Archive for December, 2010

WorldCard Moble app review

Disclaimer: The following is a paid post, funded by Penpower Inc. However, the app has been reviewed impartially.

iPhone app review
App name: WorldCard Mobile – business card reader & business card scanner
Developer: Penpower Technology Ltd.
Version: 3.0.0
Price: $7.99 AUD ($5.99 USD)

What:
WorldCard Mobile (iTunes link) is a business card scanning app for the iPhone. While business card scanning apps are not a new idea (they’ve been around on old Nokia smartphones for years), for those who are new to this technology, here’s a rundown. You take a photo of the desired business card with your smartphone, then the app’s super smart technology analyses it’s data using optical character recognition (OCR)and creates a new contact with the information it deciphered. WorldCard Mobile, like other business card scanning apps, helps to reduce the burden of manually copying text from business cards to digital contact information.

Good:
Whilst there are many business card scanning apps on the market (there’s at least four others on iTunes) WorldCard Mobile differentiates itself by providing great OCR software. The app is produced by Penpower Inc. who has been fine-tuning their OCR software for years with physical versions of the same technology (see WorldCard by Penpower). From the trials I conducted, it recognised most text fields correctly the majority of the time (Update (30/12/10): A spokesperson from Penpower Inc. informs me that whilst the OCR is not 100% accurate, Penpower strives hard to to improve their OCR technologies. While their competitors are using OCR technology from 3rd parties, Penpower’s OCR is their core technology.)

Another benefit is that when the app does not recognise fields correctly, you can crop out a portion of the original image for re-recognition (which usually fixes the problem). The app also stores all scanned cards in a nifty Card Holderwith cover flow view.

The name WorldCard is significant because the app can function remarkably to recognise text in 7 different languages, including: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch.

Another great feature the app provides is the ability to scrape contact information out of an email signature. All you have to do is highlight the contact signature within Mail, hit copy, and press Signature within WorldCard Mobile. The app automatically grabs the text from your iPhone clipboard and can create contact data right from that screen.
The other feature which I really like is used when in scanning mode. Right next to the capture image button is a shake reduction button. What this does is waits until the camera is held steady and then takes the photo automatically – genius.

Bad:
WorldCard Mobile does what it says it does relatively well. On occasion the app would have trouble recognising some characters which I found most prominent when the text was small, an obscure field (i.e. a Twitter handle) or the original scan was blurry. Speaking of obscure fields, the app is limited to only recognising the following types of information: name, company, department, job title, phone, mobile, fax, email, website URL, address and a contact photo.

The camera shake reduction works well most of the time, except for if the image is out of focus to begin with as the shake reduction seems only to wait until the device is held still before capturing the image. A better way to activate the shutter automatically would be to wait until the image is in focus. Maybe this could be improved in a future update?

Something that’s aesthetically out of touch too, is that whilst the app is rendered for the iPhone 4’s Retina display, some icons and images within the app are still in low-res. Additionally, whilst using the app I get the idea that the image on the home screen is a stock photo. I’d rather see a little more originality here.
Also, the app doesn’t have multi-tasking support which means you lose any unsaved data if you happen to switch apps. This needs to be fixed in the next update.

Also, just to be pedantic, I’d like to see a more minimalistic icon for the app!

Summary:
Nonetheless, WorldCard Mobile does what it aims to do with minimal effort. With some of the best OCR software I’ve seen in action, the ability to crop out fields for misread text and the app’s Card Holder with cover flow view, WorldCard Mobile gets the job done.

Priced a little on the high side (at $7.99 AUD), you can grab yourself arguably the best OCR technology available on the iPhone today.

You can check out the full WoldCard Mobile on the App Store, or test it out free with the lite version (limited to saving just a few cards).