I downloaded ocrNow! Lite developed by WordCraft International Limited, with a good amount of skepticism. It’s an app that is designed to convert hardcopy text into a PDF or text doc, using the iPhone’s camera for optical character recognition.
I was skeptical because I’ve looked at a couple of apps with OCR-like features and they haven’t worked particularly well.
I tried Snabiz, from Netwalk, a while back, for example. That one is designed to OCR business cards. It’s a great idea but it didn’t work all that well for me. Netwalk said I should have used an adapter lens for best results.
ocrNow! Lite has you begin by entering your email address, which is where you’ll send your images for OCR output, via Wordcraft International Limited Web site and forward them to your email account and store on your desktop.
The next step is to sign up to access the ocrNow! server. You’ll know the sign up is successful when you receive a response inquiring whether you would like to receive messages about ocrNow! services. I chose No.
Tap the Launch button and you’ll see a step-by-step illustration: Photograph a page, choose to have it converted to PDF or text and the email the output to yourself.
I tapped the Plus icon in the upper right corner, snapped a photo of a document, gave it a name and emailed it to myself as a PDF. The photo image seemed too dark but that’s normal, the developer explains on its Tips page.
What I received were two PDF files. One was a replica of the image I took and the second contained my output. I had the option of receiving only the PDF with the converted output.
The results with ocrNow! Lite were mixed to say the least: About half the words were misinterpreted. I then stepped up my tests and tried ocrNow! Lite in a variety of lighting conditions and with different documents.
What it comes down to is the text you photograph needs to be larger than what you’ll find in most ordinary docs; there should be excellent contrast between the text and page it’s printed on; and you should use very good lighting. Then ocrNow! will work flawlessly.
I’m a bit less skeptical now, but far from convinced. I just don’t think the iPhone’s built-in camera is really up to the task. It’s just not sharp enough. ocrNow! Lite doesn’t work well with 10 or 12 point type, so its uses are limited for me because I can't use it reliably with normal type.
You might have better luck. I tried ocrNow! Lite, which is free. There’s also an ocrNow! “Pro” version — for $13.99 — capable of saving more than 10 pages, which is the limit for the ocrNow! Lite.