MyScript Stylus Review

MyScript Stylus Review

Jul 17, 2015

We’ve been working on write ups pertaining to smartpens, and looking at what they bring to the mobile productivity table. For the most part, we’ve found them to be great tools, but only as good as the add-ons that allow them to be harnessed by the platforms they are being used on.

One of the names that continually cropped up during reviews and research was MyScript. MyScript is a name that should resonate with smartpen users; it powers a lot of the image recognition software that some smartpen device makers bundle with their products. The premise is fairly simple: one “writes” with a stylus (or finger) on compatible surfaces with compatible peripherals, and MyScript helps translate the script to formal text.

The potential benefits can be profound. It allows folks who love to write have an opportunity to do so on digital devices. With regards to smartpens, it allows people to write naturally, and convert the collected data to computer-ready text that can be manipulated digitally. It’s fascinating stuff, and seeing it appropriated to mobile devices universally via the MyScript Stylus Beta app for Android is the Next Best Thing.

The app concept is straightforward: it acts like a keyboard, in that it essentially becomes another mode of virtual entry, and when the user wants to enter text, it pops up a window seamlessly (instead of the keyboard one is used to seeing.

mss7

Install out of the Play Store is easy enough, as is the initial set up; one then picks a language (it offers support to 64), and then one follows the dialogue to select the Stylus input as the default. After that, as noted, the app is invoked whenever the user looks to enter text. As it was, I had the perfect test bed: this review, via the WordPress app.

Using a soft tip stylus, I was able to get this post going. At the bottom of the screen, a clean, white window appears, and the basic concept is to write. I started of slow, with deliberate strokes; it picked them up quite quickly. Over time, I was able to go even quicker, and defaulted to my more natural cursive. Again, it worked admirably. It utilizes word suggestions at the top, and it picks up punctuation fairly easily. I did run into problems when I typed too fast, but for the most part, it was surprisingly good, so much so that I did the vast core of this draft via the app.

In trials with my finger, the app was also pretty proficient, but my entry was a bit slower, I really preferred the stylus. I came away thinking that a thin-tipped stylus would be the best option for text entry.

Added altogether: functionality, gesture controls, ease of use and customization options, it’s easy to fall in love with this nifty set of software, even before considering stuff like multiple language support.

Beta? Yeah right…

Microsoft Brings Scanning/OCR Utility Office Lens to Android OS in Preview Form

Microsoft Brings Scanning/OCR Utility Office Lens to Android OS in Preview Form

Apr 3, 2015

Microsoft has just introduced a preview of Office Lens on Android.

Office Lens is Microsoft’s scanning/OCR tool; it allows for the user to use the devices camera to take pictures of documents which can then be searched and indexed.

Office Lens is further proof of Microsoft’s willingness to pursue a cross-platform stradegy by ensuring that its applications are increasingly available on the most widely used mobile operating systems, even as it continues to work to increase the marketshare of its own Windows Phone platform.

To try out Office Lens Preview, one needs to join the Office Lens Android Preview Google+ Community.

Intuit’s SnapTax for Android Review

Intuit’s SnapTax for Android Review

Apr 9, 2014

Doing my own taxes is my personal badge of adult responsibility. I mean, I am confronting the most difficult code since the Rosetta Stone, applying numbers to it, and BAM! It feels awesome, and I feel awesome pointing out how awesome it feels.

But tax preparation software has come along way in its quest to make folks like me awesome. Doing one’s taxes has evolved from gathering W-2s and miscellaneous receipts and driving to a tax preparation office; now, programs can be purchased to do tax work at home, and online programs are commonplace. With apps like TurboTax SnapTax from Intuit, one can prepare one’s taxes on Android smart devices. Intuit was kind enough to provide us with a code to see how the mobile app interfaces with the tax prep software.

SnapTax combines the device’s camera with OCR functionality to effect accurate collection of information; in essence, it greatly speeds up the process of tax preparation by streamlining and automating the most difficult aspect: data entry.snap1

The app itself is fairly minimalist, with mostly white accents. Upon starting the app, it prompts the user to sign in or to create an account; after signing in, there is the picture-taking utility, a section for interview questions and a preview area.

Using the photo utility is easy, at which point the software analyzes the picture of the document and imports the data into the relevant boxes. This was the best part for me; I hate dealing with income forms manually. After W-2s and 1099s have been entered, the program takes one through the briefest of interviews. Assuming all this is correct, the federal taxes can be e-filed right there from the mobile device. It’s so fast that it’s scary.

The convenience comes at a cost, though. For instance, if the app comes across forms outside basic W-2s or 1099s, it routes the user to the full TurboTax program online, the same goes if it determines that one’s tax situation is more complicated than set parameters. TurboTax online didn’t pull all the information already entered into SnapTax, and I was perplexed as to why such superb image capture functionality is not blended directly into TurboTax for users with the same login credentials.

Even with the drawbacks, I loved the program, and mostly enjoyed using it; there is plenty of room for improvement. For those with EZ prep needs, it’s pretty good, with free federal e-file ($14.99 for each state). It (along with Intuit’s other financial apps for Android) is available for free on the Play Store.

OfficeDrop Comes to Android Offering Mobile Document Scanning with OCR

OfficeDrop Comes to Android Offering Mobile Document Scanning with OCR

May 12, 2011

OfficeDrop have released an app that allows users to scan documents and upload them to the cloud for Android. OfficeDrop Paper-To-Go allows users to take pictures of documents with their camera (it also works with saved photos), and upload them to OfficeDrop’s servers for cloud-based access to them. As well, files that are uploaded to OfficeDrop become searchable through OCR (optical character recognition). This means that documents could be scanned, then users can use OfficeDrop’s OCR technology to find text within their scanned documents. A quick test of the app shows that photos of documents that are properly lit, with limited shadows, work better with the OCR feature, but it is very quick and allows for all text captured to be searched. It doesn’t appear to create text documents of the files, however.

OfficeDrop doesn’t just limit documents to the app – it creates PDF files, which are user-downloadable. As well, the app supports sharing to Evernote, and Dropbox from the web client – the Android client is largely just a portal for quickly uploading and viewing files, and the web client offers more options, especially for synchronization. However, viewing, searching, and uploading all work properly from the Android app. The app is available as of today from the Android Market as a free download. The service is a subscription-based one, but it comes with a 60-day free trial that doesn’t require any credit card or other financial info to use.

As OfficeDrop CEO Prasad Thammineni puts it, “Many of OfficeDrop’s small business customers already use their phones to email documents into our system. The new Android app makes this
process much simpler – snap a photo and get organized all within the app. We’re making it easy to not only scan, but also search, share and edit documents on the go.” This is what the Android app is all about – making using this service easier, and being able to access the power of cloud computing from users’ phones. Click here to download OfficeDrop for Android now.