Inside Search event that it does not use facial recognition technology, surely thwarting any potential privacy complaints.
The feature is rolling out globally today.