Today Microsoft announced that it has released its Office Lens app for iOS and Android. If you’ve never heard of it before, Office Lens is an advanced camera app that turns your phone into a scanner. Take a picture of a document or a whiteboard, and the app will automatically turn the image into a straight and clear scan.
What’s neat is that the app can also be used to quickly and neatly digitize a print instead of putting the photo through an actual scanner.
Here’s a short video that introduces the app and shows how it’s used:
The app does a great job at extracting documents from a photo, cropping it, sharpening it, and straightening it, creating a resulting image that looks like you had put the document into a scanner.
We wanted to see if the app could also serve as a makeshift photo scanner for situations in which you’d like to quickly and effortlessly turn a physical print into a digital image. In other words, when you’re more interested in speed than in quality.
So we pulled out a print and put in on a desk.
Then we opened up the Office Lens app and pointed it at the print.
There are three modes. Photo (in which you’re taking a plain photo), Document (for saving things on papers), and Whiteboard (for taking pictures of notes scribbled on whiteboards). Switching to Document mode outlines the print.
Take a picture, even from a strange angle, and the app will automatically straighten out your photo for you.
You can then save it to various services, email it, or save it to your phone’s Camera Roll or Photo Gallery.
The final image may not look as nice as a scan (you may have weird reflections if your photo is glossy), but it’s a quick digitization that didn’t require any cropping, straightening, or retouching on your part.
There are fancier apps out there for scanning photos with your phone, but often those apps will cost money, or won’t allow you to save or share your scans unless you pay for an in-app purchase.