Manage business card scanning with CamCard [review]

BY David Gilson

Published 31 May 2013

Smartphones have become have replaced our address books and as such inputting information has become a new challenge. For those of us who move in circles where people exchange business cards, the task of input has been reduced to an issue of scanning.  CamCard is a popular business card scanner for iOS, here’s our review.

CamCard has an easy to navigate user interface making it easy to launch into the built-in camera interface or to choose a photo of a business card from your camera roll.

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The built-in camera has three modes: single, batch, and QR Code. The batch mode is handy for when you’ve been to a convention or meeting and collecting a lot of cards in one go. The QR code mode works instantly as intended is the most reliable way to picking up contact details.

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Whether you capture business cards via the app, or from the camera roll, the app does processing to remove perspective distortions and graininess of the paper. There are no settings to tweak (to coin a phrase) it just works.

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When it came to text recognition, CamCard impressed me in a few ways, but I found the results to be inconsistent. For a van hire company,  I recently used “Foxy Rentals”, CamCard consistently misinterpreted the contact name as “Cap and Van Hipe”. However, it would inconsistently recognise the address.

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When scanning my own business card, CamCard fared better when it came to working out which parts of the text were what, unlike with the van hire card. In my case, it identified my company as “Technology” and my position as “Journalist”, which while not correct I admired its effort and philosophical accuracy. What also impressed me was that it actually recognised Twitter as a field and correctly read off my Twitter ID as @davidgilson.

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When it comes to saving your contact information, CamCard lets you review and amend the information before saving. CamCard also allows you save to all of the accounts set up on your iPhone, plus CamCard’s own cloud sync service which can be viewed on the web. The contact edit screen also lets you merge the details with an existing contact. While reviewing and editing information scanned from a business card, there is a small area at the top of the screen where you view the captured image, with shaded regions to indicate where the app had captured text. This is helpful in diagnosing problem sections of text that are refusing to scan.

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Once you have a few cards saved, CamCard offers an intuitive way to organise the contacts you’ve saved, this is accessed via the “Card Holder” link on the front page of the app. Down the left-hand side of the screen you can see groups, such as “ungrouped” when you get started. It’s easy to add more. Tapping the “Edit” button lets you select multiple contacts to drag into the left-sidebar.

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There are multiple options for sharing contacts. You can use the usual options of SMS, QR code, and email. The latter also attaches an image of the card. These are accessed via the triple dot icon on a contact’s page. You’d be forgiven for thinking this is where the sharing options end – I did for the first hour or so of testing. However, if you tap the edit button on the contacts list and select one or more items, there is an “Export” option that lets you email the selected contacts as vCard or Excel files, and even to your phone contacts list. I’m glad those options are there, but I found them far too hard to discover.

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A new feature in the latest version of CamCard is augmented reality business cards. It’s not clear how this is supposed to work as the augmented reality tutorial suggests that CamCard users scanning your card will see a bunch of rich content spring to life on their device. However later pages in the tutorial, and the augmented reality card I created, suggest that they are more like in-app presentations. Either way this part of the app feels somewhat gimmicky. I’d rather have a better text recognition algorithm.

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Viewing contacts offers a suite of useful options such as contacting via telephone or email, viewing the address on a map, and adding or searching for on LinkedIn.

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Overall, CamCard offers a comprehensive package of tools for managing business card scans and contact details. The user interface may not be as accessible as I’d like, or the text recognition as accurate as I’d wish, but the overall package is well worth considering if you do a lot of business card scanning.

You can check out the free version of the apps before buying the paid versions.

Download link

➤ CamCard Free for iPhone

➤ CamCard for iPhone ($2.99)

CamCard HD Free for iPad

➤ CamCard HD for iPad ($7.99)