OneNote for Windows 8.1 adds Camera Scan and image OCR

Nov 25, 2013
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Microsoft's OneNote for Windows 8.1 has seen a considerable update, adding the ability to "scan" a document or image using a tablet's camera, apply optical character recognition to search through text, and make better use of digital ink. The new app, available today, takes on Evernote with its new Camera Scan feature, which automatically crops, rotates, straightens, de-shadows, and sharpens images so that they look more like scans than quick snaps with the Windows device's camera.

Those snaps then get OCR applied, which means searches via Bing will include results even if they're virtual scans. For instance, if you're hunting down a particular person whose business card you snapped at some point, you can search by their name and it'll pull out the photo.

Although Evernote has offered the ability to search via text in photos for some time, Microsoft takes it one step further. The new OneNote allows text to be copied out from its OCR, not just searched through.

Meanwhile, there are improvements to how search is handled, as well as a cleaner way to view all of the recent notes you've created across all the devices you're using OneNote. The primary view now shows those latest notes no matter whether you made them on an iOS, Android, or Windows phone, tablet, or computer.

There are richer previews to show more of what's in the note without needing to open it first, and broader digital ink support. Unlike before, where only a single color of ink was supported, now there are multiple colors and thicknesses on offer, finger-notetaking support for those without a stylus, and a full-screen view for more space to annotate. Microsoft also says the digital ink engine has been improved for smoother flow.

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Windows 8.1 also gets a new "Share Charm" to more readily clip content into OneNote, adding an option to the shortcut menu. You can find the new update in the Windows Store today.

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