After a year-long reign on Windows Phone, one of Microsoft’s best mobile apps is coming to the competition: today, the software giant is releasing Office Lens for Android handsets and iPhone. The app works much as it does on Windows Phone, letting you scan receipts, business cards, menus, whiteboards or sticky notes, edit them, and then upload them to OneNote in the cloud.
“Office Lens for Windows Phone has become one of the most popular free apps on Windows Phone, with an average rating of 4.6 stars (out of 5) from more than 18,500 reviews,” Microsoft notes. “Today, we’re releasing Office Lens for iPhone and Android phones.”
According to Microsoft, Office Lens for iPhone is generally available, and you can now get this free app from Apple’s App Store. But the Android version is in preview only: to get it, you need to visit the Office Lens Android Preview page on Google+, sign up to be a tester (under “About this community”), and then follow the instructions.
I’ve been singing the praises of Office Lens on Windows Phone since the initial release, and Microsoft has steadily improved the app via a series of updates. So I suspect the Android and iPhone versions will be stellar additions to your mobile app arsenal as well.
Long story short, “Office Lens trims, enhances, and makes pictures of whiteboards and documents readable, and can convert images to editable Word, PowerPoint, and PDF files.” It works like a scanner, and has three main modes:
Photo. This mode is used to scan a physical photo, or basically to take a photo which can then be edited and shared.
Document. This mode is used to scan and crop printed documents, business cards, or posters.
Whiteboard. This mode can be used to capture and crop a picture of a whiteboard or blackboard and then share it with others. This mode also cleans up glare and shadows.
Thanks to OCR capabilities, you can later search for words in scanned documents and then copy and edit them. And scans converted to Word (.docx), PowerPoint (.pptx), or PDF (.pdf) are automatically saved to OneDrive.
I installed the app on my iPhone 6 Plus to see how it compares to the Windows Phone version. It’s a bit simpler, I guess, in that Windows Phone has a fourth mode for business cards and the iPhone version handles that with the Documents mode. But it works similarly, auto-sensing the boundaries of a document in that mode, for example, and offering similar cropping tools. In each, you can save the document to OneNote—and if so, choose where in OneNote it will be stored—or create a document in Word, PowerPont, or PDF. The iPhone version also supports OneDrive, Mail and Photo Library as well.
Understandably, the arrival of this app on Android and iPhone will be disappointing to those who don’t like to see Microsoft slowly taking away every key Windows Phone advantage. But this was basically inevitable, wasn’t it? And it does at least make some eventual switch to Android or iPhone—should such a thing ever be required—more palatable.
Here’s a quick video overview of Office Lens for iPhone.