There are a number of good document scanners for iOS. My personal favourite is Scanner Pro 7 from Readdle. In fact, Readdle make a number of great Apps to which I must also recommend Documents 5. These Apps allow you to take photos of paper documents and turn them into text-searchable PDF’s using OCR. Then, you can copy and paste text from the results into other documents.
What these Scanner Apps fail to do well, however, is help you clip articles that you are reading on your iOS device and turn those into OCR’d PDFs. It’s true that Scanner Pro 7 allows you to access your camera roll but it only goes into a single folder and doesn’t necessarily access precisely what you need it to. Also, adding multiple images for OCR is tedious.
If you are wondering exactly what I am talking about, then let me put it this way. Suppose you are using an App like the Kindle Reader or Zinio, or even a news reader App from your favourite newspaper. Not all of these Apps allow you to save specific pages or articles for offline use, especially in another App like Evernote or Documents 5. Newspaper Apps, in particular, often access articles behind paywalls, so even if you were to share the article via an email link, your recipient would not be able to read them, unless they are a subscriber. What you really need is some way to clip the article for posterity without restrictions.
For instance, I often read magazines in Kindle and Zinio. Sometimes, I come across a great article that I’d like to keep for posterity. And I really want to save the article as an OCR PDF, so that a search on text within the article on my device (or, computer) can find the article in future. How are you going to do that with any of the Apps listed above?
The simple answer is ReadIris – an oft overlooked OCR app from I.R.I.S. SA.
Here’s what you do.
First, take a snapshot of each page you want to keep. On the iPad / iPhone, you do this by pressing the power and main touch button, simultaneously. Scroll through each and every page and snapshot them. All the pages will then end up in your camera roll. If you are using an iPad Air or iPhone 6 and beyond, you will get very high resolution images, which are crucial for good OCR.
Second, go into your Photo App, choose ‘Select’ and then select each and every image that you want to include. Then, choose the share button and select ‘Copy’. This puts all the images into the virtual ‘clipboard’, so you can share them with another application.
Third, open up ReadIris and choose to create a new document from the ‘clipboard’. This will import your pages in the same order as which they were put into the camera roll. Now, when you choose to export the final file to your favourite app (for example, Evernote or Documents 5), ReadIris will OCR the pages and turn them into a single text-searchable PDF that is exported to your favourite application.
It’s that easy to clip your favourite articles and save them for posterity!