Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Google Keep - read text from an image

On my smartphone I often write notes. I want to record snippets of information especially when shopping but also to keep little reminders of things to do. I was using Microsoft OneNote for a long time (on Windows Phone and Android), it did and still does an excellent job. In fact I'd say it's one of the best note apps out there. However, OneNote is fully featured, it has folders for example and other fancy features. What about something simple? I looked at a few alternatives and then I came across Google Keep. It's really simple but I like the way it displays notes, like post-its but not post-its that are stuck all over, they are contained in the app. Keep is nice for the seamless integration with the desktop too, you can have a Chrome app for it and it means keeping notes and sharing them between devices is easy. Also, and this is why I'm writing this article, I came across an excellent feature...

Read text from an image
Suppose you are shopping and you want to research a product later. You take a photo and make some notes perhaps. Maybe the photo of the product has some words on the packaging? If so, it is possible to 'read' (scan!) these words into your Google Keep note. Here's how:

In Google Keep touch the Camera button, take a photo and it will insert the photo into your note. In the following screen shot you can see I took a photo of a light bulb:

On the box you can see there is some text, we can scan this into our note! 

Press the [...] button (as shown in the screen shot above)

Press Grab image text

The text will appear in the note body - see below:

It's pretty quick too and so far every time I've used it it's been accurate. The only problem seems to be when there's multiple columns of text, it can get the text mixed up. Otherwise, in most cases like the above, it works well. It's a useful time saver because, as text, you could copy/paste a model number or other information. OK, I know there are barcodes to read, but the above can still be a good way to get information and store it quickly. 

Google Keep is one of my favourite apps now. Just this morning (18th November 2014) I saw it was updated with the ability to share notes with others. This makes it even more useful. But I hope by adding functionality they will not take away the simplicity of this app, I like this about it more than anything. Scanning text from an image isn't anything new but doing it as part of note-taking is very useful. Again it's simplicity that's appealing. 'Keep' up the good work Google ;-)

Post a Comment