Mobile Research – Scanner Edition

Your mobile phone is quickly becoming an amazing scanner thanks to some very impressive scanning apps. Not only does it make scanning a breeze, it can save you money too. What makes phone scanning apps so useful?

  • Your phone is with you just about anywhere you go.
  • Scanning with your phone is both quick and easy.
  • It saves you money in copy costs.
  • Most scanning apps not only capture the image, but they “OCR” the text so the scanned text is both searchable and editable.
  • Most apps offer numerous saving and sharing options.
  • Some apps even have editing, annotation and signature options.

The free Evernote app – available for iOS, Android and Windows phones – allows you to photograph just about anything and attach it to a note. You will need a Plus or Premium account in order to search digitized content such as attached scans and image files.

Evernote offer a free scanning app for iOS phones called Scannable. It can save the scanned image as either a PDF or JPG file. Text files saved as PDFs are also searchable. While it is designed for use with Evernote, it’s also possible to save and share the scanned file to other apps/platforms.

Microsoft has a similar app called Office Lens which is available for Windows, Android and iOS phones. It will capture whiteboard contents as well as scan documents. From here, the scanned file can be sent to a number of Office apps – including OneNote. It is also free.

The CamScan app is also available for iOS, Android and Windows phones. It offers a free version so you can test it before upgrading to the full-featured version ($4.99/mo or $49.99/year). The full-featured version provides OCR capabilities and access to most of the cloud storage services along with editing and annotation options.

iOS users can also take advantage of the Scanner Pro app. Not only can it scan items, it has a Radar feature that will search your Photos library looking for photos of documents, receipts and whiteboards. It will then pull them into the Scanner Pro app so you can name, edit and route them to the appropriate storage/notes platform.

How easy is it to scan with your phone? Start by putting the item to be scanned onto a flat surface that is a contrasting color to the item. Here you see a book cover on a dark countertop.


ScannerPro1As you hold the phone over the item you’ll watch as the app finds the edges. Some apps show you an outline while others highlight the item. Once the edges are found, some apps (Scannable, for example) will automatically take the picture. This example is Scanner Pro and the user taps the white button at the bottom of the screen to capture the image. If you are scanning a multi-page document, once the first is done move to the next page and scan it. Keep going until all pages are scanned. The box with the number shows how many pages you have scanned.



The photos in this scan were washed out so I tapped the sun icon (top left) and used the sliders to improve the image. Notice the app recognized the item as black and white. Once it looks okay, I tap Done.



Now I have the option to edit, share or delete this image. I choose Share.



Scanner Pro automatically names each scan with a date/time stamp. Here I’ve changed the title in the Share screen. It shows my sharing options. The Open In item displays the standard iOS share sheet. For now, I’m going to tap the Upload menu item.


From here I have the option to send it to one of the cloud storage platforms or to my Evernote account. I tap the option I want and select the folder/notebook to save the image. That’s it. I’m done.


This example shows a simple one-page scan and doesn’t look into the many features this app provides. And, while the Scannable app was designed to work with Evernote, Scanner Pro works with a suite of iOS apps that make research on the go a whole lot easier. Once you are comfortable with the basics, take a look at the features for editing, sharing and saving your scans. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Why not test drive a scanner app on your phone and discover one of the joys of mobile research?


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