January App Review: Tiny Scanner

App: Tiny Scanner
Developer: Appxy
Price: Free
Platforms: iOS, Android

After switching from Evernote to the new iOS Notes app (more on that in a future post), I lost the excellent Evernote document scanner.  Because of that, I needed a new app.  Enter Tiny Scanner.


Tiny Scanner is a simple app that pretty much does what it says.  You point the phone at a document and take a picture.  After that, it automatically selects what it thinks the region of the photo that contains the page, and you adjust that as needed.

Then the magic happens.  Have you ever taken a picture of a document with the camera app?  I’m guessing the photo didn’t come out very well.  I mean, I’m sure it was usable, but it’s certainly not pretty.  The paper is an off-white, the page probably isn’t completely straight, and there’s a big shadow of your hand on half the page.  Tiny Scanner processes the photo into black and white, with a truly white background and nice, crisp, dark text.

And that’s honestly about it.  You can choose between a black and white document, a color document, or just the unprocessed photo.  You can also choose how dark the text is, sort of like a photocopier.  Then you just save it as a PDF, and share it to any app.

One more cool thing – what happens if you already took that awful, discolored, crooked photo?  You could go dig up the original document again, or you can simply import the photo in Tiny Scanner, and it’ll do it’s regular processing.  Neat!

There’s lots of share options that Tiny Scanner gives you, but most of them require the $5 Pro version.  However, if you click “Open In,” you’ll get the default iOS share sheet (which I prefer to almost any app-generated share sheet), you can share to Notes, Evernote, Dropbox, and many other apps.  Since I’m using the Notes app, that means I don’t need the Pro version.  One more limitation with the free version: you can only have two scans saved in the app at one time.  Again, since I’m exporting everything to Notes, this isn’t really an issue, but it’s sort of a pain to have to delete old documents every time.

A document scanner was basically the only thing I lost when I jumped ship from Evernote, and Tiny Scanner filled that gap nicely.  It looks nice, it’s simple to use, and it works great.  What more could I ask for?  ••

November App Review: Evernote

App: Evernote
Developer: Evernote
Price: Free
Platforms: iOS, Android

I’ve mentioned Evernote several times before, both while talking about iOS widgets and Mac apps, so it made sense to write a full app review of it.  Evernote is an app I use every day, for all kinds of things, and it’s good at what it does.  I’m going to focus this review on the three things I primarily use Evernote for: memos, working towards being paperless, and school.


The reason I originally got Evernote was just for a simple alternative to the iOS Notes app.  I was generally happy with Notes, except that syncing took place through my IMAP email account, so that meant that changes didn’t carry over to other devices immediately.  I got tired of this and decided to give Evernote a try.  Honestly, if this is all you use Evernote for, it’s a little overkill, and the Notes app is actually simpler and easier to use.  However, it works well enough, and by downloading the app I was found out about its other useful features.

Like the document scanner.  I’m not a paperless fanatic, but I often find myself with a sheet of paper that I will most likely never need again, but I can’t quite bring myself to throw away.  I’ve taken to snapping a picture of these and putting it in Evernote, and then I can throw away the paper and stop worrying about it.  But here’s the cool part: Evernote’s camera isn’t just a camera.  If you take a picture of a document, Evernote will process the image, making the page white and the text darker.  It even does a pretty good job of removing your shadow on the page when you took the picture.  On top of all that, it attempts to OCR the documents, so that you can search them later.  I’ve found the searching to be hit or miss, but it’s still cool, and the scanner is great even without it.

The last thing I use Evernote for is for school documents.  Up until this semester, I was really just using Evernote for the two things above, barely tapping into its potential.  About a month into this semester though, I found myself staring at my Dropbox documents folder.  It was littered with all kinds of things – syllabi, teachers’ powerpoint slides, as well as documents I’d done myself to turn in as homework.  There was no organization.  I know I could’ve done that with folders, but it just didn’t seem as nice.  So I decided to throw all that stuff into Evernote, and I’ve been really happy with the results.  It’s great, because I have a pretty good mix of files from teachers, papers to scan, and just plain notes, and Evernote handles all of these together with ease.  I’ve got a notebook for each class I’m in, and Evernote makes it easy to keep everything all in one place.

Obviously then, I really like Evernote.  But I’ve been eyeing something else lately, the new iOS Notes app.  Notes finally are simply stored in iCloud, instead of on your mail server (an outdated system), so that fixes my aforementioned syncing problem.  The Notes app has also been updated to support documents, nicer looking links and pictures, and even drawing.  Not to mention, the Notes app interface is more straightforward than Evernote’s.  So I’m intrigued.  I’m not sure yet whether I’ll make the switch; I’m thinking I’ll try it next semester (instead of moving all my current school stuff over now), and see how it goes.  Even if I end up switching, though, I still think Evernote is a great tool for keeping things safe and organized, and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for something a little more robust than the stock Notes app.  ••