Google Stack scanner app promises no bill or rebate left behind

Google may have a huge Google Maps update to get excited about today, but a new skunkworks project dubbed Stack could end up earning a spot on your Android homescreen thanks to its scanner-replacing AI. Taking photos of receipts, bills, documents, and other paperwork with a phone camera has become a quick'n'dirty workaround to keep a digital copy without having to dig out an actual scanner, but Stack promises to actually make sense of all those shots.

It starts with a snapshot of a receipt or other document, however that doesn't end up in your camera reel as normal. Instead, Stack automatically "scans" it – cropping and sharpening as appropriate – and gives it a name, then uses contextual image recognition to suggest what sort of categorization should be applied.

If it's a receipt, for example, Stack should organize it into the receipts folder. Take a photo of your driver's license, or work ID, however, and it'll get filed in the IDs folder. There are also Stacks for vehicles, bills and indeed any you choose to create yourself, and the app can upload copies to Google Drive as images so that they can be accessed in future even if you stop using Stack itself.

As you'd hope – and indeed expect, from a Google product – there's search built into all this. You can see all the scans in each stack, or search through the full scanned text if there's something you're hunting for in particular.

What might be most useful, though, is how the AI tries to work with scans proactively. It can spot things like "due date" or "total amount due" within the images, and flag those. That way, it's suggested, you might not inadvertently let a bill go unpaid, an ID expire without renewing it first, or a rebate form go unprocessed.

It's the handiwork of Christopher Pedregal and a team he leads in Area 120, Google's in-house incubator. Pedregal has some background with this sort of thing: indeed, his education startup, Socratic, was using computer vision and language understanding when it was acquired by Google. Throw in some talent from the DocAI team at Google Cloud, and Stack was born.

Since anything promising to keep IDs and other content safe probably needs extra security too, Stack supports optional face or fingerprint biometrics before you can access the app. It's a free download today, though you'll need an Android device at this stage.