Today is my 150th Review. Yes I really did manage to write one review every day for 150 days which is not something I thought I would last at but to celebrate I am going to review some Optical Character Recognition (OCR) Apps.
I was recently asked for advice on OCR Apps and although I had tried some out I had never really needed one so never paid much attention. In today’s digital age so much work is saved in a digital format but many of us still have old paper copies and there is no better time than now to turn these digital.
The trick in finding a good OCR App is to find one that will recognise the characters and let you edit the script. Without this feature you may as well just use a scanner. So I searched the App store and tried a bunch of OCR Apps. For each App I tried two tests one with handwriting and a second with typed text. This is what I found.
The first App I tried was OCR Scanner by Smart Mobile Software and I tried it because it was free. This App works off credits so you can try it for free 5 times a day. After that it is 89cent for 30 credits or €2.69 for unlimited credits. The test showed that the handwritten example resulted in symbols and nothing much more than *+_+_(*()&^ type deal. Not very useful right? For the typed text it was pretty good it was about 90% accurate. The one issue is that the formatting is non existent so you would have to put time into redoing that after. Once the text is converted you can then copy it to a clip board or send by email. There is also an option to translate the text into another language. I tried to translate English to Spanish and to French and it didn’t work at all. The translation is a waste of time. I don’t know why they have it as a feature when it doesn’t work. Also my attempts to translate used up two credits for nothing. Overall if your looking for something free and are willing to reformat the text then it is a good enough option. Personally I wouldn’t have the patience or time.
Download from HERE
Image to Text
The next App I tried was Image to text by MadLove . Again I tried this because it was free. I tried to take a photo and the ads blocked the button so I couldn’t then when I tried to add an image from my camera roll there was again no result. And this is where the review ends. Neither option worked so basically the App didn’t work so don’t bother your time with it for now. They may decided to fix it in the future and if that happens it can be downloaded from HERE
Image to Text – OCR
The next App I tried was Image to Text – OCR by Ricoh Innovations. Again this App was free and again an absolute waste of time. All the App does is take a picture of the text and makes no attempt to convert it. It can be downloaded HERE. but doesn’t do what it claims it should be able to if I wanted to take a photo I could just use my inbuilt iOS camera.
After the frustrations of the free Apps I decided to give some paid Apps a try and this is when I tried OCR Kit by ExactCODE. This App costs €2.69 and worked with a plain piece of text which featured no bolds or italics but when confronted with handwritten or wiki pedia style text it produced muddled results. I was disappointed by this as at first with the positive plain text result I was hopeful. The camera feature also failed. I was disappointed by this App as in the end the result was pretty much the same as what I got for free in OCR Scanner. The App can be downloaded from HERE
The next App I tried was Prizmo by Creaceed. Again this was a paid App and for €4.49 you got more for your money than just an OCR App. Before we get to the OCR I would like to point out that the App also features a great text to speech function as well as image editing and cloud integration. The OCR feature worked very well on the plain text image and even kept the formatting which up until now no Apps had succeeded to do. The handwriting translation failed miserably I am afraid and the wiki formatted text worked but with varied accuracy. Overall I would compare it to OCR scanner in that both worked ok on the plain text but failed on the wiki text and handwriting. For the added features the App is worth it but a reliable OCR translator it is not. It can be downloaded from HERE
Nearing the end of my attempts and ready to give up I tried Text Grabber by ABBYY which costs €4.49. At this stage I really wasn’t expected much but was surprised when the App recognised the plain text without faults and the wiki text with minor errors. This was a big step forward from what I had been seeing. Again it failed the hand-writing image which got me wondering if maybe it was the image I was using so tried a different one but it failed again. So I think I may have to give up on finding an accurate handwriting translator but at least it can recognise different types of typed text and you can edit the texts in App. An added bonus is that the translator also works! I again tried French and Spanish and they both seemed to work although I am fluent in neither so accuracy may not be 100%. All in all I think we may have a winner here. To download the App you can visit HERE
Text from Image
The final App I tried was Text from Image by Ngo Lien. Again this App was a paid one and cost 89cent. Already knowing that Text Grabber is the winner of plain and wiki text I decided to go straight for the handwriting and it was a downright fail situation again. I can’t say I was surprised at this stage. The real surprise however came when I tried the plain and wiki texts and the App froze upon being confronted with either I guess all that can be said is another one bites the dust! If you want an App that doesn’t like hard work and freezes upon seeing it you can download it from HERE
all in all I have to say that I have given these Apps a good chance to prove themselves and tried a varied selection from free to what I would consider expensive at €4.49 and none of them lived up to the full challenge. If you are working with text then Text Grabber is the definite winner there but not one of these 6 Apps can win out against the handwritten text. There may be undiscovered Apps out there but from this sampling the OCR feature does not appear to be fully developed so if there are any developers out there I have found a niche in the market now try and fill it ! If anyone does find a good one you can contact me here or tweet @MirCWalsh
Featured image from Text Grabber