CamScanner for iOS

If you ask any book publisher, library or archivist, they will tell you decisively: Paper is out.

Documents of all kinds are going digital. In fact, digitizing paper documents is already a multi-million dollar industry. Large, small, public, and private companies are all trading in their archaic paper-based filing systems for database-driven digital equivalents.

But, there didn’t seem to be a personal solution for digitizing documents. There are plenty of “syncing” services and “cloud based” accounts that can help an individual organize files that are already digital, but has anyone come up with a quick, easy way to transform paper docs into digital form? Do I really need a giant scanner, drivers and a desktop computer to digitize something as small and basic as a receipt, business card or 1-pager?

Thanks to CamScanner — no, you don’t.

With CamScanner’s pocket-sized solution, you can digitize your personal or work documents with many of the same robust features as expensive, high-end scanning software. CamScanner makes brilliant use of the camera and software capabilities of your iOS device to image, adjust, scan, and send your paper-based documents with a streamlined step-by-step process.

Seriously, this app is sweet.

Digitizing With CamScanner

CamScanner’s process is very simple. In the example below, I take a paper receipt from the local Apple store and end up with a sharp, searchable PDF in about 20 seconds.

Step 1 is to simply take a picture of the entire paper document. It helps to make sure your picture is not crooked or dimly-lit, but amazingly, CamScanner can correct crookedness and adjust the brightness and contrast of your document in later steps. The important part it step 1 is to make sure you capture the complete document — including all four corners in the photo.

Step 1 of scanning a CamScanner document

Step 1 : Imaging a CamScanner document

Once the photo of the document is taken, CamScanner allows you to rotate the document and identify the corners and edges. CamScanner does a very good job of guessing the correct orientation, and further adjustments can be made easily with your fingertips.

Step 2 of scanning a CamScanner document

Step 2: Straightening a CamScanner document

Then, you have an opportunity to adjust the brightness and contrast of the document. Documents taken in dim light can be “brightened” and hard-to-read documents can have their contrasted increased to bring better clarity and readability.

Step 3 of scanning a CamScanner document

Step 3 of scanning a CamScanner document

Repeat this process for each page. Once you’re finished, your document becomes a PDF and is stored within the CamScanner app, where it can be synced with a variety of services (DropBox, Evernote, etc.), emailed or even faxed. (The fax feature incurs a small fee, but having a fax machine in your pocket is pretty impressive.)

Step 4 of scanning a CamScanner document

Step 4 of scanning a CamScanner document

Why Not Just Take A Normal Picture?

Some iOS owners may point out that you can already take a picture of a document with an iPhone, iPad or iPod. But CamScanner’s ease of use, it’s compatibility with popular file storage services and its multi-page and fax capabilities make it well worth the modest $5 price tag.

One robust technical feature of CamScanner involves Optical Character Recognition (OCR). This technology — which is usually reserved for high-end industrial document scanning services — enables CamScanner to recognize the words within the document and allow for easy keyword searching. In other words, it “reads” the document, and includes the information that it “read” so that when you search your document for words such as “receipt,” “contract” or “proposal,” it will show you exactly where those words appear.

CamScanner+ and CamScanner Pro

The Apple store currently has two CamScanner apps: CamScanner+ and CamScanner Pro. After careful comparison, it looks like there’s no discernible difference between the two: They have the same price, release date, version number and features. They also have similar raving reviews within iTunes.

There are new apps coming out every day, but CamScanner is a truly impressive and exceptional newcomer. The potential for saved time, easy document sharing, paperless organization and faxing from your pocket make it one of the best in iOS.