Rare Book Monthly

Articles - March - 2012 Issue

Converting image to text, mobile-style

Imt

Our winner

Where Textgrabber + Translator and Image to Text – OCR differ is the mechanism for delivering the converted text. ABBYY’s Textgrabber does the character recognition directly on the phone, and immediately offers the text. One then has many options for moving it: email, text-message, and Facebook are three of the eight options. Image to Text, on the other hand, functions completely differently. Once a photo has been taken or selected, the user is presented with two options: Send by E-Mail or Send to Evernote (Evernote is a free note taking and organizing app for smartphones and computers). No matter which option is chosen, there is about a 30 second delay until you receive the converted text. There is also some awkwardness when choosing the email option as it presents you with a new email window where you must type in the recipient’s email address and send what appears to be a blank email (the subject is filled in by Image to Text). I give Textgrabber the advantage here as it offers more choices for sharing/moving the text, as well as keeping the entire process more streamlined and neat inside the app.

None of this is important if the quality of the conversion is poor, however. There’s no point to running OCR if you still have to go back and edit every other word. I went into this expecting the paid app to be significantly more effective than the free alternative. I was wrong. With identical situations replicated between two phones, Image to Text – OCR actually proved to be more accurate overall, albeit by a minor margin. Another bonus for Image to Text was that the emailed scans remained formatted similarly to how the actual photograph looked. Textgrabber maintained the formatting on the phone itself, but when the text is sent elsewhere, it becomes a solid block of text. Overall, for both conversion quality and converted text usefulness, Image to Text wins.

So why is this article featured in AE Monthly? The next time you’re at a book fair, instead of writing down notes of everything you’re interested in, why not snap a picture of the item as well as the seller’s business card? Or, if you’re more into the research side of the field, OCR the texts you need to cite and save yourself some time not retyping word for word. Books and technology aren’t peas in a pod, but there’s no reason not to take advantage when they work together.

A photograph of the text used for this review is provided, as well as links to the original plain text conversion files produced by the apps:
iPhone 4S Image to Text - OCR
iPhone 4 Image to Text - OCR
iPhone 4S Textgrabber + Translator
iPhone 4 Textgrabber + Translator

To download Ricoh Innovation’s Image to Text – OCR, visit this link on your iPhone or synced computer.

To buy ABBYY’s Textgrabber + Translator, visit this link on your iPhone or synced computer.


Posted On: 2012-03-01 00:00
User Name: Heritage

Is there no such app for Androids?


Rare Book Monthly

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