OCR on your iPhone
iOS App of the Week I often use the camera on my iPhone to take quick snapshots of telephone numbers and other bits of information that I see when I’m out and about during the day. When I get home, I have to write the info down somewhere, or maybe enter it into my contacts or some other app on the iPhone.
That’s a tedious little chore, so I was pleased to come across TextGrabber, a handy little OCR app that has now taken up permanent residence on my iPhone.
Take a picture...
As the saying goes, TextGrabber does just what it says on the tin. You can take a picture from within the app itself, or use any existing photo that’s already stored on the iPhone. TextGrabber can then use its optical character-recognition features to read any text within the photo and store it as a text file.
A simple crop tool allows you to select specific areas to scan within the photo, and as long as the photo is in focus, TextGrabber's OCR engine is accurate enough to record most short snippets of information quite effectively.
...select the text you want, and TextGrabber will convert it to plain text...
That said, developer Abbyy says that the camera on the iPad isn’t good enough for OCR, which is why the app is currently only listed as compatible with the iPhone.
The resulting text file is stored within the app, so you can easily copy telephone numbers and web addresses into other apps using iOS' cut'n'paste features.
....ready to copy it, or send it elsewhere
TextGrabber also allows you to send text files via email, or to do a web search for additional information.
It’s very much a one-trick pony, but it’s a handy trick that saves me time and earns its keep when I’m rushing around town. ®
We make our selection of the best iOS smartphone and tablet downloads every Thursday. It you think there's an app we should be considering, please let us know.
More iOS App of the Week Winners
Abbyy TextGrabber 1.5
If the iPad camera isn't up to it, the 3GS one probably isn't going to be much cop either. Guess I'll save my money until I get my next iPhone upgrade.
re: OCR is a bit of a resource hog
Took a picture of your post on my laptop with TextGrabber, then ran the convert. Took about 15 seconds I guess and the results are below:
OCR is a bit of a resource hog* #
Thursday 1ri; S»^:e"-sor 2011 13:I%GMT '. '• "'l:''
The review doesn*t say bow instantly or reliably it decodes a
section of text.
OCR is realty the sort of thing ih^^thsFQU^ii to be integrated
with JOS/AndneMd^WR tow wtere it can be optimised, or handed off to
some meaty in The Cioud. Google pnesumably has
access to decent OCR IP from all the piratiWHAH document digitising
work it's been doing recently. ( dont know what Apple's OCR history is.
Bear in mind
The iPad camera is worse than the camera on the iPhone 2G, its fine for FaceTime, crap for photos.