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Microsoft releases scanning app Office Lens to rivals iOS, Android (+video)

Continuing with its plans to extend its customer base through open access, Microsoft announced on Thursday that it will now make its document scanning app, Office Lens, available to iOS and Android devices.

On Thursday, Microsoft announced it will be releasing a version of its document scanning app, Office Lens, for iOS and Android devices. A year after its initial launch, Office Lens, which was previously only compatible with Windows Phones using OneNote, will now be available on all three major phone operating systems.

The app works by allowing users to take a picture of paper documents – receipts, business cards, menus, sticky notes, whiteboards, etc. – and then scans the image for text.

Using optical character recognition (OCR), Office Lens can identify words within the image and translate the text into a Microsoft Office format, such as a Word document, PowerPoint, or PDF. The app is even smart enough to recognize the corners of a piece of paper and automatically crop the image, or generate a picture of a business card into a new contact on your phone. 

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The OCR also allows for users to search their scanned documents later using a keyword search in Microsoft’s OneNote or cloud storage site, OneDrive.

Office Lens functions like most of the scanning-app competition that it will now face in Apple’s App Store and the Google Play store. The app will be up against the likes of Scanner Pro, TinyScan Pro, Scanbot, Evernote, and many more.

Microsoft has been looking to expand its audience by opening up access to its products. The company recently partnered with Samsung and other Android proponents to open its apps to more handheld devices, in addition to releasing Microsoft Office for the iPad. The tech giant even made its digital assistant, Cortana, available on rival devices. 

Office Lens can be downloaded for free in the iOS or Android app stores, and even though the app will be facing stiff competition, its average rating of 4.6 stars (out of 5) is a good sign for the future of Office Lens.

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