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With each passing year, the need for a computer diminishes as enterprising developers contribute additional superpowers to iOS devices. One of the latest to arrive on the iPhone is optical character recognition (OCR), courtesy of Pixter Scanner. While there are plenty of solutions for turning an iPhone into a mobile scanner, few allow captured text to be converted to editable text – let alone translate it into 70 different languages. Pixter Scanner OCR does just that, recognizing typewritten (and in some cases, even handwritten) text in 32 languages. In our tests, OCR worked quickly with nearly 100 percent accuracy, even with a variety of different type styles.
One thing you won’t get is text formatting: We attempted to OCR scan pages from a movie screenplay, and while the text itself was amazingly accurate, it was delivered smashed together in one continuous block with no paragraph or line breaks. To be fair, though, desktop-class OCR software also struggles with formatting. You will need a decent Internet connection (Wi-Fi or cellular) to perform OCR or translation, which somewhat limits its utility when traveling in a foreign country, but the app is otherwise quite useful for on-the-go translations.
Pixter Scanner makes it a snap to share OCR scanned text to just about any app you’d like. PDF and Word export options are included, but they rely on third-party apps – you won’t be able to actually view these files in Pixter itself. The app keeps a log of already converted text, with the option to retain original snapshots with or without cropping. We did experience occasional lags with Pixter, most notably tapping to start OCR – a pause just long enough to make us think it had been ignored. More complex languages like Chinese or Japanese aren’t recognized, although supported sources can translate to both.
The bottom line. With a decent Internet connection, Pixter Scanner OCR is great for grabbing bits of editable text with a variety of different uses, including communication with others in foreign languages.
iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 5.0 or later
Fast, accurate mobile optical character recognition. Built-in cropping. Wide range of translation and sharing options.
OCR and translation requires Internet access. Recognition ignores page formatting. No adjustments for perspective or rotation. Exported PDF or Word files require supported app to view/edit. No native iPad support.