Microsoft releases Office Lens for Windows Phone to save text from photos

Optical character recognition technology has long helped consumers and businesses convert photographs of text to document format, and now Microsoft is bringing that technology to a friendly format for Windows Phone users, releasing the Office Lens app for the smartphone operating system.

The camera app, available for download via the Windows Phone Store, transcribes text from photos of objects such as whiteboards, printed documents and business cards, saving them to OneNote for access later. Three modes are available for different scenarios – photo, whiteboard and document. In whiteboard mode, for instance, the app will make photos more readable, trimming and fixing glare and shadows; the document mode makes similar adjustments. Photos are stored both locally and in OneNote, which also stores the text data.

Office Lens provides visual cues in each mode to indicate what will be trimmed from photos for the best possible reproduction. In document mode, backgrounds will be highlighted with a translucent white, indicating what will be trimmed out, while the document itself will appear in full color.

To use the app's text recognition features, a Microsoft Account is required, as OneNote is the only way to access the information. The account used for the app must be the same one associated with the Windows Phone device running it. The release coincides with Microsoft releasing a new OneNote app for Macs and making both it and its Windows desktop counterpart free.

Source: Windows Phone Store

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20 Comments

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I don't get it

The app allows you to take a photo of a poster, then saves the text from the image as well as a straightened image?
I took a photo of a newspaper headline, which it sorted the skewing, but in no way can I save the text so I can send it in a message or whatever.

I would rarely use this app I think

Sir Topham Hatt said,
I don't get it

The app allows you to take a photo of a poster, then saves the text from the image as well as a straightened image?
I took a photo of a newspaper headline, which it sorted the skewing, but in no way can I save the text so I can send it in a message or whatever.

I would rarely use this app I think


The text is stored on OneNote. Also make sure you're in document mode.

This is a solid app created by Microsoft. More apps of this type and nobody has to worry about the billion apps in my app store race!

To use the app's text recognition features, a Microsoft Account is required, as OneNote is the only way to access the information.

A MS Account is required, but OneNote usage is not.

Since the image is also stored on the Camera Roll and thus is synced to OneDrive, once on OneDrive, the images are OCR processed as well for search results.


A WP8/Bing tip in general for OCR:
It is worth mentioning that the built in Search on WP8 already does full OCR, just hit the search button, click the 'Vision' icon, and click 'Scan Text'. Touch the ... and select 'copy all'.

You can then paste the text into any email, text message, or Office App. It is actually quite good and is better than retyping a document that you need to get to someone fast in an editable format.

Mulsivaas said,
I noticed it says it supports Windows Phone 8.1. Interesting move.
All apps in the Windows Phone Store say they support Windows Phone 8.1, might be a bug, or some serious awesomeness coming soon.

Studio384 said,
All apps in the Windows Phone Store say they support Windows Phone 8.1, might be a bug, or some serious awesomeness coming soon.

This started happening recently. Just guessing, but I think it is because all the Apps are being server side compiled for 8.1. (WP Apps can be server side compiled/optimized, just as WP7 Apps are recompiled for when they used on WP8 devices.)

Sounds similar to what I do. Except I scan as a pic then convert to PDF.

Its better if not clearer, than doing the same thing using an OCR program

Ducky Swansworth said,
Well, if it's that poor that is misses out all those arrows, a few underlines, and a block of text then I'd rather not use it.

I saved those images from windowsphone.com and didn't notice it. The uploader must have uploaded the wrong images. The app can't just miss such big drawings, considering that it managed to capture even smaller ones.

John.D said,
Sounds similar to what I do. Except I scan as a pic then convert to PDF.

Its better if not clearer, than doing the same thing using an OCR program

Or if you have WP8, you can just hit the Search button, hit Scan Text, hit ..., hit Copy All and then paste the text directly into a message, email or App. OCR is built into the Bing Vision of WP8.

(Then hit the camera button and take an image of the document and let OneDrive make it text searchable instead of jumping through hoops with PDF conversion, OCR, etc.)

Yay! I was waiting for this to be released publically. Just tried it on some whiteboards and even a scribble I did on a paper and it works AWESOMELY, even at skewed angles.

Shadowzz said,
There was an app for this already. Microsoft even helped promoting it not to long ago

Yeah but it was under private beta. When you tried to install, it said you can't. Now it works for everyone

The App I'm talking about is CamScanner. Not a BETA. paid app by 3rd party devs, which MS promoted by giving it away for free for some reason (forgot which, but there was one)

Shadowzz said,
The App I'm talking about is CamScanner. Not a BETA. paid app by 3rd party devs, which MS promoted by giving it away for free for some reason (forgot which, but there was one)

CamScanner has somewhat different use cases though