Ai Squared have just released an iPhone app called ZoomReader into the Apple store priced at £11.99. It’s a camera app that OCRs an image into text and then reads it back. There are, of course, other apps that can do this already, Prizmo (£5.99) being a good one but it does have a really nice feature where you can make the phone act like a CCTV and display text using a choice of high contrast colours. You can also use your voice to “Zoom in”, “Zoom out” and “Take picture”. The OCR seems fairly accurate but like Prizmo you can’t select where you can start the reading from. You need to start from the beginning. At least with Prizmo you can fast forward through sections although if it’s a long document this can get a bit tedious. With ZoomReader though you get highlighting of the text as it’s read. Just sentance by sentance unfortunately but hopefully they’ll add some options so that you can have each word highlighted like TextHelp Read and Write on the PC.
It will be interesting to see how ZoomReader develops over the coming months. There are a few problems and it is a little buggy. There are a few limitations like you can’t rotate or crop the image in any way and you have to always start the read back from the beginning and can’t jump straight into the middle of a file but it’s a good app and has a lot of potential.
Other Text to Speech and OCR apps
Speak it! (£1.19) for the iPhone has no camera OCR, you need to copy and paste text in, but then you can have this text read to you. You can also save this as an audio file. If only Apple wasn’t such a control freak as this would open up your phone to custom and comedy spoken ring tones. I guess if you’re jail broken you can do this? You can select a word or phrase, or move the cursor and move from that location. It doesn’t do word highlighting as such but if you highlight the first word as if you were going to copy it, it does then move this copy highlight along as each word is read out.
Read2Me (£2.99) has had a few problems crashing but after deleting it and reinstalling it everything now seems to work fine and I’m really glad I gave it another go. You can now import documents from Google Docs which is a really nice feature. You can double-click a word and then read from that location but it’s a bit hit and miss to whether this works or not.
Prizmo is a great app that can OCR an image and read this back to you. It saves the image and text within the app which is a nice feature as you don’t have to OCR the image when you want to read something again. It also has a business card scanner that will fill in the contacts form automatically so you can add people to your contacts without typing anything in.
Perfect OCR (£2.39) is good for converting images to text but has no read back facility.