Abbyy TextGrabber + Translator for iPhone and iPod touch review

We have long wanted a portable scanner to grab texts from books and magazines. We’d tried a pen scanner, but the results were abysmal. Abbyy TextGrabber + Translator offers both OCR and translation, using just the camera on an iPhone or iPod touch. 

Best language translation apps for iPhone

We scanned texts from books, magazines and printouts, in a variety of lightings. You need to hold your iPhone steady for about 10 seconds so the camera can focus, then tap a button to take a photo. The app lets you crop the photo, and scans the text. Recognition was best with narrow texts, where the scanned words were fairly large. However, the app puts hard line breaks at the end of each line, so text can be hard to read and may require editing. It would be useful if there were a function to remove line breaks. 

Scanning and recognition worked better on matte paper. On glossy paper recognition was much poorer, and magazine paper is often thin, so text from the back of the page comes through, making it harder to interpret. 

Abbyy TextGrabber + Translator can also translate from more than 40 languages. As long as the text is recognised correctly, the translations are very good. If recognition is not perfect, you need to edit the text before translating, which isn't ideal, since you probably don’t know the language well enough to edit it.

Scanning an article from a copy of Macworld on glossy paper results in a fairly poor scan and the recognition has a few errors

 

OUR VERDICT

This app offers decent recognition for certain types of texts, and, as long as the recognition is good, the translation feature is useful. But don’t expect it to work with every type of paper.

Find the best price