Have you ever looked at a flower and wondered what kind of plant it is ? Fortunately, some apps promise to reveal the names of plants and flowers you find in the wild. You just have to point your phone camera at them to get the answer.
Of the available apps, few are as successful as Microsoft’s Bing and Google Lens. In addition to identifying flowers and plants, these apps can identify products, books, and—in Google Lens’s case—even places.
Here’s how to use Bing and Google Lens for flower identification. We’ll also give you a few additional plant identification apps to try out.
1. Identify Plants With Bing Search
While you might dismiss Bing as inferior to Google, the Bing mobile app is actually great for identifying flora. When you first open it, you’ll see a large search button with a camera and a mic button nearby.
To use Bing as a flower identifier:
- Tap the camera icon to open up the camera search function.
- Point your camera at the flower or item that you want to identify. Take a photo of it.
- If you prefer, you can also pull up a picture from your camera roll.
- Once you take a photo, Bing will scan the image and provide you with three possible search results, including accompanying images. It will also display similar images.
2. Identify Plants With Google Lens
Google Lens is available as a standalone app for Android users. Meanwhile, iPhone owners get Google Lens bundled as part of the Google Photos app. The dedicated Google Lens is far simpler to use. When you open the app, your entire phone screen becomes a camera lens.
To use this to identify a flower by a picture:
- Tap the screen when you want to take a picture of an item.
- Once you take a picture, Google Lens will display one main result for that item, accompanied by a photo, a list of related content, and similar images.
- Tapping on the main photo will take you to a Google search page with a description of the plant.
If you’re using Google photos for iPhone:
- Take a picture with your regular camera, then open up that picture in the Google Photos app.
- Next, tap on the Google Lens button at the bottom of the screen. It will tell you what kind of flower this is within seconds.
Is Bing Search or Google Lens Better?
Before moving into the other available apps, let’s consider whether Microsoft Bing or Google Lens is better for plant identification by photo.
If you judge purely on how the app successfully identifies flowers, then Google Lens just ekes out Bing. Both apps failed multiple times to identify certain plants and flowers, but both also successfully identified distinct flowers like the hydrangea as well as the lesser-known lantana.
They also both identified petunia and mint. However, with the Bing results, these were identified through a similar photo, rather than the Bing app suggesting it as one of its three main options.
Google Lens distinguishes itself by making its identifications slightly faster than Bing. Plus, the more you use the app, the more you’re contributing to Google’s AI identification skills. There’s plenty more you can do with Google Lens, too, including pulling the contact information from business cards and identifying unusual foods.
The one way in which Bing is better than Google Lens is that it provides you with more image results. So if it doesn’t correctly identify the plant, there’s a chance it will offer up an image that allows you to figure out what plant you’re looking at.
Now that we’ve run through which is better, let’s briefly touch on some other apps you can use to identify plants. Don’t forget about other apps to identify anything else using your phone’s camera.
PictureThis is a plant identifying app with both free and premium versions. It’s one of the most identification apps available, and for good reason.
Easy to use, simple to navigate, and possessing excellent search results, this app proved during testing that it could identify the plants in each photo we took. It also helped us figure out what kind of plant something was when the other two apps failed.
Some aspects to note:
- Every picture you take with the app is stored in your My collections section. You can easily access this information again if you needed.
- There is a community of plant enthusiasts on the app to connect with. You can like and comment on pictures, or share them.
- By turning on Location Services with this app, PictureThis can “show the plants you identified and help you find nearby flowers.” These flowers are then pinned on the map. You can see nearby plants identified by other users, too.
The premium version allows you to identify plants without any limits. It also lets you use the app without any ads or interruptions. Even with the limited free version of PictureThis, however, you can still get a lot out of the service.
4. Plant Identification ++
Plant Identification ++ is another plant identifying app that’s free to use with an optional premium subscription. However, the free version still works fine if all you’re hoping to do is identify plants quickly and easily.
When you open the app, take a picture of a plant or pull up a picture from your photo album. Once you take a photo, the app searches its database and pulls up possible results.
We found these search results to be overwhelmingly accurate. Additionally, when you tap on the results, Plant Identification ++ locates the plant’s information page on Wikipedia.
Other features that you should know about:
- Once you take a picture of a plant with the app, that picture ends up in your My Collections section.
- If you subscribe to the premium version of Plant Identification ++, you gain the ability to get unlimited identification tools.
Essentially, this app is simple to use and low-stress. It’s perfect for plant enthusiasts who don’t want to connect with others on social media. The major downside is that it shows too many ads for its premium subscription, plus it’s only available for iPhone users.
Download: Plant Identification ++ for iOS (Free, subscription available)
Like the other apps on this list, NatureID allows you to explore the world around you. With the option to jump straight into a premium plan after a three-day trial or continue on with the limited free version, NatureID has a solution for everyone. It’s perfect for both power users and occasional enthusiasts.
When you identify a flower by picture, NatureID pulls up an ID card on it. On this card, you’ll see:
- The name of the plant
- Its taxonomy
- A list of subspecies
- Cultivation and practical uses for the plant
- Additional information and sections (when appropriate), such as Symbolism and Folklore
This last section is particularly interesting. With Symbolism and Folklore, for example, the app talks about what the flowers or plants have meant historically and what they symbolize now.
Unfortunately, NatureID is only available for iOS.
Download: NatureID for iOS (Free, subscription available)
Identify Plants With These Green Thumb Apps
Identifying plants can be a lot of fun once you get started. The best part about these apps is that if you use them often enough, you’ll begin to recognize flowers and vegetables on your own.
Once you get better at it, you can also check out these mobile gardening apps for Android and iPhone to help you create a gorgeous garden.
Read the full article: The 5 Best Plant Identifier Apps for Android and iPhone