Office Lens is an optical character recognition utility that interfaces with the Microsoft ecosystem and allows you to convert writing into actual word documents.
- Convert text from photos into editable documents
- Results can be formatted to most Microsoft Office platforms
- Doesn't require a Microsoft account
- Completely free to use
- One of the best OCRs on the market
- Smooth integration with MS products
- Complicated textures or curves can give it difficulty
- Limited use as a trusted and regular app
It would be hard to argue that Microsoft has fallen a bit behind the pack with its competition in the past few years. Despite their more proprietary approach to software and hardware, Apple remains the cool kid with the slick designs and cutting edge approaches to new technology (albeit at a premium you can't expect to pay with a PC), while Google has blurred the line between OS provider and software developer with a wide and expansive suite of cloud-hosted platforms that make much of the packaged operating system software obsolete and begin to transition users away from a local, desktop based interface more towards a global, browser-based approach to how they interact with their computers and their world. For a while, it felt like Microsoft was lagging behind, but recent efforts have shown that the long-living giant still has some life left in it. Primarily, this can be seen in the move towards Office 360 as a global, cloud-based alternative to the Google suite. By compressing all of their standard software packages into one interface, they've demonstrated their willingness to subscribe to the software as a service model, bu that can't be accomplished without a reach and ever evolving flow of new technology. Microsoft Office Lens is the company's way of demonstrating that they can hang. It's a clever little piece of software that's cross compatible with Google and Apple platforms, but it's not the sort of game changer that will exactly set the world on fire. Microsoft's marketing team might say that Office Lens tears down the wall between the real world and the virtual world, or they may philosophize about the "internet of things", but Microsoft Office Lens is fundamentally just a very well functioning optical character recognition system. What this means is that you can point your phone at a whiteboard, notebook, or other physical object with written or printed text, take a picture, and trust the Office Lens to convert it into an actual document you can edit. But the slick interface and neat functions make Officee Lens one of the better OCR products on the market. The smart AI will automatically identify what it thinks is text and draw a square around it, reducing the need for user input. This is a piece of software built for automatic integration into the Microsoft Office format, and it accomplishes that with aplomb. Conversion into OneNote, OneDrive, Powerpoint, or Word formats is a simple click away, and standard gallery and PDF saves are also available. What you save will automatically be converted into a document. Especially cool is the face that URLs, phone numbers, and emails will automatically be converted to links, so that you can access them with a simple click of a button. That makes adding a new person to your contact list as simple as snapping a picture of their business card. It may be a basic piece of software, but it's exceedingly cool, and it deserves a place in the library of anyone who's bought into the Microsoft ecosystem.