Circle to Search could be adding another feature — and I couldn't be happier

An image showing the Samsung Galaxy S24 with the Circle to Search feature being used on screen
(Image credit: Future)

The best Galaxy AI tool introduced as part of this year's Galaxy S24 launch sounds like it's about to pick up a new capability. And that's an encouraging sign that Samsung and Google aren't finished with fine-tuning their features powered by artificial intelligence.

I'm talking about Circle to Search, the AI feature where you draw a circle around or tap an image that you want to look up. Instead of launching a completely different, the Circle to Search results pop up in separate results window that slides into view. When you're done looking up things, you dismiss the window and wind up back exactly where you left off.

The initial version of Circle to Search excelled at tracking down shopping information about objects you circled, but you could also use it to search for details on points of interest, animals and plants. However, some newfound code related to Circle to Search suggests it's also going to gain the ability to capture screenshots on your phone that you'll be able to easily send to others.

Circle to Search screenshots — what you need to know

A screenshot showing screenshot capturing tools related to Circle to Search

(Image credit: AssembleDebugger / X)

AssembleDebug, who spends their time uncovering features in Google apps, discovered the Circle to Search screen capture code and dutifully passed on their findings to PiunikaWeb. In that report, you can see a video of Circle to Search capturing screenshots in greater detail.

From what we can see, you would circle something on your phone screen as before, and then use handles to resize and refine exactly what you're selecting. (That's a good addition, as in my experience, the current Circle to Search selection process doesn't fee precise enough for screenshots.) According to AssembleDebug, "Copy Image" and "Share Image" buttons will appear over your selection.

The "Share Image" option is particularly intriguing to me, as it implies that sharing screenshots will work much the way Circle to Search results do — that it, you'll be able to do it without having to jump into another app, and when you're done, you remain in the same place you were before. That makes the new feature sound like a real time-saver that won't interrupt your workflow.

That would make screenshot sharing an exciting addition to Circle the Search all on its own. But I also like this rumored enhancement because it addresses something I first worried about after experiencing Circle to Search for the first time at the Galaxy S24 launch event.

Circle to Search impressed me at the time, but I worried about its focus on e-commerce results and whether it would suffer from the same factors that are currently compromising web searches in general. "It's a feature that's going to have to evolve beyond its current use cases," I wrote at the time. I'd say a screenshot sharing capability is a pretty good step in that evolution.

Circle to Search outlook

Developed by both Google and Samsung, Circle to Search started out life as a Galaxy S24-exclusive, though it quickly jumped over to the Pixel 8 as well. Once Samsung and Google brought the feature to their current flagships, we began to see it extend to additional phones. For instance, Samsung's One UI 6.1 interface has already brought Galaxy AI tools to last year's Galaxy S23 models along with the Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Galaxy Z Flip 5. Starting in May, Galaxy S22 models and the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Flip 4 add those features, too.

While I'm sure Google and Samsung are making their own decisions on which phones get which AI features independent of the smartphone landscape, I can't help but think of Apple standing on the sidelines while a bunch of existing Android phones pick up some pretty cool AI-powered features. Yes, this year's iOS 18 update figures to bring a lot of AI capabilities of its own, but by the time that arrives, imagine how many Samsung phones are going to already be running Galaxy AI tools.

And in the case of Circle to Search, it sounds like they'll be running a tool that's going to get even better with age.

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Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.