As long as Apple’s iPhone has a capable camera, users have struggled with using the device as a quick way to digitize documents and pretty much everything around them. Today Microsoft finally answered the question of how to digitize documents on your iPhone with a new dedicated app called Office Lens.
Microsoft announced the new Office Lens application for iPhone and devices running Google’s Android operating system on its site today. Office Blog. The app is already available in the Windows Phone Store for Lumia and other devices running the operating system, but it wasn’t among the apps available when Microsoft rolled out free Microsoft Office apps to Android and iPhone users last year.
In a world where everything is digitized, many situations still require dealing with real notes. Office Lens is the solution. The free app uses the iPhone’s rear-facing camera to take a quick snapshot of any document with clear, legible text on it.
If that was the only feature of the app, it wouldn’t be any better than the other bottom bar scanning apps available in the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store. Office Lens crops the image around the document and searches what’s left of the document for any text. It then converts what it sees in the text directly into a digital notebook in Microsoft’s OneNote app. Depending on your settings, it also creates a Word document in Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage utility. Microsoft says applications use OCR, or Optical Character Recognition, to detect what’s in the document itself.
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Beyond documents, Office Lens is incredibly useful for saving travel receipts and throwing away business cards that people hand out at events. It’s also a very handy way to avoid having to fax anything. Office Lens is the perfect complement to OneNote, as it also allows users to scan whiteboards with text and convert them into documents. This is perfect for anyone using OneNote as a complete laptop replacement on an iPad, Surface Pro 3, or a device running Android. iPhone users just need to change the dial under the viewfinder on their screen. Office Lens takes care of the rest. In some cases, the te app manages the key on its own.
Microsoft’s free iPhone and Android versions of Office Lens will certainly get Windows Phone users weird looks, but it’s definitely the right decision. iPhone users in particular are always looking for a way to dispose of their documents with a scanning app.
Office Lens is the perfect complement to OneNote, available on iPhone and Android. Unlocking this functionality for everyone is bringing more people closer to OneNote and OneDrive and using more Microsoft products. As Microsoft’s products are better on their platform, the company is betting that it will see an increase in people wanting to experience OneNote, OneDrive, and Office on Windows, where it’s better integrated. Microsoft has relatively recently updated its Windows Phone Office Lens app with automatic mode switching for whiteboards and documents.
To read: Free Office Coming for iPhone, iPad and Android
Office Lens is seamlessly available on the iTunes App Store today. However, the same is not true for Android devices. Users must join the Office Lens Android Preview community on Google’s Google+ social network and click Become a Tester in the About area. Microsoft says that the version of Office Lens Android users get today is actually a preview of the final app. Microsoft did not say when Android users can expect the final release of OneNote for Android.