If you’re still working with piles of papers at your desk, you’re doing it wrong.
People have long known the effects of excess paper usage, and some offices are slowly working their way towards a paperless office – one that requires no stacks of paper, no printing of work, with all the necessary data safely and efficiently stored in the digital world. However, the inertia to this change is great, and most people find transiting to paperless life cumbersome, annoying, and tiring.
Evernote hasn’t release anything truly innovative recently, instead focusing on building their business brand and updating existing apps in little ways. Scannable, however, is revolutionary, and in the best way possible, one of the most practical apps you could use.
The idea is simple – the app uses your camera to detect, frame, and ‘scan’ a document held up before it. There have been scanning apps before that, but the accuracy and precision that this app has is a great improvement from the usual snap and crop ideas. If it detects a document, the app instantly lights it up in blue, and then uses editing software to increase the contrast on the pictures, making words bolder and clearer.
After trying it out on a couple of receipts and letters, there were no problems. Just as long as the light is good enough, and the background isn’t too messy (I usually just place it on an empty spot on my desk), detection took 3-5 seconds, and scanning about the same. You can save them directly into an Evernote note, email it, or export it as an image into either your Camera Roll or iCloud.
But the best part of this app came when name cards were involved. Because, as strange as it sounds, Scannable converts name cards to people.
Let me explain.
After scanning a name card, Scannable will automatically pull out the details from the card to be stored in your phone as a contact. You can directly make a phonecall just by tapping on the phone number. And to take it one step further, their LinkedIn profile will be pulled out for your perusal, assuming that they own a LinkedIn Premium account. You can even check through Scannable if you have any meetings with them set in your iCal.
Basically, they’ve taken the main purpose of a name card – opportunities to connect to a person – and turned them into actionables. Nothing is quite as real as a phone-number you can call in a single tap.
If you own an Evernote SnapScan, you could do it the professional way and use the app to control a proper scanner, but that wouldn’t be quite as fun (plus, a SnapScan Evernote Edition printer costs USD$495, while the app is completely free).
My only qualms about Scannable is that it sometimes has trouble detecting unfamiliar fonts or colours, with letters going missing or morphing into different ones (our managing editor Jacky was christened Iacky, thanks to Scannable). I would have also preferred a gallery of scanned items to make it easier to look through, instead of the linear format it sports now.
The features also seem to adapt solely to Apple’s products, like iCal and iCloud, leaving Android users behind. While excluding Android users may seem strange in this day and age, considering that budget smartphones are starting to pop up and making use of Google’s arsenal, Evernote has always leaned more towards Apple’s iOS, and its pretty obvious from the way their products look and feel. So it should come to no surprise that it is only available in iTunes store, with no ideas of whether it would be released on Android in the near future or how it would be done.
After tons of lacklustre app updates, Scannable may be the most practical new product Evernote has pushed out in a while, and it is a great relief. They’ve grasped the concept that previous paperless efforts have yet to understand – bringing the physical world to digital isn’t just turning words into pixels, it’s about bringing the best of the digital world to the physical, effectively making it easier and smarter.