Microsoft Office has expanded its family of tools with Office Lens for Android, a free app that lets you take photos of documents with your smartphone and adapt the perspective so that they view as if they’d been scanned. In addition, it integrates an OCR detector that allows you to export images and turn them into editable text documents, among other functionalities.

To get good results it’s essential to keep in mind two things when you take the photo: good lighting, and enough contrast between the page to be captured and the background. If you capture the content of a blackboard the limits are sure to be easy to detect and thus the resizing and change of the perspective will be done correctly, but if you capture a page on a white table or one that has folded or frayed edges, the results won’t be as good.

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You can choose from three capture modes according to whether you want convert text, photos, or large surfaces, and you can also crop the photo before doing the process. The results are surprisingly good in most cases, although the OCR detection is limited to formatted text, meaning any photos or handwriting will be read as a flat image. That done, you can export the result to different apps or as a local copy in your image gallery.

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Unfortunately, the export methods are intimately linked with Microsoft products (which makes sense, of course), so if you want to take advantage of OCR text detection you’ll have to use your online Microsoft account to export the document to OneNote, Word, or the online text editor available on OneDrive.

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