When you need to make a note of a phone number, URL or email address, it is common to find that you have neither pen nor paper to hand. You likely, however, to be carrying your iPhone so you could jot down the information as a note or a contact - but typing in this way can be too slow. ABBYY MailGrabber enables you to use your iPhone camera to do the hard work.

The app comes from OCR specialists ABBYY, so it should come as no surprise that it has been designed to capture and recognise words and numbers in newspapers and magazines or printed on business cards, and convert them into a useable form. Captured phone numbers can be dialled, email addresses used and URL visited - you can also opt to copy the data to the clipboard, create a contact, or send the information onto someone else.

All of this sounds great in theory, but there are problems. Firstly, iPhone 3G owners can only use the app in conjunction with special case from Griffin. iPhone 3G S and 4 owners so not need such a case, but will find that the app fares badly as recognising addresses and numbers placed in front of the camera. Time spent taking numerous photos could be better spent actually typing into your phone.

The poor performance of the app is not the only thing to count against it. Although ABBYY's range of 'Grabber' apps fall into the cheapest price bracket, separating the PhoneGrabber, MailGrabber anf LinkGrabber tools into three individual apps is undisguised money-making - the three options could, and should, have been easily included in a single low cost app.

Verdict

A good idea for an app, but performance is poor and the splitting of three similar products is a bad move