At any conference, you get a lot of business cards. It is never more apparent than at social media conferences. Everyone wants to share their Twitter handle, their blog address, or their Facebook page for more likes and follows. By the time I get home, I have business cards overflowing from my carry on and they end up staying there. Juggling emails, blog posts, tweets, comments and a toddler, there isn’t much free time to enter in business cards, one by one, into my Mac. I try to convince myself to enter twenty business cards a night after I get back from a conference. Yet, the entering of those business cards seems to take a backseat to other pursuits…like sleep.
I’ve looked at expensive business card scanners and have been very tempted to whip out the credit card and claim it as a business expense. So when I was asked to try out an app that would scan business cards, via my iPhone, and import them into my contact list, I needed to check it out. It is called the WorldCard Mobile App (by PenPower Technology), and it’s priced at $6.99 in the Apple iTunes store. It is compatible with the iPhone, iTouch and the iPad with the iOS 4.0 or later. Thus, the price for the app is not cheap, but it is significantly cheaper than a separate scanner. After receiving a complimentary copy, the ultimate question still remained: Would it work?
Using the app, the steps are simple. You take a picture of the business card (it reminds you to make sure you have good light), then you tap a button to scan the picture. Within 3 seconds, the information on the business card is placed in the Apple contact categories. If you have a two sided card (one side has the person’s name and title, but all the contact information is on the opposite side) the app can scan both sides (though it does require saving what you have and then re-editing the information). The functions are easy to understand, and there is a lot of customization; you can save by last name, first name or company, you can manually determine which contact group to which you want to save the information (or you can adjust the default setting), and it supports sixteen languages.
However, there were times that a business card would stump the app. One instance is when the person’s name is on the same line as their title (e.g. Jane Smith, Account Coordinator), the app would not know where to place the information. So you had to edit the title and then enter in the name separately. Another instance is if the card has a LinkedIn address, Twitter handle or Facebook url, the app would not initially capture that information. You had to save the information it did capture, export to your contact list, and then go back in to manually enter that data. Despite these two shortcomings, the app is still a time saver since you did not have to enter in all the information from the card.
I did find two circumstances when the app would not capture any data: when you have a vertical business card or a business card with a side-facing text. The app did not know how to scan it, and I ended up just entering in the information manually. So if you are in a field with very creative and funky business cards, you may be frustrated more often than not. Luckily, in my stack of cards, they were less than 10%, so the app still saved me lots of time.
Other features of the app is a QR reader and a separate contact list. I liked looking at the app’s own contact list because it also stores the business card image itself, which is great visual reference. However, the image does not get imported to your other Mac devices, and if you are concerned about storage space on your phone, you can adjust the settings so it does not save.
All in all, despite the faults mentioned above, I think the $6.99 price tag is well worth the expense for what you get, and having it on the iPhone means you can scan on the go. So the next time you fly back from a conference with those business cards overflowing from your carryon, you can scan and export all those business cards before you even exit the plane.
Charlene is a Mom and a blogger at CharleneChronicles.com, where she writes about technology, travel, style, health and parenting. Follow her on Twitter or on Facebook for the latest must-have finds for Moms!
Disclosure: We received a complimentary copy of the app for review purposes. The opinions contained in this post belong to the author.