Scanner Pro: Document Scanning Made Easy

Not everyone uses the camera on their iPad. I suppose that’s because it does look a bit strange wandering around pointing an iPad at the next great photo opportunity. However, using an iPad to scan a document seems like something we could all find useful.

That is certainly what Readdle, makers of Scanner Pro, want you to think anyway. Scanner Pro is a universal app that allows you to scan various types of document using your iPad’s camera. I have used this app on my iPhone and find it excellent. I have an iPad 2 so I decided to see what limitations there are when scanning with version 4.0.2 of the app. Readdle do say for optimum results you are better off using the iPhone version, or a new iPad. Let’s see if they are right…


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Getting Started

So that’s the first thing to keep in mind. The iPad version of this app is optimised for use with the new iPad and its retina display capabilities, that brings me to my first point about Scanner Pro.

Paying $6.99 for an app that may not work particularly well on my device feels like a risk I wouldn’t normally take. However, the iPhone version works really well (including the iPhone 4), so it seems strange that the app may struggle on an iPad 2.

Well, here is the good news. You won’t be wasting your money. There are indeed some limitations in regards to quality of the scans, but there are also ways around those limitations. So lets take a closer look.

What Is the App For?

The name is pretty self-explanatory, but Scanner Pro does particularly well with certain types of documents. In general you can:

  • Scan handwritten notes and sketches to keep a digital copy.
  • Scan receipts and invoices to keep a digital copy.
  • Scan interesting book pages and magazine articles for reading later.

What Does It Look Like?

When you first start the app you will be greeted with the main document window:

Scanner Pro main interface

Scanner Pro's main interface.

At first glance there don’t seem to be many options, but the neat interface has some useful features tucked away. For example, from the Settings menu, you can link your Dropbox, Google, and Evernote accounts:

Scanner Pro Settings

Scanner Pro's settings.

I think that capability is critical for a productivity app. Evernote and Dropbox are popular the world over for good reason. Any app that claims to help with productivity must support them. Scanner Pro also supports Google Docs so all the main cloud based storage systems are covered.

Other than Settings, there are buttons for taking a new photo, and adding an existing one from the Photo Library:

Interface buttons

Interface buttons.

Functionality

To scan a document, it is simply a matter of tapping the camera button. You will get a grid for alignment and a reminder to hold still while taking the photograph. Once you have tapped the button to take the picture, Scanner Pro will have a guess and which part of the image you were trying to capture:

Scanner Pro after photo taken

Scanner Pro after photo taken.

You can use the drag handles to adjust the area that will be included in the scan. There are a set of buttons that appear on a toolbar at the bottom of the screen:

  • Find borders – will try and work out the outline of the area you have photographed.
  • Select all – will change the selection to include everything in the photo.
  • A4 (might say letter) provides a menu for you to choose a document size.

Let There Be Light…

I did all my testing using natural daylight from a nearby window. The iPad version of Scanner Pro would probably struggle under tungsten lighting, unless you have a third generation iPad.

Readdle do provide a warning with version 4.0.2 of the app:

Readdle quality warning

Readdle quality warning.

That tells you everything you need to know.

Some Scanning

I decided the best way to test the app was to try a scan on:

  1. A newspaper article.
  2. A magazine page.
  3. Handwritten notes.

1. Newspaper Article

scanned newspaper article

Scanned newspaper article.

Both images are acceptable as a record of the article. The image on the left uses the “photo” option, and the image on the right uses the “document” option. The “greyscale” option makes no discernible difference from the “document” option.

2. Magazine Page

scanned magazine article

Scanned magazine article.

The image on the left comes from the iPad app, and the image on the right comes from the iPhone app. I used the “photo” option in both cases. The iPad version suffers from graininess as Readdle have suggested it might. The iPhone version however is fine.

The app gives you the ability to include images from your Photo Library, so scans that turn out better from your iPhone can still be included into the document you are creating.

3. Hand Written Notes

scanned hand written notes

Scanned hand written notes.

As before, the image on the left is the iPad version of the app, and the image on the right comes from the iPhone version. I used the “greyscale” option in both cases. You can see that the iPad version suffers from graininess again, whereas the iPhone version is really good.

If I was using the new iPad you can see that the quality would be excellent. I think the iPad 2 version of the document scan is still usable though. As I said before, using images from your photo stream is possible so if you are not happy the workaround is to use the iPhone version of the app to do the scan.

I also tried the pages from a book and the result was much the same. As long as I used the “Photo” setting for the scan on my iPad, it produced an acceptable result.

Other Features

A key feature of this app is how easy it is transfer your scans to various cloud storage services, or simply by email. Readdle have made the process so slick that scanning a document and sending/uploading it takes only a matter of a few minutes at the most.

Clicking the Edit button at the top right of the screen lets you select a document:

selecting documents

Selecting documents.

From there, you can choose the Export button:

choose an export option

Choose an export option.

Choosing email will offer you a choice of sending the sans as a JPEG or PDF. Choosing PDF creates a new email message, attaches the PDF and even fills in the subject line for you:

emailing your documents

Emailing your documents.

Click Send and thats that, message sent with documents attached.

The process of uploading to Dropbox is very slick too. From the Export button choose the “Upload to…” option:

uploading to DropBox

Uploading to Dropbox.

You will see the various options available. Choosing Dropbox:

uploading to DropBox

Uploading to Dropbox.

Creates a ScannerPro folder and clicking the Upload button will send the scans to the folder – simple as that.

Conclusion

I was skeptical about scanning with my iPad to begin with, but after spending some time with the Scanner Pro app, I have seen the possibilities. The thing is, I was never really sure that the iPad needed a camera, but apps like this convince me otherwise.

It might be a coincidence, but recently I have had several situations crop up where I have needed to quickly copy a printed document, and Scanner Pro has provided me with a way to do it. Admittedly I used the iPhone version, but the point is, the app still provided the means to do it. If I am completely honest, the iPhone version is better overall than the iPad version. That probably isn’t the case if you have a new iPad though.

Is it worth the price tag? Well yes, if you have a new iPad and are likely to do a lot of scanning. If you have an iPad 2, you could take a look at DocScan HD it does a really nice job too, and has some nice export options. It’s cheaper too at $3.99.


Summary

Scan any document, receipt, whiteboard or paper note with your new iPad or iPhone. Then upload your scans, saved as PDF files, to Dropbox and Google Docs, or email them.

7
  • Dave

    Just bought this app based on the review. I’ve got the new iPad. Everytime I tried to take a shot from the camera, the app would appear to try to determine the edges of the document and then promptly shut down.

    I did find that I could take a picure from the normal Camera app and then import the photo into Scanner Pro… but I definitely had an uninspiring experience with the app. For an app that’s more expensive than the other document scannes, I’d expect better performance.

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  • ARUP RAY

    I cannot seem to get this app to work with my new iPad. The app takes the image with the grid, borders, handles, etc. and then nothing happens. It works fine on my iPhone. There is obviously some sort of software glitch which makes it unusable on even the new iPad

  • Julie

    Does ScannerPro come with OCR capability for PDF so that Voiceover can read it? Just wondering if this would be a good option for people with low vision or print-based disabilities.

  • http://aramk.com/ Aram Kocharyan

    It doesn’t detect import PDFs from iTunes. You MUST use a picture.