photo36I can remember when I was handed my first business card. I always thought they were used as a means of saying: “Hey, look at me! I’m sooooo important, I have a special card to handout to people, showing how important I am!”

Yesterday As I grew up and entered the professional world, I realized that these cards were actually useful, but were a total pain in the expletive. Currently, my organizer has a section devoted to storing/displaying business cards and I’ve amassed quite a few, but I don’t know who’s where, offering what at whatever phone number/email address. I might as well just use them for kindle; at least I would know where they’re not.

Furthermore, I don’t carry my organizer with me everywhere I go:

Not Me: “Hey Jason, let’s go play a pick-up game of two-on-two!”

Me: “Okay, let me just grab my organizer in case anyone we play has a business card they want to show off/give me,”

OR

Not Me: “Hey Jason, let’s go graffiti the side of the tattoo shop!”

Me: “Okay, let me just grab my organizer, in case one of the cops wants to network with me.”

When I acquired my iPhone, however, all that changed. It replaced my organizer and is always with me. And if someone wants to give me a business card, regardless of the time, location, cell block, etc., there is now “an app for that.” Actually, there are several apps, but I’ll focus this review comparison on three:

Application Version Price
ScanBizCards [App Store] 2.60 $5.99
Business Card Reader [App Store] 1.2.1 $5.99
WorldCard Mobile [App Store] 1.2.4 $5.99

In reviewing these apps, I’m specifically looking for (in no particular order):

1. Menu interface/Aesthetics
2. Image quality
3. Scanning accuracy/data recognition technology capabilities using the app’s built-in camera features
4. Scanning accuracy/data recognition technology capabilities using a pre-selected image
5. iPhone Contacts integration
6. Storage features
7. Stand-out/Special features


1. Menu Interface/Aesthetics

All three apps have a straightforward, user-friendly interface, but Business Card Reader’s aesthetic value clearly separates itself from the other two. It has a leather aesthetic and its elegant display and options are neatly tabbed, centered and color-coded:

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After a photo is taken using Business Card Reader, it scans the image using a very cool highlighted line that moves the length of the image:

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Advantage: Business Card Reader

2. Image quality

Image quality is consistently good across the board. All three apps provide quality scans and use the camera’s built-in auto focus. However, Business Card Reader features image stabilization, while the other two do not.

Advantage: All

3. Scanning accuracy/data recognition technology capabilities using the app’s built-in camera features

ScanBizCards’ data recognition technology only made two errors during the scanning/analyzing process:

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Subsequent scans of the same card, using the cropping tool to highlight only pertinent information, would result in similar errors:

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I then scanned the same card using Business Card Reader and it’s data recognition technology impressively recognized all the data displayed on the card. Of the three, only Business Card Reader consistently scanned business cards resulting in contact fields being properly and accurately populated:

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When using WorldCard Mobile, it scanned a portion of the card’s data correctly:

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But trying to repeatedly get it to properly scan the field it missed (email address) proved to be an exercise in frustration and the results made no sense:

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Advantage: Business Card Reader

4. Scanning accuracy/data recognition technology capabilities using a preselected image

Using the Control Image posted above, I tested each application’s scanning accuracy using their individual preselected image option. All three applications produced results consistent with scanning images taken using the built-in camera (WorldCard Mobile even duplicated its email address recognition problem):

ScanBizCards

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Business Card Reader

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WorldCard Mobile

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Advantage: Business Card Reader

5. iPhone Contacts Integration

All three applications consistently integrate contacts/contact information from users’ scanned cards into their current contacts.

After scanning a business card, ScanBizCards’s users can add the information, as is, into their Address Book or make corrections before doing so. Custom fields and notes can also be added to the contact. Once the contact is added into the user’s Address Book, ScanBizCards offers to send the cardholder a Quick Intro, in the form of an email, to which you can attach your own contact info. Users can also connect to LinkedIn, send the card to a friend or add a follow-up reminder:

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With Business Card Reader, once your image/card is scanned, you can enter or integrate it into your contacts. Business Card Reader also features a LinledIn Lookup option, containing a built-in browser which allows users to see if that particular contact has a LinkedIn account. Users can view the contact’s Full Profile and save the link for future reference/purposes.

