If PDF scanning apps were fish, the iTunes market would be an ocean teeming with life. But finding an iPhone app that will go beyond the basic ability to convert a snapshot to PDF can be a time consuming prospect, especially for users looking for a free app. The recently released smartSCAN Mobile, which comes courtesy of Fidelity National Title Group, meets the no-cost criteria and even takes it a few steps further by including optical character recognition (OCR) and other handy features.
While the app doesn’t exactly earn bonus points for sleek design, it hits the mark dead-on as far as ease of use and versatility are concerned. To create a new document, the user simply taps the camera icon and chooses between taking a picture or importing an existing image from the iPhone’s internal memory.
Once the image is captured or retrieved, an on-screen tool pops up to allow easy tap-and-drag image cropping. To minimize file size, the app automatically converts the image to black and white but also leaves the option to store a full color version. Color image cleanup is made possible through brightness, contrast and saturation controls, and full-range image rotation ensures scans are saved in an accurate orientation. The inclusion of a multi-color Touchscreen pen/marker tool is a nice touch too, as is the ability to orient the document to a variety of sizes, including business card dimensions.
Finalized documents are saved to PDF and stored in a document library that can be arranged into subfolders. From there, sharing options include emailing as PDF, emailing as a searchable PDF, or emailing as JPEG. Documents can also be opened in other third-party PDF readers, saved to the iPhone’s camera roll, or sent to a linked printer.
All of this ranks pretty high on the nifty scale, but where smartSCAN really sets itself apart is in its ability to scan multiple images as one document, merge existing documents into one, and add additional images to an existing document. Also of note is the inclusion of OCR software, which recognizes the characters in a document and converts them to .txt in the user’s choice of either English or Spanish.
This can be done for both a fragment of a document or the entire thing, but unfortunately, the OCR tech’s accuracy varied in testing. A few kinks are to be expected, though, considering smartSCAN has only been on the iTunes market for less than two months.
All in all, we strongly recommend smartSCAN to those in need of a versatile, high-functioning scanning app that also just so happens to be free. It’s available now in the iOS App Store.