Business cards are alive and well, but the days of the leather-bound card holder are numbered. As the business world goes increasingly mobile, app developers have released a number of free and paid solutions for organizing an ever-growing business card collection. Today, we’re taking a look at five free business card readers for Android, each of which has available a premium version.
Biz Cards Viewer Carda Lite
While it doesn’t have an optical character recognition (OCR) feature, Carda Lite for Android is simple and easy to use. Just open up the app and snap a photo of the business card — front and/or back — and it will be added to the app’s card holder. Carda Lite allows you to share business cards with colleagues and also allows you to easily dial the number on the card without leaving the app. You can also connect a business card with a contact that exists in your device’s contact list.
Manually editable fields include the date you met the contact, groups, tags, notes, and the phonetic name. Most of these editable fields can be entered using a voice recognition feature, which partially makes up for the lack of OCR. Cards can be searched by the manually entered information or browsed visually in grid or single card views. The app also allows you to crop, brighten, backup, replace, and delete cards.
The premium version is $4.99 and removes the 200 card limit and the mobile ads, which are not at all obtrusive in the free version.
CamCard Lite allows you to manage cards across multiple devices seamlessly. However, if you don’t need to share cards across devices, you can simply use the mobile app with no sign in, which is pretty cool given that everybody and their dog wants to capture your data these days.
The best part of CamCard Lite (get it for Android or iPhone) is its built-in OCR card reader that did a decent job of picking out and rendering the text on the card. As can be expected, the OCR reader failed when used on small type against a colored background. CamCard also did a fair job at picking out addresses and website URLs if they were properly formatted (i.e. not made overly clever by the designer) and were set with strong contrasting colors. CamCard automatically trims the card upon taking the photo.
Here’s the kicker… you can only save up to 20 cards and then every week thereafter you can save another two cards. If you want more, you either have to share the app via your social media channels or purchase the premium version for $11.99, which makes it the most expensive app on our list.
ScanBizCards LIte’s Web Sync feature uploads your card collection to the scanbizcards.com website, where it can be accessed by multiple devices and via a desktop application. The chief limitation of the free version of the app is that only two cards per week can be added to your device’s address book, but it does allow you to add more business cards to the app’s card holder.
After taking the photo of the business card, you can manually trim the card and click ‘scan’ to run the OCR feature. The OCR quality varied between 100% accuracy and totally destroying the text, depending on the size and clarity of the type. As with most OCR scanners, ScanBizCards Lite’s (get it for Android or iPhone) OCR reader did very well on a simple card with black text on a white background but fell short on smaller type over colored backgrounds.
Additional features include adding the card to your address book (see limitation above); sorting cards by date, name, and company; editing cards; transcribing cards manually; organizing cards by folder; and adding cards out of your device’s photo album. If you’re feeling particularly stressed for time, you can also pay $0.18 per card and ScanBizCards will transcribe it for you!
The premium version is $6.99.
Business Cards Organized
If you are looking for a no-frills way to get your business cards onto your smartphone, look no further than Business Cards Organized for Android. The app allows you to take a photo of a business card, manually transcribe the data on the card, and add the card to the app’s card holder. There are only two data fields: name and description. Additional features include the ability to backup cards to a ZIP file, restore cards, and export to HTML for desktop browsing. As with the other apps, Business Cards Organized allows you to add a second photo to the card (e.g the back of the card or a photo of the card holder).
The premium version runs $3.96 and simply removes the ads from the app, which are not overly obtrusive to begin with.
WorldCard Mobile Lite
WorldCard Mobile Lite (get it for Android or iPhone) limits you to just 50 business cards but does offer a couple of good features. For starters, when you take a photo of the card it automatically trims, which is nice for keeping everything neat and clean. After the card has been trimmed, clicking ‘done’ imports the OCR reading into a manually editable format. Like the other OCR readers, it failed on smaller type when the type was on a colored background. But, there’s a ‘Partial OCR’ feature that gives you the ability to select text for any specific field and give it another go with the OCR reader focusing on only the selected text. Using ‘Partial OCR’ was marginally more accurate than the first pass scan, but not nearly 100%. However, it’s quicker than entering each item manually if the initial scan didn’t grab all the text and enter it into the correct fields.
The card holder allows you to easily text, call, email, or visit the card holder’s website. Cards can also be exported to different formats, but there are limitations that are lifted in the paid version of the app. Speaking of, the premium version costs $5.99 and lifts the 50 card limit, allows restoration of the backup file, and removes the aforementioned export/import limitations.