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App Spotlight: FineReader Touch brings multi-lingual OCR scanning to iOS

Need to convert a paper document into editable text? This app does it--in your choice of 42 languages

There are plenty of apps that can turn your phone into the equivalent of a mobile scanner, using the camera to take snapshots of various documents, then letting you file and/or share those documents.

Ah, but what if you need more than just scanning and sharing? ABBYY's FineReader Touch for iOS performs OCR on the fly, converting printed documents into text you can edit, search, and more.

This isn't the first app to offer such convenience, but it may be the most multi-lingual one: FineReader Touch supports an impressive 42 languages, from Abkhazian to Ukrainian. In fact, it supports up to three different languages in the same document.

For anyone who routinely works with international clients, that could be a boon indeed. (Note that the app doesn't translate foreign-language documents; it can simply convert them to text in those native languages.)

FineReader Touch works about like you'd expect: You tap the camera icon, then take a picture of the page. (It can also access your photo album if you want it to work on existing snapshots.) If it's a multi-page document, just keep snapping until you're done.

At that point you can tweak the output settings if need be, including choosing a format for the converted document: Word, Excel, PDF, plain text, Rich Text, and so on. You can also choose the language(s) and add any desired tags.

I ran a quick test of the app on a single sheet with clearly printed text. Within a couple minutes, FineReader Touch had returned a Word document converted with 100-percent accuracy. (It did this by uploading the image to ABBYY's server, then download the converted document. Ergo, it requires an Internet connection.)

That document could be viewed in FineReader Touch proper, delivered directly to Evernote, printed, or shared via email.

The app costs $4.99, a price that includes 100 pages' worth of OCR. You can buy more credit from within the app: 20 pages for $2.99, 50 for $4.99, and so on. If you often need this kind of functionality, I think the convenience is well worth the price.

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