7 Best OCR Apps for Android: Scan and Convert Images to Text

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Mobile cameras have served as scanning instruments ever since resolutions have been sufficiently high to get printed characters legible. To which end, we discussed the 7 best photo scanning apps for Android. The next logical step was optical character recognition (OCR). OCR is giving your PC the capacity to scan and also convert images to text. Here is our review of the 7 best OCR apps for Android.

How we tested them

These apps were tested on a Samsung Galaxy S8 running Android 7.0. For consistency, we captured the cover of The Lord of The Rings, a random page from the same book (page 200 is the place we landed) and a random page from the graphic novel “The Killing Joke”. We took these photos with the default camera app and ran our OCR apps on those images. These were our findings.

1. Text Scanner [OCR] might actually be the best OCR app of all-time

text scanner OCR

Text Scanner [OCR] comes with its own camera app, but it does not force you to use it exclusively. You can simply load an image from your photo gallery. The best part that grabs us about Text Scanner [OCR ] is that it just picks up the image straightaway and scans it, it doesn’t require that you identify the text area, it actually figures out that itself and it does not go wrong while doing it.

It simply picks up the text with complete accuracy (not a single comma out of place), it didn’t have any difficulty understanding the contents of the cover and it surprisingly picked up just the text box from the speech bubble from the graphic novel with just a handful of mistakes. Other apps we tried mistook some of the artwork as text and threw in random letters all over. However, The Text Scanner [OCR] app does the majority of this precisely and does not ask you any questions. No other app we tried was this accurate.

2. Office Lens stands its ground with the best

microsoft office lens

Office Lens, originating from a giant like Microsoft was supposed to do great things, and it does. This is a serious contender for one of the best OCR solutions ever. Granted it didn’t even try to identify text from the graphic novel or the cover, but it more than compensated for it with the book scan. It took each element of that page and scanned it completely. Any item it couldn’t scan correctly was included as an image so you know exactly where to fix things up. The outcome is a completely formatted document that requires perhaps an edit or two, but generally ready to edit as-scanned. Moreover, you can export the scan into an app. It works better with Microsoft’s applications, like MS Word or OneNote, but that also works pretty smoothly on others.

3. OCR Text Scanner Also delivers on promise

OCR Text Scanner app claims to have a scan accuracy of about 95%-100%, a claim we have only observed pan out with Text Scanner [OCR]. However, OCR Text Scanner gets quite close delivering on that promise. It only scanned a couple of words from the book’s title, forgetting the ones in large print. You need to manually pick the language and also the target scan region. Each time you scan you will first have to go over an ad (that you can skip after 5 seconds). With all that the page converted was very precise and accurate (with a rarely missed word all over). The comic book page was recognizable also. The best part of OCR Text Scanner is that you can even edit the document after the scan to correct any mistakes or include any other information (as needed) and all results are stored as .txt files.

4. OCR Pro

OCR Pro

OCR Pro is a Limited app, in that it can’t read from a gallery. It requires taking pictures of anything you’d want to scan. That implies you will have to take pictures at run-time to make the best use of this. The scans itself were splendidly accurate, at least for text. In our experience, the ability to correctly scan a document is utmost for an OCR app, but a close second is the ability to scan a picture from the gallery. This limits this app’s usability, however, that is the trade-off for precision here.

5. Google Goggles both disappoints and surprises

google goggles

Google Goggles is supposed to be Google’s enhancement to the world. Point that app at a building and it will be able to tell you everything the internet knows about it. Same also goes with books and other common objects. It makes sense that it will serve as the best OCR solution out on the play store. However, that is not what our tests concluded. Google Goggles simply launches into a camera interface, if you actually want to scan an older document, it is somewhat of a trek. Tap on the Settings Button (at the lower right) > Gallery Button to access your gallery.

We started the test with the regular page. After observing the results one can tell that it was trying to understand the language of the page as opposed than actually recognize all of the characters individually. In doing as such it cluttered the scan quite badly. Just as we were doubting its capabilities, it not only scanned and recognized the text on the book cover, it additionally gave us the internet resources on Lord of the Rings. That, we think, was image processing to recognize the book and trying to say what it was. This is not precisely optical character recognition, but it gets results. Likewise, when we scanned the page from “The Killing Joke”. It simply posted everything about the graphic novel on the internet but did not scan the text.

As an exclusively OCR app, Google Goggles failed on many levels, in any case, as a scanner, it went above and beyond.

6. Image to Text Scanner app overpromises and also underdelivers

image to scan

Image to Text Scanner app is one of the few OCR apps that actually shows the scanned page juxtaposed with the results. You don’t expect it will be an important feature until you actually experience it and now you wish every OCR Scanner app offered the same feature. This is the point at which the app inevitably gets something wrong, you can quickly compare without having to leave the screen. The scan itself was surprisingly accurate. It recognized the Lord of the Rings cover accurately, Although it cast doubts on who wrote it. It didn’t fare well against the graphic novel, however, it made up for itself with an accurate scan of the actual page.

7. Text Fairy is quite honest about its Performance

Text Fairy

Text Fairy is a very polite and upfront app. It instantly starts off with an apology that it can’t perfectly scan handwritten content as well as “ornate or colorful letters”. Unlike the other listed apps, Text Fairy uses the system’s default camera app.

At the first launch, it will ask you to download your required language packs. Once the scan is complete, you will be required to highlight the area containing the text. You then need to define if you are actually scanning one or two columns text and it takes a couple of seconds to go through the thing. Toward the end of it, it gives you an extremely accurate evaluation of how the scan went and where the app ran into issues. When we concluded our tests it was quite great with regular black on white printing, however, it did not shine with the graphic novel.

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