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Google today announced that its Cloud Vision application programming interface (API), which can give applications new image recognition capabilities, is now available in beta for anyone to use. For the past two months it was only available in a limited preview.

The API can carry out multiple functions, including optical character recognition (OCR), detection of faces in photos, recognition of the emotion on faces, detection of logos, detection of inappropriate content (think nudity), and, of course, object detection. It’s “powered by the same technologies under Google Photos,” as Google Cloud Platform product manager Ram Ramanathan wrote in a blog post today.

The release of the API is a big deal because it’s the first time Google is offering the public a fully trained service for image recognition, which is one of Google’s core assets. (Google image search, anyone?) And that’s why it should be a distinctive part of the Google Cloud Platform, which competes with public cloud market leader Amazon Web Services.

Pricing details for the API are now live on the Google website. Based on the pricing, OCR on 1,000 images, for instance, will cost you just 60 cents, Ramanathan wrote.

Documentation for the new API is here, and code samples can be found here.


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