Review: Business Card Reader For iPhone

Scan business cards on-the-go with the number one App Store business category app Business Card Reader.

Business Card Reader by SHAPE Services

From the maker of IM+ comes a new application called Business Card Reader that allows users to transfer business card information into their iPhone contact list using only their iPhone camera.

Features 1.5/2

The app scans and reads a photo of a business card using advanced OCR technology and then inputs the information into the iPhone address book with all appropriate fields populated. The text recognition is done locally on the iPhone, so the app does not require any type of Internet connection for this.

The app may also be used with iPod Touch, but users can only use saved images of business cards with the app. For languages, Business Card Reader supports English, French, Spanish, German, and Italian business cards.

During my use, I found the app to be fairly accurate. Many times the scan interpreted the letter “e” for a “c”, so I had to make small changes after the scan. However the app perfectly populated the address book fields such as URL, first name, last name, company title, and address.

Once a card is scanned, the app includes a neat Card Holder view that allows users to preview contact details, save a picture of a business card in the Photo Album, or delete a contact from the Card Holder.

The app also includes a little bonus for LinkedIn users as contact details can be searched for in the LinkedIn public directory.

Business Card Reader recommends using an iPhone 3GS (auto-focus) and lists six recommendations for a good quality photo:

1.) Put business card on a flat surface

2.) Good lighting is a key factor; a bright desk lamp or direct sunlight

3.) On iPhone 3GS, ensure the camera is focused on the business card. With previous iPhone models, use a camera magnification accessory.

4.) Hold iPhone directly above the card. Keep the card aligned with the view finder edges and adjust the iPhone positioning so that the card fits and fills the screen size.

5.) Hold iPhone firmly and take the photo.

6.) After card recognition is complete, check the result as OCR technology is never always 100% accurate.

Controls & Navigation 1/2

The only limitation of the app is the specific requirements needed to get a good, clear photo (see above). The developers recommend having an iPhone 3GS (auto-focus), good lighting, a steady hand, and a good quality card. To use previous iPhone models, camera magnification add-on accessories are recommended.

These requirements can be a burden, especially if you do not have all of them. Aside from the requirements, the app is easy to navigate and the Card Holder view adds a nice touch as it stores all of your business cards.

Value 0.5/1

Considering the app requirements for a good result, the time it takes for the card scan, and then touching up any small errors, I cannot see this app being any quicker for data input than simply manually typing in a name, number and email address of a business contact.

The app definitely adds a savvy and professional aura to dealing with business cards, but if users have to line the card up and all the rest and then fix small errors, I am not sure how savvy that really looks. Lastly, for what is included in the app, the listed price is way too high of a premium.

Business Card Reader is scored a 3 out of 5.

Business Card Reader is available on the iTunes App Store for $5.99.

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