When doo GmbH launched Scanbot back in April, we must admit that we were skeptical. Skeptical that it could 1) make a dent in the crowded scanner app market. And 2) that it could dethrone our favorite scanner app Scanner Pro by Readdle. Yet Scanbot started making waves across the iOS community for its simple and attractive interface. Then in June doo updated Scanbot with iPad support along with QR code recognition and our interest was peaked yet again. Could Scanbot be onto something? It continued to push and shove it’s way through the app market with new features. Then this month, the big update hit – Scanbot Pro. Along with Hazel-like smart naming capabilities, Scanbot Pro offers optical character recognition (OCR) via a one-time In-App Purchase (IAP). This feature is particularly huge as few apps offer such support. We’ll get into why this is a big deal. But first, let’s take a look at some of the basic features.
When opened, Scanbot pops right into camera mode ready to scan whatever document you have in mind. Point your iPhone or iPad at the paper and watch Scanbot auto-focus for the best clarity. In my testing I found that I had to move closer or farther away from the paper to trigger autofocus again. Scanbot will also let you know if your surroundings are too dark. Press the capture botton and the app will try it’s best to crop to the edges of the paper. If not though, don’t worry as the next screen will allow you to manually crop with an easy magnified edge-finder tool. Additionally, on this review screen you can set a filter such as color, black and white, or gray-scale. At the top of the screen you can rename the file and rotation options are available below. If you’d like to add a page, tap the upper left corner and you’ll be returned to camera mode. Or if you’re finished, tap Save in the upper right and you’ll be taken to Scanbot’s main document screen.
On this main screen you’ll see all your scans listed in a stack with thumbnail previews to the left. Dragging right on any scan reveals the share options. Here you can mail and even iMessage the PDF. Or choose to open it in another app. Swiping left will delete the scan. Press and hold a scan to upload it to cloud storage services like Dropbox, Evernote, or Google Drive. Scanbot will also automatically upload every scan you take to cloud storage if you so please. This can be enabled in settings. Lastly, if you have OCR enabled (Pro only) this main screen is where you’ll see those scans processing the text. Now, let’s talk more about OCR.
Have you ever noticed that your scanned documents are a little lifeless? What I mean is you can’t select text which, in turn, means you can’t highlight, search for, or copy text either. Simply put, OCR is a function that will bring flat scans to life. This technology is really cool because it allows scans to be read, then processed, and lastly it embeds digital text into the file. Scanbot Pro does this all almost effortlessly. Head on over to the settings menu and you’ll find Text Recognition (OCR). Under that item resides multiple language support. With OCR toggled on, take a scan your document and Scanbot will process the text automatically in the background. This way you’ll be able to scan more documents while you wait. On our iPhone 4s we did experience multiple crashes when OCRing Chinese documents. I do hope doo tweaks this over time.
Once OCR is processed on the main screen, tap on the scan to open it in full view. In this view you can rename, share, upload, delete, and edit it. Editing tools include freehand highlighting, notes, and signatures. Edited documents will be re-saved to the cloud. These are nice tools, but we prefer sending the OCR’ed scans to other more versatile apps like PDF Expert.
Custom naming of files is another Pro feature. If you’ve ever used Hazel on the Mac, you know how cool automating your file names can be. Scanbot Pro looks to offer similar functionality through Smart File Naming. Under settings you can select the default name of your scans. Pick from different variables like year, month, and day to automatically include these in your scan’s name. This is a cool feature to organize everything. However, my current workflow uploads scans to Dropbox and then naming takes place on my Mac with the aforementioned Hazel. Kudos to doo for adding this feature though.
The team behind Scanbot continues to wow us with their continual updates. They’ve added some amazing features to the already attractive app. Now with OCR, Scanbot has become our number one choice as the best scanning app for iPhone and iPad. If you haven’t checked it out yet, now’s the time. And who knows what doo GmbH has up their sleeve for the next update!