One of our favorite utilities gets some smart new thinking, which will save you time and energy
Price: Free + $4.99/£3.99 IAP
Size: 49.7 MB
Developer: doo GmbH
Surrounded by technology, we like to think we’re living in a truly digital age, but the fact is paper just won’t go away. So often we’re forced to rely on little scraps of printed material for hugely important information: receipts; bills; memos; contact details. But as iPhone cameras have increased in quality, scanning apps have moved from curios to being properly viable, and Scanbot has matured to become one of the very best.
The app hits all of the sweet spots, in taking high-quality images, automatically detecting the edges of the document it’s capturing, and enabling you to fire the resulting scan at a range of online storage. Importantly, it’s possible to make plenty of edits rather than having to make do with whatever Scanbot starts out with. If you don’t fancy the applied filter (black and white, grey, color or ‘none’), you can change it; if the crop’s a bit off, it can be adjusted. Usefully, it’s also possible to create multi-page PDFs, rather than stitching individual scans together elsewhere. All actions are typically very fast, too — this isn’t an app that wants you to hang around.
The ideal copy
If you’re willing to pay, though, things get far more interesting. Existing scans can be edited, with highlights, notes, and signatures. They can be locked with a password, or the entire app can be protected by Touch ID. Existing scans can have further pages added, and saves can be sped up through smart naming, which essentially has you prod a few buttons to give your document a title. This is all rounded off by text recognition (OCR) and search, along with a little attempted intelligence.
We say ‘attempted’, because Scanbot isn’t quite magic. It tries to figure out your workflows and largely succeeds, for example surfacing a specific cloud-storage provider if you usually use it. With the OCR side of things, it tries to be even cleverer, through automating quick actions based on what it discovers in your scans. If it finds addresses, URLs and phone numbers, these will be extracted and placed in a menu you can later access and use, tapping a number to start a call. The problem is the feature’s a bit hit-and-miss. During testing, for example, a till receipt’s phone number was entirely ignored, because Scanbot instead honed in on a VAT number. General text searches, at least, are more successful, although a touch flakier with serif fonts.
Still, it would be harsh to be too critical of Scanbot’s smarts. You get a lot for a small outlay, and the range of tools within the app makes it a very rare example of an iPhone scanning tool where we want to keep and manage our scans within it rather than sending them elsewhere. Even for free, it’s a good bet, too, due to the quality scans you get and the app’s optional automatic upload to a wide range of supported storage services.