After its initial scan, WorldCard Mobile automatically populates contact fields and gives users the option to add/integrate the contact information into their existing contacts. It also allows its users to select a portion of the card, using a blue crop box, to select text for analysis. After selecting text, users are prompted to select 1 of 11 categories: Name, Company, Department, Job Title, Phone, Mobile, Work Fax, Email, URL, Address and Photo.

Advantage: All

6. Storage Features

From ScanBizCards’s main menu, users can access their library of saved/stored business cards (in the app and on the Camera Roll). Accessing stored cards from the main menu provides users with the options of calling the contact, sending an SMS, emailing the card holder or visiting a/any URL listed on the card (provided it’s analyzed by its data recognition technology ). Users can also rescan the card and adjust its orientation and view their stored cards in 3D (much like Apple’s Cover Flow):

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Business Card Reader users can view their stored business cards via the Card Holder option on Business Card Reader’s main screen. The app displays your stored cards and selecting a card gives the user the option to save the image to their Camera Roll, view and edit contact information and delete the card:

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Conversely, WorldCard Mobile offers no built-in storage options. Cards/images are stored and selected from the user’s Camera Roll or Photo Library.

Advantage: ScanBizCards and Business Card Reader

7. Stand-out/Special Features

ScanBizCards really stands out in this area. It’s feature-rich and offers several features not found in the other two apps. From the main menu, users can access My Reminders, a feature which allows them to see their reminders in their Calendar and receive alerts. My Reminders also features a built-in Help/FAQ (the main screen also provides users with an Information icon that contains links to many useful resources, as well as additional help information). Prior to taking a picture, ScanBizCards offers a help screen, providing users with tips when taking pictures. After taking a picture, ScanBizCards enables its users to adjust the cropping area by sliding a 4×4 grid of green boxes accordingly:

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ScanBizCards also allows its users to crop out logos and unessential text prior to scanning. It highlights phone numbers, etc. after scanning and allows users to touch the highlighted section to dial straight from the scanned image. Users can also rescan portions of an image, allowing them to rescan sections around a logo.

As stated earlier, once a contact is added into the user’s Address Book, ScanBizCards offers to send the cardholder a Quick Intro, in the form of an email, to which users can attach their own contact info. Users can also connect to LinkedIn, send the card to a friend or add a follow-up reminder.

Accessing stored cards from ScanBizCards’ main menu provides users with the options of calling the contact, sending an SMS, emailing the card holder or visiting a/any URL listed on the card (provided it’s analyzed by its data recognition technology ). Users can also rescan the card and adjust its orientation. Users can also view their stored cards in 3D (much like Apple’s Cover Flow):

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Stored cards can also be sorted by Name, Company and Date, in ascending or descending order. In addition, users can create new folders to further categorize their cards and also export multiple cards to Excel CSV.

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When taking photos, Business Card Reader contains a built-in stabilization feature. While taking a picture, pressing anywhere on the screen turns the white, on-screen image edges red. When the camera is stabilized, the red edge indicators turn green and the picture is taken:

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Business Card Reader also contains a LinledIn Lookup feature, containing a built-in browser which allows users to see if that particular contact has a LinkedIn account. Users can view the contact’s Full Profile and save the link for future reference/purposes.

Advantage: ScanBizCards

Summary

While I encountered problems with WorldCard Mobile, I really wanted it to work. In its current state and at its current price I simply can’t recommend this app. All I can say is get well soon. I’m on your side and will be here for you in the future.

Both ScanBizCards and Business Card Reader have a lot to offer, but in different areas.

Business Card Reader performed better than the other two programs and is a solid, reliable, visually aesthetic business card reader.

ScanBizCards is rich in features and, while I did experience problems with its data recognition, its impressive array of features/options offers solace to users who don’t mind encountering hiccups in what should be an autonomous process.

If you’re looking for a quality business card reader that performs as advertised with minimal effort on the user’s part, I’d recommend Business Card Reader.

If you’re looking for a feature-rich business card reader and the prospect of having to manually assist the app on occasion doesn’t bother you, ScanBizCards is probably the option for you.

Either way, you can finally toss that stack of business cards you forgot about until this review reminded you of their existence.

Look for individual reviews of these applications coming soon.

$0.99
$1.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-10-28 :: Category: Business

$6.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-10-31 :: Category: Business

$6.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-11-03 :: Category: Business

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