Saturday, April 13, 2013

On the road, going paperless: Camscanner for Android

I travel a lot and I accumulate scads of receipts that make my wallet bulge or collect in my backpack. One of the things I have tried to do over the last year, to make my mobile life easier, is to reduce my reliance on paper and moving as much of that stuff to the cloud.

I managed to convince the accounting folks at my firm that electronic receipts are good enough for expense claims, so the next step was finding a good way of creating, managing and submitting digital copies of receipts. I've tried taking photos of them and e-mailing them to my assistant, but that hasn't been great. While the camera on my Galaxy Nexus is very good, it's not well-suited for photos of paper. I've also tried the page camera feature in Evernote, but that has been glitchy for me. At ABA Techshow, one of the Android sessions I attended mentioned Camscanner. During the session, I downloaded the app and I'm very happy with it.

So what does it do? The app is designed to take quality photos of paper, whiteboards, signs and the like. Unlike the usual camera, it includes a bunch of very useful, semi-automated adjustments. For example, it will adjust the contrast so that text stands out. It will help you crop out all the extraneous cruft, so the image is just the receipt. It will also adjust for skew since it's pretty hard to get the camera exactly parallel to the paper. And, perhaps most importantly, has very easy sharing of the adjusted image to Evernote, e-mail, DropBox and other services you'd expect.

In addition to receipts, it does a very good job of moving my handwritten notes to the cloud. (I keep those in Evernote or Google Drive, instead of Camscanner's depository, principally so that all of that info is in one place.)

Here is the company's demo that gives a good overview of what it's all about:

If you want to move paper from your pockets and bags to the cloud in a way that ensures it's still legible and useful, give Camscanner a try.

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