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Microsoft today launched Office Lens for iPhone and Android phones. The app, which first debuted on Windows Phone, lets you use your phone’s camera to take pictures of text and send it directly to OneNote.

You can download Office Lens for iPhone now directly from Apple’s App Store. The Android version is in preview, as is typical when Microsoft releases new apps (there are simply many more Android devices to test for). You can get it by going to Office Lens Android Preview page on Google+, clicking “Join community” in the upper right-hand corner, and hitting “Become a Tester” under About this community.

Microsoft says Office Lens works best for taking pictures of menus, receipts, sticky notes, documents, business cards, and whiteboards. You can then share the resulting document with friends or coworkers. In short, the app turns your smartphone into a pocket scanner.


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The app’s full feature list is as follows:

  • Recognizes the corners of a document — automatically crops, enhances, and cleans up the image.
  • Identifies printed text with optical character recognition (OCR) so that you can search by keyword for the image in OneNote or OneDrive.
  • Converts images of paper documents and whiteboard notes into Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, and PDF files for easy editing and reformatting.
  • Captures business cards and generates contacts you can add to your phone.
  • Inserts images to OneNote or OneDrive (as DOCX, PPTX, JPG or PDF format) and gives you options to save, export, and share the image.

Microsoft first launched Office Lens for Windows Phone in March 2014. The company has been updating it on a semi-regular basis ever since, including in September 2014 when it added the ability to export captures to Word and PowerPoint files that are then automatically saved to OneDrive.


For Word, Office Lens preserves the text, formatting, layout, and images of the captured document. For PowerPoint, all handwritten lines and strokes are transformed into drawing objects that can be recolored, resized, repositioned, and edited.

Since its debut, Microsoft says Office Lens for Windows Phone has become one of the most popular free apps on the platform, with an average rating of 4.6 stars (out of 5) from more than 18,500 reviews. The app will have a lot more competition on Android and iOS, though also potentially a much larger user base.

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