ScanBizCards co-founder Danny Panzer begin_of_the_skype_highlighting     end_of_the_skype_highlighting shows a few things you can do on the 3G, such as importing photos taken with another camera or using the iPhone 3G camera on larger text.

Scanning images of business cards requires a camera with the ability to focus at close range in order to take clear images of the small text found on a business cards. Unfortunately, the camera of the iPhone 3G lacks that ability. If you are not sure which iPhone version you have, the iPhone 3G was sold at Apple stores until mid-June 2009 but also offered beyond June as a cheaper option to customer at AT&T stores. You can also check by running the camera application and checking the bottom right side of the grey toolbar at the bottom. If it has a slider to select still pictures or video, you’re good, it’s the iPhone 3GS or later. Otherwise, the best you can do with images of business cards is something like this – and that’s barely readable to the human eye, let alone to an OCR program. Before you give up on using ScanBizCards on the iPhone 3G, please read on, there are a few things you can do.

Calendar Reminders

ScanBizCards includes a unique feature among business card scanners: the ability to create a reminder to follow-up with a new contact whose card you just scanned. The calendar reminder is created with all that contact’s info right into the reminder itself so when the time of the reminder comes, all you have to do is touch the phone number within the reminder to call or send an SMS, touch the email address or URL. You can synchronize your iPhone calendar with these reminders or your desktop Outlook or iCal calendar or Google Calendar. In fact, you can even have a colleague sync his calendar with your reminders as well!

Here is why it applies to iPhone 3G users: a little known fact about ScanBizCards is that this feature was added to the product by way of merging an entire iPhone productivity application called CallMeet to facilitate setting up calendar reminders with contacts in your address book. So forget scanning for a minute, when you have ScanBizCards, you also have CallMeet! We made sure to preserve the CallMeet functionality independently of scanning and you can use ScanBizCards to create very convenient self-contained reminders around contacts in your address book. Please read more about how it’s done, including a short video, on

Scanning email signatures into the address book

This was added in Version 2.75 (July 28, 2010) and has nothing to do with scanning: we all gets emails from new contacts with extensive contact info included as an email signature. ScanBizCards lets you can easily capture all that in a few touches using ScanBizCards and it works just fine on the iPhone 3G / iPad / iPod Touch. Here is how it’s done:

  • Select the relevant lines and copy the text into the iPhone clipboard.
  • Start ScanBizCards, touch the “Import from Clipboard” button.
  • Review/edit text items and associated type, touch “Add To Address Book” when ready.

This feature is particularly useful with signatures found at the end of emails! Note: if the contact’s email address is not in the signature, we recommend opening that email again after adding the signature to the address book and chose the option to merge with that existing entry.

IMPORTANT: this mode is incompatible with our image pre-processing in the current release. For this to work, you must turn off image pre-processing. From full screen card view, touch “Settings” on top, set Image Pre-Processing to OFF. It’s a bit of a hassle because for actual biz card images it’s preferred to pre-process so you may have to set it back and forth. This will be fixed in the next update.

Close-up Lens Accessory

OK, so back to  business cards. There is in fact a way to use the iPhone 3G to take decent images of business cards: purchasing the Griffin Clarifi close-up lens accessory. I recently spoke to a ScanBizCards user who reported scanning upwards of 80 cards with the iPhone 3G and this lens, although he did mention experiencing 60% or so accuracy which is not as high as we usually achieve.

You can see an example of a business card image taken with an iPhone 3G equipped with the Clarifi Case here.

Use Another Camera!

Obviously the cool part about using a business card scanner on a mobile phone is the ability to snap a picture of a card wherever you are and have it scanned into your address book seconds after you received that card. But if your phone’s camera can’t do this at the right quality, please take a moment to consider the possibility of taking the photos with another camera, then letting ScanBizCards process them:

  • For starters, you save a whole lot of money compared to a desktop scanner
  • Although you may need to transfer the images to the iPhone at your home/office, you can still process the images on the go: scan, verify accuracy and more.
  • As we say, with ScanBizCards, “scanning is only the beginning” – there is long list of reasons why you would want to process the card images on your iPhone 3G with ScanBizCards, and that list is the entire list of the app’s features, ALL of which (except taking the picture itself) are available on the iPhone 3G. Send a quick intro to a new contact with your own contact info attached, forward to a friend, connect on LinkedIn, add a calendar reminder to follow-up, integrate with your favorite CRM via our Excel export, and more.
  • Digital actionable cards gallery: once you have processed business card images on your iPhone 3G and used some of the ScanBizCards connectivity features, you also retain a digital library of all your card images, organized in folders of your choosing, which you can browse right on your iPhone and use to reconnect with your contacts.

To use business card image taken with another camera on your iPhone 3G or iPod Touch, simply add these images to any photo folder which you can then synchronize with your iPhone, for example using iPhoto on the Mac. Tip: you can also get great business card images using a flat bed scanner!

Larger Text

The iPhone 3G is nevertheless able to take great picture of text – as long as that text is not so small that it requires the close-up ability. Examples of textual material you can snap with the iPhone 3G includes street signs, window signs, take-away menus, text on a TV screen. ScanBizCards makes it easy to treat any of these as a business card of sorts, by letting you control which textual elements you want to include in a new address book contact, and lets you manually add any items missing from the image. I happen to have just such a folder called “Restaurants” in my copy of ScanBizCards where most of the images could have been taken with an iPhone 3G.

You can see some examples of non-business card material the iPhone 3G can snap just fine and scan well here, here and here.

Manual Entry

Consider also that ScanBizCards makes it really easy to manually add information to an image. To take it to an extreme case, you could conceivably take a picture of a friend with ScanBizCards on your iPhone 3G, then just add the relevant contact information – name, phone, email etc – manually using the “Add Custom Field” feature. Here is how it works:

  • Take a picture. When prompted by ScanBizCards, choose “Save For Later” (not “Scan Now”).
  • Touch the Details button (bottom right)
  • Touch the “Add Custom Field” and enter the text & type of the item you want to add
  • Repeat the step above for each field you want to add (name, phone(s) etc)
  • Optional: add the information to the address book by touching “Add To Address Book” on the top right

What you’ve got is a great picture of the new contact, with all relevant info, optionally added to your address book, in a custom folder of your choosing. You can flip through such images, including in 3D cover flow view, and touch an image to call/SMS/email that person using the ScanBizCards “quick action” buttons overlaid on the image.

When you receive a person’s contact information as text (and don’t need to scan anything), it can still be a bit of a hassle to add all the info as a new contact. We have a button for that!
<li>Copy the text into the iPhone clipboard.</li>
<li>Start ScanBizCards, touch the “Import from Clipboard” button.</li>
<li>Review/edit text items and associated type, touch “Add To Address Book” when ready.</li>
This feature is particularly useful with signatures found at the end of emails! <strong>Note:</strong> if the contact’s email address is not in the signature, we recommend opening that email again after adding the signature to the address book and chose the option to merge with that existing entry.