We recently published a post about the best apps to scan business cards, highlighting several applications that take advantage of Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to read the information of a business card, and save that information to the Contacts app. There are many options available, paid or free, but a new one recently got on my radar. Its simplicity and efficiency deserves its own post.
The app in question is Scannable, by Evernote. We actually talked about it when it was released a while ago, but I thought one major feature didn’t get the attention it deserves: the app’s ability to scan business cards and save the information to your Contacts list.
Those of you looking for a free option to scan and read business cards will definitely want to consider Scannable.
How to scan a business card with Scannable
The first step is obviously to download and launch the Scannable app. Thanks to the iPhone camera, the app will try to scan any kind of document you put in front of it. Make sure the business card you want to scan is placed on a contrasting background to make it easier for the app to recognize the document. For example, if the business card is white, try to place it on a dark background, vice versa.
Scannable’s document detection engine is really good, but you can make the scan even better by placing your iPhone right above the business card. The app will then detect the business card and take a photo of it automatically, without requiring you to tap any button. For those users who like to have more control, there is a Manual option that allows you to take the photo yourself instead of trusting the app. The scanned business card is then saved, and the app will be waiting for you to throw more documents at it to scan.
At that point, you can keep scanning documents or business cards, or you can look at the card and add its contact info to your Contacts app.
How to create a new contact from a scanned business card
As mentioned above, the scan will be saved to the Scannable app (not to your Camera roll). Tap on the scanned card at the bottom of the screen to select it. If you have saved several scans, you can select the one you want by flicking the cards left and right.
When it detects a business card, Scannable automatically adds the name of the contact on top of the scan. Not only this helps make sure it got the name right, but it also confirms that Scannable did see the scanned document as a business card, as opposed to any other type of document.
Tap on the grey bar that shows the name of the scanned contact and a new screen will appear, showing all the information Scannable was able to get from the card. At that point, you can even sign in to LinkedIn to search for a photo and more information for the contact, which we will not do here.
From there, tap the blue Save Contact icon at the bottom of the screen, and all the information will be saved to your Contacts app. Note that the app doesn’t allow you to add the information to an existing contact. You can repeat the same process with as many business cards as you need.
Scannable works remarkably well, but it could get some information wrong, which is why it is advised to check the newly added contact information to make sure everything is good. One downside of the app is that it doesn’t seem to make the difference between first and last name. In my tests, it always added the full name of the contact to the First Name field of the contact info. It might not be a big deal for most people, but neat freaks might want to take this into account.
Again, this is far from being the only app in the App Store to do this. If anything, Scannable is kind of late to the game, but its price and ease of use make it a perfect option for most people. Others looking for more pro features might want to look at our selection of the best business card reader apps for iPhone.