Android's Circle to Search can now help students solve math and physics homework

It can show step-by-step instructions on how to solve a range of math and physics problems.


Google has introduced another capability for its Circle to Search feature at the company's annual I/O developer conference, and it's something that could help students better understand potentially difficult class topics. The feature will now be able to show them step-by-step instructions for a "range of physics and math word problems." They just have to activate the feature by long-pressing the home button or navigation bar and then circling the problem that's got them stumped, though some math problems will require users to be signed up for Google's experimental Search Labs feature.

The company says Circle to Search's new capability was made possible by its new family of AI models called LearnLM that was specifically created and fine-tuned for learning. It's also planning to make adjustments to this particular capability and to roll out an upgraded version later this year that could solve even more complex problems "involving symbolic formulas, diagrams, graphs and more." Google launched Circle to Search earlier this year at a Samsung Unpacked event, because the feature was initially available on Galaxy 24, as well as on Pixel 8 devices. It's now also out for the Galaxy S23, Galaxy S22, Z Fold, Z Flip, Pixel 6 and Pixel 7 devices, and it'll likely make its way to more hardware in the future.

In addition to the new Circle to Search capability, Google has also revealed that devices that can support the Gemini for Android chatbot assistant will now be able to bring it up as an overlay on top of the application that's currently open. Users can then drag and drop images straight from the overlay into apps like Gmail, for instance, or use the overlay to look up information without having to swipe away from whatever they're doing. They can tap "Ask this video" to find specific information within a YouTube video that's open, and if they have access to Gemini Advanced, they can use the "Ask this PDF" option to find information from within lengthy documents.

Google is also rolling out multimodal capabilities to Nano, the smallest model in the Gemini family that can process information on-device. The updated Gemini Nano, which will be able to process sights, sounds and spoken language, is coming to Google's TalkBack screen reader later this year. Gemini Nano will enable TalkBack to describe images onscreen more quickly and even without an internet connection. Finally, Google is currently testing a Gemini Nano feature that can alert users while a call is ongoing if it detects common conversation patterns associated with scams. Users will be alerted, for instance, if they're talking to someone asking them for their PINs or passwords or to someone asking them to buy gift cards.

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