You no longer have to fire up Google Photos if you want to use Lens to glean information from the world around you. Users have noticed that Lens is now available in Google Assistant on both original Pixel and Pixel 2 phones. Tap a camera button while using the AI helper and you can have it perform a search when you take a photo. It can identify what you're looking at, scour the web and launch other apps. You can rate results, too, so you'll hopefully refine Lens' results over time.
The feature isn't widely available yet -- it may take some time before you see it. There's also no word on availability for other devices. It's safe to say this will make Lens more convenient, though, regardless of what you're using. Before, you had to snap a shot and then switch to Photos to make sense of it. Assistant skips that step -- you can capture an image and decipher it in one go.