How Google Solved Sudoku

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A model is seen backstage playing Sudoku

Alessia Pierdomenico/Reuters

Can’t Google allow us to do anything for ourselves?

For those of us who thought Sudoku was a pleasant little game, what with its simple grid of digits and empty boxes, that let us wile away the daily commute, we now need to recalibrate our perceptions. Because a new version of Google’s image recongition app, Goggles, that can recognize barcodes and adverts, is also able to literally fill in the blanks when it comes to Sudoku, irrespective of the level of difficulty.

(See inside the mind of a Sudoku master.)

All you need to do to achieve Sudoku mastery is use your phone’s camera to snap the Sudoku puzzle and send it to Google. The servers can crunch and compute the answers and then send an image of the completed puzzle back. If your phone’s internet connection is speedy enough, the results can be delivered within seconds, which is certaintly quicker than it takes for NewsFeed to fill in one space the old-fashioned way.

Phil McNeill, the Daily Telegraph‘s Puzzles Editor, said the development was “a sad day” for puzzle fans. “When you finally solve a real mind-bender, it brings a rush of achievement. I hope Google’s new tool won’t diminish that feeling,” he said.

(See more on Sudoku.)

But with the temptation so readily available, it will require real courage to resist the urge to finish a puzzle, all the while contemplating that the computers — and Google — have finally won and we are but pawns in the wider game we call life.