Scanner Pro: The ultimate document scanning app for iOS [Review]


You might not realise, but you’ve got a document scanner in your pocket. Remember all those spy films where the hero pulls out a tiny camera to take a copy of the villain’s plans to take over the world? You too can do that because your iPhone’s camera is more than capable enough to take high quality document snaps. While just the built-in camera app alone is fine, it’s always difficult to avoid perspective distortions and have shadows get in the way. Scanner Pro is here to help with all of that, read on to find out how.

When you first use Scanner Pro, it’s not at all clear quite how it organises its scans. You actually perform scans in batch loads, and each batch is shown on the top-level of the app. When I started testing it, I didn’t realise I was working within my first group/batch. I eventually learned that these groupings of batches were extremely useful and that you can organise things even more by creating a folder to put batches in – groups of groups! The best thing with the batch system is that once you’ve completed a group of scans, the group can be uploaded to a number of online services as a multipage PDF.

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When starting to scan, you may take a photo within the app, or import a photo from the camera roll. The latter option is useful if you have a bunch of document photos you took before buying the app – you can still give them the Scanner Pro treatment.

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The first thing that Scanner Pro does is allow you to draw a quadrilateral around the area you wish to have scanned. This solves the first problem of photo-scanning – perspective. Scanner Pro is actually quite smart as it tries to guess the area you wanted to scan. I found this to be consistently almost accurate – by that I mean that it usually gets the plane of perspective correct, but it usually adds on an extra area that I don’t want to include.

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The corner controls for setting the shape can be quite fiddly, but Scanner Pro has two tools to help with this. Firstly, a magnifying glass appears to help you get close in. Secondly, if you’re finding that your finger is occluding the area of interest, or you’re bumping into the side of the screen, a two finger gesture can launch a long ‘handle’ so that you can move the corner from a distance. However, I’m still trying to work out exactly what the magic combination of touches is to get the handle on the corner I intended is.

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Next in the process is tweaking the visual properties. Here, you can set brightness, contrast, rotation, and image size. Also, you can set the document type: photo, greyscale, or document. The latter option (which is default) is perhaps the most useful as it uses software to smooth out all of the uneven shading you’ll always get when you photograph a sheet of paper.

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Once the scan has been created, there are a large amount of options on what you’ll actually do with it. You can save single scans to your camera roll, and print documents via networked printers. Scanner Pro lets you open in installed apps such as Evernote and Instashare. Even more surprisingly was built-in support for uploading to Google Docs, Dropbox, Evernote, and any WebDAV server.

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Given the clarity created by Scanner Pro’s algorithms, the built-in support for uploading to your Evernote account makes the two apps a perfect combination. Of course, this is only so for Evernote users. However, Evernote users enjoy the service’s powerful optical character recognition so that both images and image- based PDF files are made searchable by Evernote.

Creating an Evernote note within Scanner Pro.
Creating an Evernote note within Scanner Pro.

Scanner Pro is pretty much the whole package if you happen to use your phone for heavy duty document scanning. Bear in mind that the app is relatively expensive ($6.99). However, you might find that the expense if worthwhile if you regularly need such a tool. There are other apps that can do a similar job when it comes to correcting perspective. However, Scanner Pro’s biggest strength is in its ability to organise scans and share with other apps.

➤ Download link ($6.99)

Here's a source image that we used with Scanner Pro ...
Here’s a source image that we used with Scanner Pro …
... and here's the scan we produced.
… and here’s the scan we produced.

 

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Related Topics: iPhone Apps, iPhone Apps Review