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Smile Software is a name familiar to Mac users for Acrobat-style productivity tools like PDFpen, which recently made the leap to iOS. Now the company is back with a companion app for scanning documents and converting text to editable format, but it doesn’t yet deliver on either front.
PDFpen Scan+ is similar to Readdle’s Scanner Pro, which allows an iOS device's camera to be used as a portable scanner. Snapped documents can be cropped (automatic or manual), enhanced, and saved as color, black-and-white, or grayscale PDF files, and then shared in a variety of ways. Smile has gone the extra mile by adding optical character recognition (OCR), which is an optional step after the file is saved. This task takes several minutes to perform, only to produce unformatted text that has to be copied and pasted into another app. We found the OCR results to be wildly inaccurate in most cases, however.
The app performs better as a scanner, although edge detection for automatic cropping tended to be hit or miss, even with a white piece of paper on a dark background. Thankfully, it’s easy enough to adjust edges using just a finger, and the app guides users through the process. Aside from the option to install additional OCR languages, PDFpen Scan+ features a single setting for turning iCloud backup on or off. This allows the universal app to sync scanned documents between multiple devices, while individual files can be shared via email, other apps, WebDAV, FTP, or popular cloud services including Dropbox, Evernote, Google Drive, and Box.
We had high hopes for PDFpen Scan+, but until some of these issues are addressed, we’d have to recommend Scanner Pro as a more robust mobile scanner, along with Pixter Scanner OCR, which more reliably produces plain-text OCR that can actually be saved within the app for later use.
The bottom line. PDFpen Scan+ has promise, but it’s lacking better control over how files are saved and the OCR isn’t yet accurate enough to be useful.
iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad running iOS 6.0 or later
Mobile scanning and OCR in one app. Wide range of sharing options. Scanned documents can be saved in color, black and white, or grayscale.
Inaccurate OCR. Automatic edge detection is hit or miss. Unformatted text can only be copied and pasted into other apps.