Sunday, July 8, 2012

Genius Scan for iOS Review

Many, many years ago I packed up all of my worldly possessions into my Honda Civic and headed back home on a long and winding road trip from Los Angeles back to Vancouver. The car was so weighed down that it was almost sitting on the rear shock absorbers... driving down the highway with that nose-high tail-low stance of the classic  60's muscles cars. The thing was, I didn't have very many personal possessions, the thing that was weighing down the car was all of the notes and books that I can accumulated throughout professional school.

Genius Scan on iPhone
This was some time ago, back when digital storage meant painstakingly laying out a page at a time on a flat bed scanner. It wasn't everybody who had one back then, but I searched high and low for somebody willing to lend me one so that I could ditch the paper and shove everything onto one CD-Rom. Never mind that the actual act of scanning everything would have taken a month to do, I nonetheless could not find one before I had to leave.

How the times have changed.

Everything has a camera on it, and if I were in school, I'd see little point to photocopying or scanning. Not everybody can live a paperless life, but life is much easier with out in many respects. Just the other day I had to return to my Alma Mata to do some library research, and without thinking, I loaded a brand new copy/print card from the dispensing machine. I never used it once the whole day I was there. Everything is online now, and everything comes in PDF form... if I hadn't mindlessly defaulted back to my school days I would have remembered that.

Which brings us to Genius Scan. It's a great app. If I had it all those years ago, I would have had a lighter nimbler car to fling down the Pacific Coast Highway. Glowing reviews all around for this app. And yet, it's profoundly simple. It's really no more than a camera app with a tiny bit of functionality added to it, but the functionality makes all of the difference. The ability to save a picture directly to PDF without monkeying around with a third party converter is an incredible time saver. Just hover your phone over the document, take a picture, and let the app clean it up, and you're ready to go. And unlike taking a simple jpeg picture of the document, Genius scan can stitch together shots into multipage PDF documents.

The program includes some handy post-capturing edits, light conversion to black and white and perspective correction. This is what turns the app from being a camera app to a document app. Just taking a plain picture of a printed document creates a gritty-looking image that is more photograph than document... it's the little things like being able to enhance on the spot that make great apps great. The other great thing about the Genius Scan is it's connectivity. After you are done you have a number of options, but the free version mercifully gives you the ability to email the document to yourself. The paid version adds cloud connectivity through Dropbox, Evernote, etc.

So what you end up with is a portable, connected copy machine. It's a great convenience for all of those times that you have to sign and send forms back and forth. It basically makes you a more productive person because you can finish the paperwork and send it off right away with a minimum of fuss, letting you get on with other things. This app is currently available for iOs, Android and Windows phone. In my experience, it pairs well with the modern phone camera on the iPhone 4s or Galaxy S III, and produces output that is similar to any lower end mass market scanner/fax machine. (See this post regarding the quality of the iPhone 4s camera: iPhone 4s Camera Review ). However, as of the date of this blog entry, the Android version inexplicably does not support camera flash as of yet. I'm sure this will change soon, as the flash is indispensable in producing serviceable documents... when you've got a your phone and hand hovering above the printed page, it tends to block out the light.

I'm quite fond of apps like this, where a simple everyday task is made easier and simpler by combining multiple steps into one package. (Case in point, those of you with the Weather Network app... how many of you turn on the TV to catch the weather forecast anymore?) In one fell swoop, you can cut out a trip to the scanner, going back to your computer to clean up the image in post processing, and then attaching the document in your email client to send off. Literally, all of that in one condensed application. It's...well.... the app name is descriptive, if a little boastful. 

Grizzly Labs - The Developer

Genius Scan on iTunes

Genius Scan on Google Play

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