UPDATE: The article stated that “ScanBee for iPhones was a $3 US app. However, the price recently was dropped to zero.” A number of newsletter readers reported installing it as a FREE app. However, the new price of FREE was a short-term promotion that lasted for a few days. The price has since reverted back to $3 US (£2.99 in the UK, $4.99 in Australian dollars, $4.99 in New Zealand, $3.99 Canadian). Even at that price, I would consider it to be a bargain.
Your smartphone is one of the greatest tools available today. You can find thousands of apps that will perform all sorts of tasks. For genealogists, one of the more valuable tools is that of converting the smartphone into a scanner.
While I always think of genealogical uses for smartphone apps, the fact is that a scanner app in your phone can be used for dozens of other purposes. I scan all sorts of things: receipts, insurance documents, children’s report cards, menus from local take-out restaurants, automobile registrations, eyeglass prescriptions, recipes found in newspapers and magazines, and much, much more. I also have digitized my driver’s license and passport as well.
Numerous scanning apps are available for both iPhones and Android phones. A quick look in the phone’s app store will show several apps that convert your phone into a handheld scanner.
For the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, my favorite scanning app is ScanBee. ScanBee reportedly has been downloaded and installed more than 100,000 times. Users have rated ScanBee at 4.8 stars out of a maximum of 5 on the Apple App Store.
NOTE: The Android Play Store also has an available app called ScanBee but it is not related to the iPhone app of the same name. The Android app called ScanBee has nothing to do with scanners. However, Android also has many scanner apps available. To find Android scanner apps, go to the Play Store and search on: scanner.
ScanBee for iPhones was a $3 US app. However, the price recently was dropped to zero. Yes, ScanBee is a free app. I don’t think you will find a better bargain for a scanner!
ScanBee uses the cell phone’s camera to take a photo of a document, a sign, a whiteboard’s contents, a blackboard, or most any thing else. It then detects the edges of the document or other item being digitized, crops the image so that only the document is digitized and any surrounding “clutter” is eliminated.
The app even includes image enhancing filters that will sharpen or otherwise improve the image you scanned. Whenever you are finished with the scanning process, the image is saved as a PDF file.
ScanBee creates very sharp images of documents when used in any of the iPhones with high-resolution cameras that have been produced in the last few years. It may not give as sharp images with the lower-resolution cameras in older iPhones, however.
The resultant file can then be opened in any app that can open PDF documents on your iPhone or it can be sent to anyone via email. Of course, you could send it to your own email address and then save the scanned image(s) wherever you wish, in your computer(s), in the cloud, on a flash drive, or anyplace else you want.
The ScanBee app will quickly scan many documents to a single PDF file. It will even reorder and add new pages to an existing PDF.
Again, not bad for a free app!
This is a great tool if you want to digitize a single document or a few documents while at home or at a library, archive, or public records office. I wouldn’t want to scan several hundred pages from a book using ScanBee, however. There are better, although more expensive, tools for scanning hundreds of pages.
I do wish ScanBee would save files in other formats, such as JPG or GIF. However, I can’t complain too much about a shortcoming in a free app. Besides, there are numerous ways of converting PDF files to other formats. See my earlier article, Use CloudConvert to Convert a File from One Format to Another at http://bit.ly/2XEGhfe, for the method that I use. It is also free and it works in the cloud. That means it works with any computer: Windows, Macintosh, Chromebook, or even iPhone or Android devices. No software installation is needed.
You might want to try scanning a few documents with ScanBee. If you don’t care for it, you can easily uninstall it within a few seconds. After all, it didn’t cost you anything.
You can learn more about ScanBee at: https://apps.apple.com/app/id799355420. However, it is probably even easier to use your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to go to the app store and search on: ScanBee.
OK, now start digitizing that pile of papers on your desk!