How to Convert an Image to Text Using OCR on Android

The OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology has improved quite a lot in recent years. We can now scan text from images more precisely. Wouldn’t it be good if we could convert an image to text right on our mobile device? This would save you the hassle of uploading the image to your computer and converting it online. In this article we will show you how you can use your Android device to convert an image to text.

There are many OCR-based apps available on the Play Store, but not all of them work as precisely as we want. However, after enough testing, we have found a few apps that work well. The app used here is Office Lens, developed by Microsoft. It gave us the most precise results.

1. Download Office Lens from Play Store and set it up. You will need an Internet connection for this app to process properly. If your device is powered by Android 6.0 and above, then you will be asked to allow the app to access your camera.

2. The first thing you’ll need to do is snap a photo of the document that you want to scan for conversion. The app provides a built-in camera interface to take the photo. In this interface there are a few options available on the top that can come in handy. You can even import a previously taken photo if you want.

office-lens-camera-interface

For the conversion to be more precise, you can choose between different options and let the app know what it is dealing with, whether it’s a document, whiteboard, a simple photo or a business card. As shown in the above screenshot, the Document option is chosen and a white border is created around the text area that has to be scanned. This can be helpful in cases where there are unnecessary objects in the background.

3. After taking the photo, you can further edit the image and crop the area that has to be scanned and converted.

office-lens-crop-image

4. Tap on the checkmark button below after cropping. On the next screen the options for saving and renaming are available. The app requires you to be logged in to your Microsoft account, so it will prompt the device to log in before you proceed. The Microsoft login is required because the file will be saved in your OneDrive account.

office-lens-save-options

5. Select the application you want to use to further edit the converted document from the list. Tap on the checkmark button on the top-right corner to start the processing and conversion from image to text. Make sure the device is connected to the Internet.

office-lens-image-processing

6. The app will convert the image to text, and the file will be saved as a doc file to your OneDrive account. You can further edit the file on your device using Microsoft Word. Also, there is an option to convert it to PDF.

Not all users will be happy to use Office Lens, as it requires Microsoft Login and doesn’t give enough options to edit the document in the desired document-editing app. Also, the converted file is not saved locally in storage; only the image is stored. (It seems that this is Microsoft’s way of making you use their products.)

Text Fairy is another great OCR-based app and has many features to help you convert an image to text. Unlike Office Lens, it doesn’t have a built-in camera interface, but it comes with a built-in editor. The text can be edited right in the app and then further saved in whichever format you want. It can recognize text from more than fifty languages, and Google Translate is integrated with it. It’s the best alternative app you can use for text-to-image conversion.

It is great to see that the OCR technology is now available on mobile, and it brings convenience to many people. However, do note that the image-to-text conversion is not 100% accurate yet, and the image clarity and the lighting can affect the output of the conversion as well, so make sure you check through the text conversion again before you store it for future use.

What other OCR applications do you use on Android?

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