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Tech Review: Popular apps for document scanning

FineScanner offers users digital versions of scanned documents

FineScanner offers users digital versions of scanned documents in basic PDF or JPEG formats. With a subscription plan, users also can save scans in other formats. Credit: ABBYY

Mobile scanners are among the most useful smartphone apps. Whether it’s a receipt, business card or document, you can scan it and have a copy to save digitally and, in many cases, edit. These apps are among the most popular scanners available.  

Adobe Scan

(iOS, Android; free)

Most people save their scans as a PDF file, and since PDF was invented by Adobe, doesn’t it makes sense to use Adobe Scan as your mobile scanner? Well, yes and no. Adobe Scan does a good job as a mobile scanner, but it saves the file in its own Adobe Cloud, not on your device. It offers optical character recognition (OCR), meaning it will turn scans into editable copy, but to unlock the full power of the app a $70 yearly subscription is necessary.

Microsoft Office Lens

(iOS, Android; free)

A perfect choice for users of Microsoft programs such as Word, Excel and OneNote, Microsoft Office Lens is easy to use, and unlike most scanning apps, completely free. Its OCR abilities are excellent, so you can scan a business card and  import the name and phone number to your contacts. The app is especially useful for students who can scan a hard-copy teacher's handout and turn it into editable text.

CamScanner

(iOS, Android; free)

A venerable scanning app that’s been around almost since the dawn of the smartphone era, CamScanner remains extremely popular and is continually upgraded. The totally “free” part of the app comes with a cost: Your scans have watermarks and the app will display annoying ads. But a one-time payment of $1.99 removes ads and watermarks and will provide useful documents from your scans. Other pay tiers give you higher quality documents and more features.

FineScanner

(iOS, Android; free / subscription)

Another kind-of free app, FineScanner gives you digital versions of scanned documents in PDF or JPEG formats. ABBYY, the company behind FineScanner, is known for its excellent OCR technology, which you can unlock with a $5 monthly subscription plan. (You get five free OCR scans with the free version.) The subscription plan also allows you to save your scans in other file formats, for example Word or Excel.

Heads up

Your mother was right: Sit up straight. A San Francisco State University study found that the common posture of extending your head to peer at something more closely on a computer screen can cause headaches and fatigue and, over time, lead to vertebrae injury. The solution: Researchers said make sure your head is not bent over and is straight, “as if held by an invisible thread from the ceiling.” 

— PETER KING

Printer’s devil

Your office printer is a security risk. Research company Quocirca found that 59 percent of companies had a print-related data loss last year. Some breaches occurred because newer internet and cloud-connected printers are vulnerable to hacking. But an old-fashioned, low-tech data-breach method still had a major problem: unclaimed output, where printed out confidential or sensitive information is collected by unauthorized recipients.

— PETER KING

Best of frenemies

Apple and Samsung announced a deal that only recently would have seemed unthinkable: The iPhone maker is offering iTunes movies and TV shows on its archrival’s TV sets. The move demonstrates Apple’s shift toward developing into a tech and media services company as iPhone sales wane. Apple and Samsung were at war for years over smartphone patents, with Apple accusing its rival of copying the iPhone’s design.

— BLOOMBERG NEWS

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