(+) Perhaps the Best Scanner and OCR App for the iPhone and iPad

The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. 

If this isn’t the best scanning and OCR app for Apple’s handheld devices, I’d like to know what is! I have been using this great app for a couple of days and am very impressed with it.

Using a smartphone’s built-in camera may work fine for a quick photo, but taking pictures of pages that you want to read is another matter entirely. A scanner, on the other hand, digitizes the page and lets you do so much more with the resulting digital file. I have experimented with several apps that convert an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch into a scanner. Most of them have worked well. However, I recently saw an announcement for a new offering and decided to try it. The bottom line: this $9.99 app beats everything else I have seen, hands down. It handles all the basics well and has a terrific set of additional capabilities that can be very useful to a genealogist at a research center—or most anywhere that one might want to capture text or pictures for use in computer programs. It easily captures text, such as the pages in a book or magazine.

It not only capture images, but also performs OCR (Optical Character Recognition). You can snap a picture of a book or magazine or a printed document, and the app will convert the words into computer-readable text. It also saves business cards or most any other text and even stores the results internally or on iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive, Evernote, Box.com, or most any other online file storage service. You can also send the results to yourself or to anyone else via email.

It even detects and converts text in up to 40 different languages. (Note: No scanner available at consumer prices can yet convert handwriting to text.) For example, you can scan a text in French and have it translated into English or Russian right within the app (using Microsoft Translate web-based service—an Internet connection is required). If you prefer, you can also save the output as text (in French or whatever other language is used), then exit the app, open a web browser, and send the text to Google Translate for conversion into your desired language. If you find ancestral records in a foreign language, translation could hardly be faster or easier. I also hope to use this on my next trip to Europe; it should be great for reading restaurant menus!

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