May 11, 2016

Evernote finally lets you scan documents, business cards, and whiteboards from your Android phone

This week, Evernote came to my rescue. It has updated its flagship Android app to include the same scanning functionality as Scannable.

BYPranav Dixit

I love my iPhone. Unfortunately, it took a nasty spill a couple of weeks back and landed — thwack! — face down on the hard, tiled floor of my living room. The good news: the screen didn’t crack. The bad news: parts of the screen no longer respond to touch, which means I can type, but the backspace button doesn’t work; I can launch the camera app, but the shutter button doesn’t work; and I can see notifications on the lock screen, but I can’t swipe them away. The fallout of this has been that I have been forced to switch to an Android phone that was lying around the house because I didn’t want to pay Apple the arm and leg it costs to repair an out-of-warranty iPhone.
Living with Android has been surprisingly easy, but there’s one app that I used on the iPhone that I sorely missed: Evernote’s Scannable. Evernote, which makes the eponymous note-taking app, released Scannable more than a year ago on iPhone, and I’ve been using it all year long to save copies of important documents like my power bills, rent agreements, office contracts, and more to my Evernote account.
Apps that let you scan and digitise physical documents have been steadily growing over the last few years as the cameras in our smartphones get better and better. The idea is simple: you point your phone at any piece of paper that you want a digital copy of, and the app intelligently analyses its borders, adjusts brightness and contrast ratios to make any text on the document readable, and saves a “scan” of the image, as if you put it in a flatbed scanner. You can usually save your scanned document within the app, but most of them also let you email it to yourself or save it to your Google Drive or Dropbox.
On my new Android phone, I’ve been using Office Lens, a scanning app from Microsoft, to digitise physical documents, but I haven’t had great results with it: scanning is slow, and documents are often unreadable unless they are scanned in perfect lightning conditions.
This week, Evernote came to my rescue. No, it didn’t bring Scannable to Android. Instead, it updated its flagship Android app to include the same scanning functionality as Scannable.

The best part about Evernote’s new scanning functionality is that you can batch-scan multiple documents.

If you point your phone at a document, whiteboard or a business card, the redesigned camera in Evernote’s updated app now automatically detects the size and shape, calibrates colour and contrast, and then saves a scan automatically to a special gallery. The best part is that you can batch-scan multiple objects without going back and forth between the camera and the gallery — handy for scanning that box of business cards you’ve been meaning to sort through for weeks.
I tried scanning everything within reach (business cards, my tax returns, and my diving license among other assorted papers), and I was impressed by the speed and the quality of the digitised images.
Once you’re done scanning, Evernote allows you to save your it as a colour or a black and white image (pro tip: text-heavy documents are way more readable if you save them as black and white) or directly export it out as a PDF.
All scans are safely stored in Evernote, and you can stow them away in separate Notebooks if you want (I have an Evernote Notebook called Bills, for instance, where all my bills go).
If you’re actually pay for Evernote Premium, by the way, Evernote will actually read the text of your business cards and let you save names, email addresses and phone numbers directly to your phone’s address book. Sweet!

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Pranav Dixit is a writer of FactorDaily.