Microsoft turning smartphones into portable scanners

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office-lens-appLast week, Microsoft launched the Office Lens app for iPhone, following its successful debut on Windows phone’s last year.

Office Lens, which will also be made available on Android in coming weeks, essentially transforms a smartphone into a portable scanner, offering users the ability to upload scanned documents to both OneNote and OneDrive and to Word and PowerPoint, thus making the document accessible on all devices and on a multitude of programs.

The mobile document-scanner app, uses the camera on the smartphone to take photos of paper documents, receipts, business cards, menus, whiteboards, sticky notes and more. It then automatically crops, enhances and cleans up images, while also enabling users to search for key words inside the actual image, using new optical character recognition technology.

In conjunction with the company’s newer strategy to embrace other platforms outside of its own, the app has made a welcome appearance in Apple’s App Store, where it will sit alongside dozens of other Microsoft applications, including Office and Outlook.

There are various document-scanning applications out there, for instance Scanner Pro and Scanbot. And much like Evernote’s Scannable app – Scannable – for example, Office Lens exists more as an add-on or complement to a larger, more prominent product, in Microsoft’s case, that larger product is OneNote, the digital note-taking app. Nonetheless, Microsoft is continuing its cross-platform productivity push and that can only be a good thing for business and individuals alike.