Optical character recognition, also known as OCR, is really an amazing technology. If you aren't familiar, it takes images and reads the text on them. For PDFs, it can make the words it finds searchable, selectable, and whatever else you may want to do with them. The better implementations of OCR work well enough that they pretty much make CAPTCHAs pointless. And while Google Drive has offered this function in English for over a year now, it is now rolling it out to over 200 different languages.
Remember Flow, Amazon's augmented reality shopping aid that kinda sorta worked? Well now you don't have to, because the functionality has been rolled into the main Amazon shopping app. Now you can scan barcodes and even full products (at least some of the time) to compare their prices to everyone's favorite online megamart. And incidentally, you don't need a second app to do it.
The Flow features work best with a barcode, but the camera scanner will try to identify anything.
Heads up, Google Wallet fans: better support for loyalty cards is coming to a Play Store update near you. According to a Google+ update from the Wallet team earlier today, the app will soon be able to auto-populate information when scanning in loyalty cards, presumably including the name and merchant. The update should be coming later this week, at least for the first batch of users. There are also some user interface changes, including a modified slide-out menu.
There are a lot of security apps for Android that go a little ways into overkill territory. Whether you're talking about superfluous task managers or "virus scanners" that may provide some minimal protection while generating more fear than is warranted, Android has a persistent problem with companies applying a Windows-era mentality on a completely different OS. Secunia PSI, however, takes the cake for being one of the least effective apps on the Play Store.
When we first discovered Slice, the app that scans your email for packages that you're waiting to be delivered, has updated to version 2.0 and brought a host of new features with it. For starters, if you use Hotmail, AOL, or iCloud as your primary email, you can now join in the fun. You can track outgoing packages by scanning tracking barcodes as well or entering the number manually, and filtering options have been improved.
Amazon-owned development house A9 Innovations has released a product search app built on the idea that instead of tapping buttons to take pictures of products, you'd rather just point your camera at products. Probably not a bad notion! Not exactly the most important thing to spend a bunch of money and time developing, but hey, if you can just wave your phone in front of a movie and get pricing and review information, it's gotta be worth it, right?
We at Android Police take our mobile security pretty seriously. It's in the job description. Entering the realm of mobile security today is yet another contender on the good side of the battle: VirusTotal has released its client for Android. Prior to this, VirusTotal was a simple website where you can upload suspicious files to be scanned by a multitude of antivirus engines. Having provided this desktop OS-oriented service for several years now, VirusTotal has brought its experience and expertise to mobile.
ShoeBox, an app that represents 1000memories' first foray into the Play Store, is an awesome digital photo organizer, "turning your Android device into a mobile photo scanner," and allowing for sophisticated organization, storage, and sharing of your treasured paper photos.
For those that can't exactly hold their device with machine precision when scanning old photos, ShoeBox offers edge detection and perspective correction, ensuring that your newly-digitized photos won't be distorted or misshapen.
How's this for amazing? You see a piece of sheet music, but you can't read it because you're a plebian, or perhaps you can read it but you want to hear it. SnapNPlay is an app that lets you take a picture of a line of sheet music and then plays back the notes on the page. This is amazing.
The app itself looks a little rough around the edges right now, but the concept is wonderful.
In the never-ending move to digitize and mobilize your entire world, some areas (like banking) are slower than others (like email). When the old guard does update, though, usually we get something pretty cool. Rite Aid is the latest entry to join in the mobile world and it's bringing with it yet another piece of the future: scanning pill bottles to refill your prescriptions.
It's not the first app to implement this kind of feature, but it's always welcome to see more options.