OCR technology is nothing new. There are multitudes of quality OCR software which helps you convert images and scanned documents into editable text. But in this age of smartphone dominance, having some usable OCR apps is much desirable, especially since the smartphones these days come with high-quality camera which can be used to scan the document or image.
Android and iPhone OS have managed to dominate the smartphone market and no wonder we see a multitude of OCR apps (free and paid) available on both these platforms. The key is to choose the best ones out there and that is what we are aiming for in this post.
Top Android OCR Apps
1. Google Docs
Google dominates the Android market in general and it’s no different when it comes to OCR apps. Google Docs comes with the OCR feature and works really well. As something exclusive for Android, Google docs does a pretty good job of converting the scanned document into text. But as you would expect, there isn’t much of an option to deal with the output other than saving it within the app itself. If you don’t mind copy-pasting the converted document, this is the best OCR app you can get and that too for free.
2. Google Goggles
Another Google app which dominates the Android market and works well as an OCR app too. Take a picture of any image and Google Goggles does a fair job of turning it into an editable text. And the best part is, you can paste that text to anywhere on your phone – be it on Gmail or SMS or notes. What more? you can use Goggles to scan the business cards for you and it can save the details into your contacts section in just a click! Goggles come with Google translate which helps you translate the text into a ton of different languages.
3. OCR Test
OCR Test is an experimental app based on Tesseract and is free to download and use. The accuracy of its OCR isn’t that great, but the way it works is pretty similar to that of Goggles. One good feature, when compared to Goggles, is that OCR Test comes with the “continuous preview” feature which shows a dynamic, real-time display of what the app is recognizing from the live image.
4. TextRact Free OCR
TextRact lets you turn image to live text using textract online server at free-ocr.net. It needs an internet connection to work and also comes in a premium version with added features.
Top iPhone OCR Apps
1. Image to Text – OCR
Image to Text app allows you to extract editable ASCII text from images and share the results by Email or Evernote. All you need to do is take a picture of the document using your iPhone’s camera and email the image to yourself. You will then receive the image along with the text file containing the editable text that was extracted from the image. Works great for English language.
2. Perfect OCR – Document scanner with high quality OCR
Perfect OCR isn’t a free app like any of the above ones. It costs $3.99 as it converts the images to text ‘on the go’. It even stores the history of the text generated. You can crop, rotate and recolor a taken image. But then OCR functionality is pretty slow, as it requires you to capture three images of the text.
Prizmo has to be the most sophisticated OCR app with an easy-to-use interface. But then it costs $9.99, which isn’t cheap by any standards. It is really professional and offers a lot of flexibility. Once the results are generated, you can share them to Dropbox, Evernote and others.
4. Word Lens
Word Lens isn’t one of those run-of-the-mill OCR apps. It’s an app which took the world by storm with its unique interface and features. Word Lens can be used to translate printed words from one language to another with your built-in camera and in real time!
FotoNote costs $1.99, but offers multitude of features for the price. You can use the iPhone camera to take the pictures of magazines or receipts and then let Fotonote to use its OCR technology to convert the photo into editable text. The extracted text can be emailed, copied to clipboard or exported to apps like Facebook, Dropbox etc.
6. TextGrabber + Translator
TextGrabber from Abbyy turns your iPhone into a multifunctional mobile scanner with translation capability. Just take a picture of the text, and you can immediately edit it or translate, share via e-mail and SMS, or post directly to your account at on Facebook, Twitter and Evernote.