Using the new Google Drive Android app as a Document Scanner

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Google DriveIf you’re an Android user, Google Drive is now more than just your average cloud storage app. Besides the new user interface and the expanded online storage capacity, Google Drive for Android can now be used as a document scanner, and even supports optical character recognition (OCR). This means that you can now use your smartphone’s camera to capture high-resolution documents in the popular Portable Document File (PDF) format. This is a welcome addition especially for users of high-spec devices like the Samsung Galaxy S4 that make use of high quality optics in their cameras.

Why use a high-end smartphone?

Made available in the United Kingdom last April 2013, the flagship Samsung handset boasts of a 13-megapixel camera sensor. What this means is that the Galaxy S4 can capture images at resolutions up to a massive 4128 pixels wide by 3096 pixels high. While other Android devices can also use the Google Drive app to scan, high-end phones like the Galaxy S4 offer the best image quality at such a high resolution. This is because top-of-the-line handset models are usually equipped with the best mobile phone camera technology available in the market.

OCR technology and scanning

A special feature of the Google Drive document scanner is support for OCR technology. This enables the app to recognize words from scanned documents, a feature which has a great deal of applications in digital imaging. OCR can distinguish words or characters such as letters in images, which can be used in the transcription or even identification. In fact, Google Drive automatically indexes scanned documents when it captures and uploads them to the cloud using this OCR function.

Versatile PDF format, conversion, storage, and editing

Images are scanned to the default PDF format, which offers a great deal of scalability for either image or text documents. Since you are scanning to PDF, you can also assign security permissions to protect your scanned documents. The app automatically uploads captured files to your Google Drive’s storage space, where you have the option to download them to your phone’s memory or to your desktop or laptop PC. From there, you can convert your scanned documents to their respective Word, Excel or PowerPoint formats using PDFConverter. Alternatively, you can also convert your scanned PDFs directly from the cloud using Google Apps integrated into Drive for minor editing.

Easy to use, quick, and convenient

Scanning using Google Drive can’t get any easier. It’s as simple as opening your Google Drive app on your Android phone, tapping on the “+” sign on the upper-right corner of the screen, and tapping on “Scan”. Direct your phone’s camera to the document you want to scan, and the app takes care of the rest. It automatically captures an image, saves it as a PDF, and uploads it to your Google Drive storage space. Using your Android smartphone means that there is no need to lug out that bulky image scanner, plug in meters upon meters of cables, only to put them back after scanning only a single page. All the work is done wirelessly, and the entire process only takes a minute or two at most.

In conclusion, Google has really made strides with the new Google Drive app for the Android platform. With the integration of Gmail and Picasa into Google Drive itself, the storage capacity has been bumped up to 15GB, which is three times bigger than the previous allowance of 5GB. Moreover, Drive has also integrated a “lite” version of Google Apps focusing on office productivity – as of this writing, extensive support for spreadsheets – that will gradually improve in the future. Google Drive, with the aid of evolving imaging technology for mobile devices, is prepping up to become an invaluable productivity tool that will revolutionize digital imaging.

What do you think of this new Google Drive? Learn more about the features of the new Google Drive for Android by visiting the official Google Drive download page in Google Play.