The ability to convert images to text is technically referred to as Optical Character Recognition (OCR). It can be really usefully whenever you need to convert a paper document into an editable, digital form. There aren’t a lot of OCR apps on android. Of the few that are available, Google Goggles is the popular one. It’s entirely free and does exactly what it promises – copy text from a picture and paste it elsewhere.

Main features

  • Google Goggles converts an image of text to actual text that you can copy, paste and manipulate in any other way.
  • It can translate the resulting text into many different languages.
  • It can recognize business cards and add them to your Android device as contacts. This whole process just takes a single tap.

Google Goggles cannot precisely be described as a perfect OCR app, but it delivers quite well. It converts any image into copyable text. You can then paste this text into a document editor, your email app, your note-taking app, SMS, or just about anything else. It easily recognizes business cards and automatically adds the details to your contacts. It’s also able to translate text into tons of languages.

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Other OCR Apps

There aren’t a lot of competitors to Google Goggles on the Android marketplace. The second best app that you can use to convert images to text is ScanDoc Document Reader. This scanner channels the resulting text into many apps on your device, with just a single click. Unlike Google Goggles, though, the app doesn’t perform well when it comes to doing everything it promises to do since there are occasional failures sending the text to apps such as Dropbox (at least for us). They’ll probably fix these bugs but it also isn’t free. The interface also doesn’t come across the board as intriguing. However, if you find that Google Goggles isn’t precisely what you want, ScanDoc might work for you.

Google Docs is also equipped with an OCR feature that works pretty much the same. The main advantage of the Google Docs OCR feature is that it recognizes line breaks, which makes the resulting text presentation much more enticing. But since it’s part of Google Docs and not really a specific-OCR app, it doesn’t have as much versatility as the other apps described above. It saves text directly to Google Docs, so if you need the text elsewhere, you’ll have to manually copy and paste.

There’s also a selection of document scanning apps available on Android, but these are not truly OCR. Rather than convert text on a picture into editable text, most of them turn it into a PDF document. That means you have no capacity to edit the text or use it with any of your other apps such as SMS and any document editors. However, this can be a useful functionality if you’re looking to capture details and email them in the form of PDF. CamScanner is just about the most awesome document scanner there is for now. You can send the resulting PDF to multiple apps, including Google Docs and Dropbox.

Another decent app is Document Scanner, which lets you use the OCR capabilities of Evernote and Google Docs, but isn’t quite as fast or effective as Goggles.

Image Source: CNET

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