Office Lens Gets Even Better

Office Lens is one of my favorite Windows Phone apps, letting you use your handset’s camera like a portable scanner. Since its September release, this app has gotten better and better. And this week it pick up more useful features, including the ability to save to PDF and auto-classify images.

Before this week’s new update, Office Lens was already pretty awesome. It let you choose between photo, business card, whiteboard and document modes before photographing the item you wish to save, and then let you optionally save your scans as Word or PowerPoint documents in OneNote on OneDrive.

But now it’s even better. Today, Microsoft added the following two new capabilities to Office Lens:

Convert picture scans to PDF. As with the previous ability to save scans to Word or PowerPoint, you can now do so in PDF format too. Pictures that are converted to PDF by Office Lens include OCR (optical character recognition), so you can extract text information from them.  This means you can search OneNote for the content in one of these files, and when you open such a file in a PDF reader, you can highlight or copy text to the clipboard. (And in case it’s not obvious, you can also convert picture scans to PDF, Word and PowerPoint at the same time, since each is just a check box in the Save screen.)


Auto-classification of scans. As noted above, the way Office Lens has worked thus far is that you run the app, choose a scan type—photo, business card, whiteboard or document—and then scan the item. With the new auto-classifier feature enabled (and yes, you do have to enable this), you can just point and shoot your phone’s camera and Office Lens will analyze what you’ve captured and automatically switch to the best mode. So you no longer need to think about modes at all. It just works. Office-Lens-update-2-1024x491

Office Lens is awesome, and while I don’t see this update yet on my phones—I’m not sure why, but these kinds of things always arrive late in the day for me for some reason—this looks like yet another amazing update.

You can download the free Office Lens app for Windows Phone 8 or 8.1 from the Windows Phone Store. You should do so.

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