Reverse image search engines take an image as an input and search the web for visually similar images. It can be used to find out if someone has plagiarised your copyright image, identify unknown things, track the source of an image, amongst several other things. Google’s reverse image search is the most popular reverse image search engine out of the lot but it is only available for the desktop, barring Android and iPhone users from this elemental feature. So, if you have been thinking about doing a reverse image search on phones, here’s you how to reverse image search on Android and iPhone:
How to Reverse Image Search on Android
1. Image Search
Image Search allows you to quickly reverse search an image by sharing the image from your gallery, browser, or anywhere you like. There’s an option to upload an image from within the app, although I find using the “Share” menu much more convenient.
It lets you use custom reverse search engines and has a couple of neat Google reverse image search specific features like blocking explicit images and setting region based redirects. It can compress images for faster uploads, so it has users with poor network connection covered. Once the image has been uploaded, it can display the result in a custom Chrome tab, or a browser of your choice. All in all, it’s a solid Google reverse image search tool, wrapped in a beautiful Material Design UI.
Install: (Free, with in-app purchases)
2. Search By Image
Search By Image is another simple reverse image search tool, which displays reverse search engine results from Google Images and TinEye. Performing a reverse image search is as easy as sharing the picture from anywhere, and selecting the “Search by Image” option. Like Image Search, it also lets you select an image from within the app, although as I’ve already mentioned, sharing the image is a much more convenient way to accomplish the same. You can crop, resize or flip an image before actually uploading it.
In its settings, you can set the search results to show inside the app or your default browser. The preferred search engine is set to Google by default, but you can change it to TinEye if you like. If you choose to use Google, you get an additional setting to set the level of “Google Safe Search” to block explicit images.
Install: (Free, ad-supported)
How to Reverse Image Search on iPhone
1. Search By Image Extension
Search By Image Extension is the newest addition to the batch of similar iOS apps. To reverse search an image, just share the image from the Photos app, browser or literally anywhere and select the “Search Image” option.
It can reverse search an image using Google and Yandex, as of now. You can select to display the results in your browser of choice. If you don’t like opening a full-fledged web browser, you can choose to open it in “in-app Safari” (à la Chrome custom tabs!).
Reversee is a reverse image search engine client for iOS that comes with a lot of bells and whistles. The free version comes with an editor to crop or rotate the image, an option to display search results in your preferred browser and share images from inside apps to make reverse searching a lot more convenient.
The pro version unlocks more features like the ability to choose from multiple search engines (Google, Bing, Yandex) for enhanced search results. It also lets you auto-crop images, unlock more editor options, remove ads and much more.
Install: (Free, with $3,99 for Pro version)
Veracity is another popular reverse image search engine client for iOS. Because Veracity doesn’t support sharing from inside apps, you must explicitly launch it everytime you want to reverse search an image. You can select an image from your camera roll, photo library, Dropbox or from the clipboard.
As a bonus, It can identify contents inside the image. The free version shows ads alongside search results and can be removed with an in-app purchase. Another in-app purchase of about a dollar unlocks a crop tool to crop images before uploading.
Install: (Free, with in-app purchases)
Reverse Image Search Using Web Services
You can reverse image search using a few web services, eliminating the need for a dedicated app. I’ll list down a couple of such web services:
CTRLQ is a simple web service that lets you upload a picture from your Android or iOS device and perform a Google reverse image search for it. You’ll need to have the image saved to your gallery/camera roll beforehand.
Unlike Google, TinEye lets you upload an image from your Android or iOS device and perform a reverse image search for it. TinEye’s website lets you upload an image from the Gallery or Google Drive if you visit the website from an Android device. On an iOS device, it lets you upload an image from the camera roll or iCloud Drive (nothing surprising here, right?).
3. Google Images
Note: This is a kind of workaround to make Google reverse image search work on mobile.
By now you probably know that you can reverse image search on Google Images from the desktop, but not from the mobile site. You can get around this easily by requesting a desktop site from the mobile browser while you’re on Google Images website.
Here’s how to do it on Chrome mobile for Android and iOS:
- Tap on the three dots overflow menu and select “Request Desktop Site“.
Here’s how to do it on Safari:
- Long tap on the reload icon in the address bar and select “Request Desktop Site“.
In both the cases, the Google Images website should reload with the desktop version and you can upload images from your Android/iPhone by clicking on the camera icon:
Pro-tip: In Chrome, you can reverse search an image quickly by long tapping the image and selecting “Search Google for this image“. Of course, this works only on images on the web and not your locally saved images.
Reverse Image Search on Mobile Using These Apps
It is quite surprising that Google Images doesn’t let you reverse image search by default on mobile. Thankfully, you can use any of these apps to reverse image search on your Android device and iPhone/iPad. If you think installing an app is a bit overkill for a service you’ll use infrequently, suite yourself with the above-mentioned web services.
What do you think of reverse image search? Can you think of any creative uses for reverse searching an image on mobile? I’d love to hear in the comments section below.