Have you seen an image from which you wished to extract some text or numbers? And then thought to yourself, this is tough to type it all down! Well, that is not the case anymore.
Optical character recognition (OCR) is here for the rescue. All those hours wasted to replicate the text digitally are now a thing of the past.
The world, as we know, has gone digital in a jiffy. That means we are no longer the generation that depends on the good old computers and desktops for our information. We want everything right at our fingertips and fast. This has resulted in the invention and development of smartphones.
Like all things with smartphones, functionality comes through apps, thus resulting in the need for them. This is the case with OCR as well, to have your smartphone be OCR compatible, you need an app to gain the functionality and use it.
OCR for mobile has come a long way – from rudimentary apps to full-blown enterprise solutions that are available at a cost. Today, over 95% of the smartphone market consists of two operating systems – Android and iOS.
Thus, we will be checking the apps that are compatible with these two operating systems.
Do note that some of the apps are functional on both iOS and Android. Their versions for other operating systems will also have some of the functionalities.
So let us go through the top 10 OCR apps for Android and iOS:
We all know Google’s Keep as the cloud-based note-keeping app, a close competitor of Evernote and OneNote. Google keeps updating the app from time to time. An interesting feature it provides, along with note-keeping, is its capability to capture the text from images.
Google Keep uses the camera and grabs the text from images. But it can do so only if the image is captured from the app.
Once the image is obtained, the text is quickly captured and stored in digital format in a note. The text is available to the users without having to type in anything manually. The users can then delete the image from the note.
Once the text is extracted, it automatically synchronizes with the cloud on every device associated with the account. Available for iOS and Android both, Google Keep is a free and ads-free app just like OneNote.
An OCR app available for Android is one of the best OCR apps available today. It is a robust and fast app that comes handy if you need to use the OCR app frequently.
Text fairy does not just convert image to text, but it also corrects the viewpoint from where the photo is taken.
For example, if there is a crease on the page, the app enhances the image to improve clarity. The app then lets you edit the captured text for minor discrepancies.
Text Fairy lets you copy the text to paste in any other app. You are also given an option of exporting the text to a PDF file. Text Fairy is a free app as well as devoid of any ads.
Like Google Keep, CamScanner is another OCR app that is available for both Android and iOS. CamScanner lets you digitalize any documents on the go.
The document scanning features of the app are available in the free version. You have to get the premium version of the app for its OCR features.
The premium version of the app provides several features along with the free version. It offers you an option to extract the text from the scanned image. It gives you various options of conversion, such as text to image, image to WORD, or image to EXCEL.
The OCR of CamScanner is, but, not as accurate as that of Text Fairy and Google Keep. The subscription to the premium version of the app is available for $ 4.99/month or $49.99/year.
Microsoft does not compromise with quality when it comes to productivity applications. Its OCR engine is probably the most superior among the competition. But the only issue is, it works seamlessly with its Office 365 Suite, but not so much with other third-party apps.
So if you are an active 365 user, then you don’t need to look further from Office Lens. Else, opt for some other OCR app. Office Lens works well with all, Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Note, etc. and it is free to use on both iOS and Android.
Available on both iOS and Android, Adobe Scan is one of the best out there in the OCR market. When it comes to document management, Adobe is one of the first names which comes to mind, and why wouldn’t it.
Adobe has one of the best OCR engines available for mobile, and it is evident in Adobe Scan. It allows not just to scan but also to edit, annotate, and comment on the go. It is free for use and even provides 5GB of cloud storage for your scanned documents.
The only downside is that it is not compatible with any other storage solutions. So, the user is dependent on the 5GB of storage or would have to buy more from Adobe if needed.
Also Read: OCR vs. ICR: What Differentiates the Two?
This app can do some things that others can’t, and it cannot do things that others can. So, it is somewhat of a mixed bag. Smart Lens lets its users scan any document, and it can convert the image to text, but moreover, it can also convert the scanned text to any other language.
Its built-in translator comes handy if you are say traveling and need help in understanding the text from another language. Yet, basic functionality that other apps have, such as handwriting image to text conversion, is not supported.
Even then, Smart Lens can be considered as a good option for Android users if they are looking for a language translator OCR app.
Text Scanner will be your best bet if you want an app that supports handwriting recognition. It is fast, fluidic, and gets the job done with ease. Text Scanner is available for Android and comes with a Freemium model.
The free mode will bombard you with ads. But you can get the in-app purchases and get rid of the ads. But this has no impact on the performance of the app in any way.
Comes with an OOTB model which does not need any registration or logging in; simply install and use. It also comes with an offline mode and hence works in all conditions. Its backend is smooth and well-built.
It not only clicks and detects text, but it also sharpens the image a bit before proceeding. This enables more accurate text recognition.
You can also use images in your gallery to detect text off it. It is built on the Tesseract OCR engine, which is an open-source engine developed by Google and comes with an Android-only version.
Evernote is the perfect competition for all the office suite biggies such as Microsoft and Google. Its app Evernote Scannable is available for iOS and makes life a lot easier.
One can simply scan any document or a business card, and the app will automatically capture information from it. Images can be stored as JPG or PDF. The data can be quickly used to create contacts from business cards or be copy-pasted into other applications.
Available on Android, this app is rated by far the best app to recognize handwriting to digital text. It can, of course, convert printed text to digital text from images.
But its handwriting engine is by far the best rated of the lot. It is highly useful for students and professionals whose life involves a lot in note-taking. It is available for free on Android.
Mobile OCR apps have evolved substantially in the past couple of years. Each app has its advantages, and most importantly, they add real value to the lives of the users. For people looking for a simple app that will be used occasionally, the free ones are a good option.
For those who use this mostly professionally, opting for the paid version would be recommended.
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