AMITIAE - Monday 19 January 2015

Flexible and Useful Scanning App for iOS Devices: CamScanner+

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By Graham K. Rogers


A while back I looked at an app for scanning documents on the iPhone and realised how much more flexible this additional use made iOS devices. That app was Genius Scan - PDF Scanner My most recent review was quite positive.

I have used this countless times, but a while after I first found this, a friend with a Samsung thing, who was helping me with documents, scanned one of the forms I had completed using an Android app, My Scans. I was so impressed with this, that I downloaded the iOS version of My Scans as soon as I found it and reviewed this along with a comparison with Genius Scan.

There are other excellent apps for scanning and I came across one of these this week: CamScanner+ an app priced at $0.99 (see below).

CamScanner+ CamScanner+

After the opening screen, I was shown a series of comments from users. I did not find this particularly inspiring and would have preferred either nothing or an abbreviated tutorial. This brief series of testimonials ends with a Sign in/Register screen, with "Use Now" below.

I am always wary of registering for any product unless there is a clear advantage (like RefME - for academic citations). Although I declined to register, there are those who will find the subscription service and cloud storage that this allows useful.

The main working screen looked slightly confusing as there appeared to be many options, but as these were not active buttons and merely a guide to the possibilities, I was soon able to start work.

While most documents will be scanned using the camera button option on the main screen, a button to the right gives access to other sources: the photo album and cloud sources, Box and Dropbox. Box is a cloud option that the developers have for users who register.

CamScanner+ CamScanner+

I began with a book. It is not easy to make an open volume lay flat, so inevitably there will be curved edges, for example with a flatbed scanner. Like Genius, which puts an orange box fairly accurately round the text area and My Scan, CamScanner+ detected what appeared to be the edges, but the box was easily adjustable and (like the others) magnified a section I was adjusting, so that the specific part of the image can be accurately outlined. Once this was done, I clicked the checkmark to accept the scan and processing took place.

There were several editing options including watermarking and "ink annotations"; the ability to attach a Note; and OCR. I was quite impressed with this optical character recognition feature: the text I had scanned was highlighted and I was able to read this in the app. The accuracy was quite high. This was from a good printed page, although the page was not held evenly when the scan was made. I was able to share (Pasteboard, email and other apps). A number of useful apps that would handle text output were also available to me.

There were also a number of options for using and exporting output. When sending email I was asked to enter a default email, which I found useful. It saves me the bother of going through a list to find the one I prefer if I do want to send myself a copy quickly. I could also send to other recipients.

Other methods of export were to the photo album (as usual), fax, AirPrint, Upload (Dropbox and other options) and other apps (depending on whether JPG or PDF was selected): there was a good selection of apps shown for both.

CamScanner+ CamScanner+

I also tried a page of handwriting (my notes from the iPhone introduction in 2007). As before, a number of editing functions were made available. Once done, I exported as a saved image (JPG) and email. This time I was also given the option of a Doc Link. When I tried this, however, I was asked to log in first: one of those extra features that come from registration that I will do without for now. The PDF and JPG options were both economical at 0.60 MB and were easy to send. Each file is sent separately.

I was not altogether hopeful of the OCR for this item as I am well aware that my handwriting is often unclear - even to me - and some sections had not been highlighted in initial processing. I did rerun this and try OCR again, but I have to admit this was not a success. The image is below: it is easy to see why software would not be able to cope with this.


CamScanner+ CamScanner+

As each file is processed, it is saved within the app, so can be examined and processed again should this be needed. There are options for handling documents in a folder (others may be created), so if this were to be used often - say, as part of a business solution - it would be fairly simple to organise scans and documents within the app. This also works on the iPad, albeit in the unoptimized mode (x1, x2), but there are other versions (free and paid) of the app, so this software could be used widely within an office environment.

There is also a free version of CamScanner that will produce PDF and JPG output. There are a number of in-app purchases from One page ($0.99) to CamScanner Premium ($49.99): a yearly subscription model that includes other services ($4.99/month).

My limited requirements do not need more than an occasional scan and I am able to transfer and use output fairly easily with this. What I saw with this app showed me that this is a capable application that is quite easy to use, once the initial screens are passed. I now have a choice of three: Genius Scan - PDF Scanner; My Scans; and CamScanner+.

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand where he is also Assistant Dean. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. He is now continuing that in the Bangkok Post supplement, Life.



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