The Google Arts & Culture app has been updated to be able to identify photos of animals, find paintings that are reportedly similar to said animals, and then show you said artwork. It leaves something to be desired.
The app’s new Pet Portraits feature operates in much the same way as the old Art Selfie feature from 2018. Simply download the Google Arts & Culture app, hit the camera button at the bottom of the screen, select the green Pet Portraits filter, then take a photo of your pet. You can also upload a picture from your album, if your cat isn’t feeling particularly photogenic.
From there, Google’s trained computer vision algorithm will evaluate the image to determine what type of creature it’s looking at, before a machine learning algorithm sifts through tens of thousands of artworks to find animals that “look most similar.”
Unfortunately, there appears to be a world of possibility hidden in that phrase. Mashable’s tests largely surfaced animals that bore only a passing resemblance to uploaded pets, in that the supplied photograph and presented artworks did all feature a lightish dog with floppy ears, or a brownish cat with eyes. Everything else from breed to build to patterning was so far removed from the original that you’d be unlikely to draw a connection between the animals if you weren’t told there was one.
Results are cropped in on the animal artwork and presented side by side with your pet’s portrait, so you can see exactly how much Google messed up. From there you can flick through multiple alleged matches, or tap on the surfaced artworks for more information and to view them in their entirety. After all, this is a feature primarily targeted toward stoking people’s interest in art.
Pet Portraits also doesn’t work with all animal species, so you’re out of luck if your pet isn’t a dog, cat, fish, bird, reptile, horse, or rabbit. Mashable’s testing found that uploading a stock image of a mouse returned drawings of wolves. It might be good for your rodent’s self esteem, but it isn’t all that accurate.
You can feed your pet to the Google machine to hopefully help it learn, but don’t expect to come out of it convinced your cat belonged to Louis Wain in their first life.