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Gadgets & Home Improvement

An app solution for your business cards

Six scanner apps which can help you get name cards electronically organised in your smartphone
The Straits Times - February 1, 2012
By: Aaron Tan
| More
An app solution for your business cards ST GRAPHICS: QUEK HONG SHIN

If you are a magnet for business cards and struggle to manage heaps of cards received over the years, help is on the way.

Smartphone developers are churning out mobile apps such as CamCard that can help you scan and organise your business cards quickly.

Online, Google Docs can also convert images of documents into editable text using optical character recognition, or OCR, technology.

In this round-up of productivity apps, we check out popular scanner apps and tell you what we like about them.

CamCard Lite

Free from Apple App Store and Android Market (up to 10 cards in the first week and two per week afterwards)

 

This free app packs impressive features that put other card scanners in the shade.

It takes only a couple of seconds to file a new card in your address book. After capturing a card image, the app automatically trims and enhances the image before scanning the contact information using OCR.

It lets you save notes and capture both sides of a card in a single record. You can save contacts to your phone or export them to Google Contacts.

The app integrates with other applications on your smartphone. For example, you can check out a new contact's office location on Google Maps or add him to your network on LinkedIn.

There are limitations though. You can save only 10 cards in the first week and two more per week afterwards.

This full-featured app, which lets you create groups and back up contacts to the cloud, will set you back $15.99 (for the Android version) or US$6.99 (S$8.85) for the iOS version.

Presto! BizCard

Free from Apple App Store and Android Market (up to 10 cards)

 

Next to CamCard, Presto! BizCard seems somewhat underwhelming.

While it retrieves the correct information on business cards most of the time, OCR accuracy can be poor at times because the app is not able to capture focused images.

Like all such apps, it lets you call or send messages directly or export the contacts to your phonebook.

Unlike CamCard, Presto! BizCard records only one side of a business card per entry, so you may miss out important information printed on the reverse of a card.

The free app will save up to 10 contacts. If you need to put in more, download the full Android version ($4.84) or the iOS version (US$3.99) from the Apple App Store.

WorldCard Mobile

$7.51 (Android); US$6.99 (Apple App Store); $13.99 (Windows Marketplace)

 

Creating new contact entries with WorldCard Mobile is as easy as taking a picture of a business card or using a photo on your smartphone.

You can organise the information by groups, back it up on Dropbox or export it as vCards, a file format for electronic business cards.

As with CamCard, you can view addresses on a map and contact addressees directly by telephone or e-mail. This app goes a step further, letting you look up contacts on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

The app is not pitch perfect. It will capture just one side of a card per entry and its OCR accuracy pales in comparison to CamCard's. Sometimes, e-mail addresses and names have to be edited. But the app transcribes phone numbers accurately.

Apps with a human touch

BizCardArmy

Free from Apple App Store and Android Market (up to three cards)

 

The developers of BizCardArmy say card-scanning apps do not work because business cards vary too widely to get reliable OCR results.

Instead, they have recruited an army of people to transcribe contact details for you around the clock.

The mechanics of the app are simple. After signing up for an account, snap and upload an image of a business card to be transcribed. The contacts will appear in your account within a few hours, with details such as name, address and phone numbers.

Unless you are willing to wait, this approach takes too long. It is not perfect. The scribes do not always return complete information. Phone numbers were missing from some transcribed records during our tests.

The free app is good for only three cards. To have more transcribed, you have to buy additional credits starting from US$5.

CamScanner Lite

Free from Apple App Store and Android Market (up to 50 documents)

 

Like most document-scanning apps, CamScanner Lite will scan and convert a document into a PDF file.

It is easy to use. After capturing a document image with your phone camera. You can crop the image to the preferred size. Multiple documents can be combined into a single file.

Once you are done, save the document on your device or share it through e-mail.

You can also upload files to Google Docs or a file-sharing service such as Dropbox.

Each PDF created with the app includes a watermark that credits the app's developers. The free app will scan up to 50 documents, with up to 10 pages per document.

You can pay $6.99 for the full CamScanner Android app, or US$4.99 for the iOS version, which comes without watermark and usage limitations. But note that neither the free nor paid versions can transcribe text with OCR technology.

 

Google Docs

Free from Android Market

Besides creating documents, the Google Docs app lets you snap a photo of a typewritten page and upload it onto Google's server, which, in turn, converts the photo into an editable document.

In several tests, Google's OCR system flubbed accuracy tests, even for images that were clearly in focus and shot in bright daylight.

Many errors, including misspelled and repeated words, had to be corrected. Because of this and the fact it took a while to upload the snapshots due to a few failed attempts, you are better off typing the document from scratch.

 

The writer is an infocomm professional

 

 

Pages that might interest you: Business Products & Services, Computer & Electronics

 

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