Google Goggles for Android lets you cheat at Sudoku

Google's Goggles app for Android will now solve your Sudoku puzzle in less than 30 seconds. Come see how cool it looks.

Nick Hide Managing copy editor
Nick manages CNET's advice copy desk from Springfield, Virginia. He's worked at CNET since 2005.
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Nick Hide
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If you desperately need to impress a good-looking fellow commuter or frighten an old person with new-fangled magic, Google has the answer: its Goggles app for Android will now solve your Sudoku in less than 30 seconds.

Goggles connects your phone's little camera to the Internet, letting you Google anything you can photograph. Its software analyses your shots and provides search results for text and images -- and now lets you cheat at newspaper games.

It works brilliantly, even on elderly Android hardware such as the HTC Hero, which uses version 2.1 of the OS (you need 1.6 minimum). Even counting the time it took to open the app and for us to click on 'sudoku' and 'solve', it took a mere 33 seconds for our ageing Hero to provide a full solution to the Guardian's medium-difficulty puzzle today.

If you're a real Sudoku fan this is probably heresy. Sure, it's a pointless application of the tech, but it looks really cool scanning the numbers and solving the puzzle and that's the whole point.

The app's 1.3 update also adds the ability to scan print adverts, but we found its text recognition unreliable, struggling with fairly standard print layouts such as columns. Goggling an ad in the Guardian for Roxy Music's latest comeback tour, we got correct YouTube videos and an album cover from the image, but the text search gave us something to do with potassium and an article on eye goop.

An ad in Amateur Photographer magazine for £100 off Canon EOS EF lenses, when you buy an EOS 5D Mark II or EOS 7D, also threw it off. It didn't understand the wording, "Up to £100 savings on selected lenses", and it read EF as EJ. The text results gave us articles on best EOS lenses and prices (in US $) for EOS cameras.

Its translation tools, while optimised for Western characters, are impressive. We Goggled the back of an HTC box we had lying around, and while it didn't work for Korean or Russian characters, its translation of German was fast and accurate.

So Goggles is definitely still a work in progress, but it has the potential to help travellers -- as long as they have a data connection -- as well as people who find typing just too fiddly. We'll keep typing our searches for now, but the Sudoku solution is definitely coming out when we next see Granny Crave. It'll blow her old mind.

Goggles 1.3 is available now. Search the Android Market or scan this handy QR code.