When I’m looking for a picture I’m going to use in an academic project, I typically search Creative Commons; however, Google’s image search is quite useful. The interface is changing to make it easier to view a picture in context (and a little harder to download an image without visiting the source page). The the underlying tools (opening an image in a new window, downloading the image, and searching by image) are still accessible for those who really need it. Sounds like a fair way to encourage users to visit pages that host the images.
Google is making a change to image search today that sounds small but will have a big impact: it’s removing the “view image” button that appeared when you clicked on a picture, which allowed you to open the image alone. The button was extremely useful for users, since when you’re searching for a picture, there’s a very good chance that you want to take it and use it for something. Now, you’ll have to take additional steps to save an image. […] Google has also removed the “search by image” button that appeared when you opened up a photo, too. This change isn’t quite as big, however. You’ll still be able to do a reverse image search by dragging the image to the search bar, and Google will still display related images when you click on a search result. The button may have been used by people to find un-watermarked versions of images they were interested in, which is likely part of why Google pulled it. —The Verge