Contains metadata.

Wednesday, June 17th, 2020

One of the things I like about the Google photos infrastructure is that it does a decent job of holding on to important information—we call it metadata—about when and where a photo was made.

But even more interestingly, when you upload photos with readable text on the screen, the images are read and that text is something you can search for! If I type in the word “contains”, what comes up is a big stack of pictures that have only one thing in common: you can make out the word “contains” on the screen. It’s there on a wine bottle label! A tiny fake creamer label! A modern museum exhibit! An ancient museum exhibit! A software update on an iPhone screen!

This is remarkably useful and in the tests I’ve done so far, it really doesn’t matter what typeface the words appear in or how tilted the surface is…the word appears. It’s valuable searchable metadata.