We’ve been talking for years about going paperless in every sphere of our lives, but the reality is we’re not quite there yet — printed receipts, cheques, forms, and business cards are still very much an intricate part of our existence. And let’s not forget our notebooks, napkins and sketch pads. That being said, it’s always worth taking steps towards relying less on paper — going digital helps the environment and makes information easier to manage too.
That is why Genius Scan is a handy app to have on your home screen. It allows you to scan any printed matter using your device’s camera and save it for easy archival and reference. Whether you’re prone to misplacing documents or need to quickly gather notes for your next research paper, Genius Scan can be of great assistance.
With Genius Scan, you can take a picture of any page naturally, crop and enhance it, and save, export or share it. The app works with camera-enabled devices running Android 2.3 and up, costs US$0.99 and is suitable for any page size that you can photograph.
How It Works
Genius Scan is really simple to use — all you have to do is snap a photo of a page, bill or whatever it is you need to scan, adjust the crop to do away with the unwanted parts from your frame, and you’ll get a clean and straightened scan of the content. The app even enhances your image for you, adding a color boost or converting to high-contrast black-and-white depending on your preference.
Defining a selection (L) and the enhanced scan (R)
The interface has two tabs, one for Scans and another for Documents. Multiple scans can go into a Document, while unfiled scans remain in the first tab. Documents are automatically named with a date, so you don’t have to worry about renaming them immediately after scanning.
Multiple scans can be grouped into a Document, which can be exported as a PDF
Getting a Quality Scan
It’s a good idea to take photos of your printed content in as bright an environment as possible, so as to generate images with minimal noise and fast shutter speeds (which indirectly makes for less shake). You don’t really have to worry about the angle of your pages or device, or even about your page being held open with your hand — just crop your image to the desired area with Genius Scan’s flexible crop tool and you’ll be golden.
It’s worth noting that the app can sometimes automatically detect page borders, angles and perspectives and make the necessary adjustments by itself, which is impressive when it happens.
Genius Scan features automatic border detection and enhancement for your scans
Working With Your Scans
Once you’re done scanning a page, you can choose to share it as a JPG or PDF via the system menu, or save it to a new/existing Document by selecting from a list. Opening a Document will show you all the scans you’ve saved to it, and will allow you to share it as well to apps that allow for PDF export (such as Evernote), with each scan on a separate page.
Take a scan to go by exporting it as a PDF or JPG
Using Genius Scan
This is an app that performs well at what it does, but unfortunately doesn’t do enough. While I enjoyed being able to neatly scan and adjust a walletful of receipts and business cards, as well as a few pages from magazines, books and my own notepads, I found the process to be slow and tedious. I’d have liked to have been able to scan pages in batches, by setting a target Document beforehand and tackling scan adjustments later on.
A document’s lifetime doesn’t end upon being scanned — it needs to be easy to recognize, manipulate and retrieve when necessary. Genius Scan could do with some more features, such as OCR (to make text within scans searchable), annotation (particularly for students who might use it for notes or whiteboard snapshots) and of course, search for scans (as well as tags and filters).
The interface is also a bit confusing, especially when you use the app for the first time — there’s nothing to guide you through the process of scanning and saving, and nothing to indicate that you’re done scanning and can begin with another page. This can be easily fixed, and should be high on the developer’s priorities for the next update.
Genius Scan vs. the Competition
Given that this is a paid app and there’s a lot of competition out there, I’d really have liked to have seen more features in it. For example, Evernote doesn’t auto-adjust photos but does allow you to annotate, tag and conduct searches within the text of your scans, at no extra charge. And for US$4.99, CamScanner lets you scan in batches, backup and restore scans, add tags for search and even copy/move scans between Documents.
If your work or home life requires you to deal with large volumes of paper, you might find Genius Scan helpful. I’d recommend this app for its quality cropping and adjustment tools, but I really can’t get past the unintuitive interface that doesn’t aid the user experience at all. Having said that, it’s not very expensive, and may be suitable for those who just need to be able to scan documents on the move for a low price.