It’s no secret to anyone who knows me – I love gadgets, especially multi-purpose gadgets! And, as most people know, a smartphone is the ultimate multi-purpose gadget. My iPhone is my entertainment centre; it keeps me on schedule (sort-of); it’s my handheld GPS; it helps me to tune my musical instruments… really, my list could go on for pages. Oh, and of course, it keeps me connected 24/7 to the Internet Collective. Yes, “resistance is [indeed] futile…” - at least for me.
Despite the lengthy list of things I use this fabulous gadget for, one thing I hadn’t thought about is using it as a portable scanner. Yet my need for one comes up constantly. Whether I’m getting a recipe from a friend, or getting a quick scan of a graph or a page of text at work – there’s no end to the number of times I’ve wished I had a pocket scanner. Well, of course, I should have realized: “There’s an App for that!”
I’ve tried a few now, so I thought I’d show you some examples in case you’re interested in having a scanner in your pocket, too. You can use these on an iPhone or an iPad – but I’ve actually found it a little easier to get a clear image with my iPhone, since it’s lighter and thus easier to hold steady. I’m sure there are parallel products for other smartphone platforms, as well.
TurbonScan by Pixoft ($1.99)
I found out about this first one from my colleague at work, Perry, who is our resident guru of all things cool and gadgety. It did cost me 2 bucks but I definitely feel that I’ve gotten my money’s worth out of it. You have the option to take one photo or 3 (I always take 3) and you can scan documents and photos in color or black and white, and save them as PDFs, JPGs, or PNGs (or to your camera roll). As with most Apps of this type, you get the opportunity to stretch and scale the scanned area – which corrects for any skew in the image. This is handy if your camera was not perfectly perpendicular to the photo or document when you took the picture(s).
Here below are a couple of examples. (To see a larger view of either – just click on the image.) The first is page 1 of my novel, “Defining Moments” (Doesn’t it just want it make you read more? ) The second is of a glossy photo I had in an old photo album.
TurboScan allows you to email your files or open them in other Apps like DropBox, iBooks, Evernote, etc. You can also AirPrint them, though I must admit - I haven’t tried that yet.
Genius Scan – PDF Scanner (Free)
Why pay for an App if there’s a free alternative, you ask? Well, this was the question that my friend, Julia, posed when I told her about TurboScan. So she did a bit of App surfing and came up with this. Genius Scan allows you to save your image as a JPG or a PDF, and it too lets you adjust the frame to remove most of the distortion.
Here below are the same two documents, scanned with this App. (Again, just click on the image to see a bigger view.)
If you compare the JPGs from these two Apps, you’ll see they’re pretty close. However, I find the TurboScan one a bit clearer – perhaps because it’s using 3 photos (though I’m not sure if it uses the best one, or some combination). However, I could simply be justifying the two bucks I spent. Genius Scan also lets you email the file or open it in other Apps – but to use its full capabilities you need to upgrade to Genius Scan+ for $2.99. So far I haven’t felt I was missing anything though – basically it’s just an extra keystroke to save the file in DropBox with the free version.
Overall, I find both TurboScan and Genius Scan really useful for scanning documents. I get the best results when I turn off the camera’s flash and place the subject matter on a table where’s there plenty of ambient light. Both Apps have features for tweaking the results but so far I haven’t spent too much time on that as the whole idea of this (for me at least) is to get something quickly. When it comes to scanning photos, I find it’s quicker to just use the iPhone’s camera directly and I always get equal or better results.
I found a few other scanning Apps – some were free or free “lite” versions – but I didn’t bother to include them here because they either produced poorer images or were just plain confusing to me.
If you’ve got any feedback or observations to add, please remember – comments are always welcome! Thanks for reading!