For us techies, the idea of living a paperless life sounds amazing, right? No need to keep filing cabinets full of statements, receipts, bills and other important documents, just keep a digital copy. Of course, there are a number of apps to scan your paper documents and turn them into digital records but finding a one that is both reliable and affordable can be difficult.
Smart Document Scanner from Softxpert is one such app for Android. Available as a free download (with some functionality requiring an in-app purchase, which I’ll explore later), SDS packs in a number of features that could make it your go-to scanning app on your Android phone or tablet.
The basic premise of Smart Document Scanner is to take allow you to take a photo of your paper documents or receipts (or import an image taken previously) and turn it into a JPEG or PDF file. The app can automatically find the edges of the document scanned (better when set against a dark background) or these can be set manually. Once scanned, you can adjust the colors of the document, make it grayscale or black and white, and save it.
Smart Document Scanner has support for documents with multiple pages — these can be easily created with a batch photo mode and, within the app, you can organize all of your scans into multi-level folders and sync them across your Android devices. If that was all SDS offered, it’d be a solid choice for a scanning app. But, there’s more.
Smart Document Scanner excels because of a number of additional functionalities it includes. I’ll walk you through a few of the key ones. When you scan something with SDS, you can use OCR to recognize any text within and make your scans searchable — this takes seconds to do and makes your documents easy to find at a later date, too. Unfortuantely, as you might expect, the quality of the text recognition is highly dependent on the quality of the photo you took so results can vary greatly. With the right lighting and a steady hand, however, you can quickly add accurate OCR to each scan, making edits if needed.
Further, you can add annotations to scans, or easily immport OCR text into an annotation, and when you export files as PDF documents your annotations will remain attached. There’s cloud sync too, with Google Drive and Dropbox support built in, that works flawlessly so you can have your documens available across platforms and you can share scans as JPEGs or PDFs to via all the mediums you’d expect, as evidenced in the screenshot showing the share menu. Shared PDFs can also be password protected, which is great if you’re going to be dealing with sensitive information.
It is this wealth of features which brings me onto my first complaint about Smart Document Scanner. With so many possibilities, I found there to be a barrier to entry with the app and the UI a little difficult to get to grips with initially. While there is an in-app help section which is very useful, I feel like the app should help to explain its featureset on first time usage.
I mentioned earlier that the free version of Smart Document Scanner is limited with full functionality accessed via an in-app purchase. The basic version allows you to make 20 scans per month and add 5 annotations to your scans per month. Sync with Google Drive is made available for free after you rate the app on Google Play (or make the in-app purchase) and exported scans will include a Smart Document Scanner watermark (although it is fairly subtle at the bottom of each page) until the purchase is made. Even with these limitations, Smart Document Scanner is free of ads and you can actually get a fair amount of use out of it in order to, at the very least, try it out for yourself to see if you deem it worthy of the upgrade. Speaking of which, the premium pricing was previously $4.99 per year (inexpensive in relation to competing apps) but Softxpert is currently running a promotion that allows you to unlock all of Smart Document Scanner’s functionaltiy for life for one payment of $4.49. A bargain if you’re going to be using the app frequently.
The Good: Quick and easy to scan paper documents and save/share them as multiple page PDF or JPEG files. OCR makes scans searchable. No ads, even in the free version. Dropbox and Gogole Drive support. $4.49 price is a steal.
The Bad: Awesome functionality means there is a barrier to entry that could be lessened with a mini-tutorial. Takes a while to get to grips with the app. Photo-taking conditions dictate quality of scans and OCR in particular.
The Verdict: Smart Document Scanner is a fully-featured scanning and OCR app for Android phones and tablets. It packs in a great deal of functionality, even in the free version, with the paid upgrade being a no-brainer for anyone who needs a reliable mobile scanning app. While it might take some time to get to grips with SDS, it could soon become an indespensable tool in your app library.
Check out Smart Document Scanner on Google Play now, download it for free and try it out for yourself. If you like it, you can unlock more functionality for a one-off payment of $4.49.