Exchanging business cards may seem pretencious, but it's an essential part of life for professionals in virtually every field. If you are looking to keep in touch with potential business partners or just people that you meet, it's still important to ask for a card even in the day and age of Facebook.
But since no one is willing to lug a pile of business cards around, there's Business Card Reader Free - an app that can scan and digitally organize your business cards.
Features & Use
The premise is simple: Busines Card Reader Free is an Android scanner designed for taking snapshots of your business cards and turning them into contacts on your phone. On top of that, this digitized information is supposed to be stored on a dedicated cloud.
When you start up the app, a message pops up asking you to set up an account with AiPim - a Chinese cloud service. Unless you're willing to pay for the unlock code, you have no choice, but to create an account with this frankly dubious-looking cloud service. But taking risks is what I do, so off we go. The app allows you to either create your own customized account or generate an automatic one with a random username and password composed of numbers. Being my lazy self, I naturally opted for the latter option and voila: Business Card Reader revealed itself to me in all its, uhm, tackiness.
Be warned: the main menu looks like a Windows 95 program. The main menu is composed on the following large buttons:
- Take Picture
- Select Picture
To scan a card, simply place the business card on a flat surface in a well-lit location and make it fit inside the red frame on the screen. Just tap the camera button to take a picture i.e. read the information from the card. It takes just a split-second for the app to analyze the data and it spits out a contact sheet.
Theoretically, the app is supposed to recognize the name, company, address, phone number and other relavent information automatically. In practice, however, the results are far from perfect. Although the app managed to recognize the name, it failed to make the difference between letters and numbers with the phone number.
All in all, I would say that the app read about 80% of the information correctly. Obviously, this percentage fluctuates depending on what the business card looks like. That's not horrible, but it isn't exactly helpful. What's the point in using a business card reader if I have to spend time editing it after the fact? In any case, after youâ€™ve double-checked and edited all the information, the app is supposed to save the information as a Gmail, Facebook, Twitter or regular phone contact. The only catch is that this feature doesn't actually work unless you purchase the full version. Another major fail.
Again, without the full verion (which has to be unlocked with a PayPal payment) the app is very limited, too limited, in fact. Instead of actually saving the contacts to your phone, all the information is saved to this mysterious AiPim cloud, which can only be accessed via your Browser. What's the use of having them all stored on a website? Beats me, but it definitely makes the app pretty lame.
Bottom Line: Although Business Card Reader Free works semi OK as a car reader, none of the other functions are fully available in the free version. And the online cloud service is frankly poorly-designed and doesn't work like it's supposed to. So nice try guys, but I think I'll take my business elsewhere.
Screen & Controls
As I said Business Card Reader Free is a throw back to the 90s and I don't mean it as a complement. While it isn't exactly a total failure, the app looks unprofessional and frankly amateurish. Fortunately, all of the buttons work and are responsive. The camera and gallery also work just fine but the online cloud service is very poor quality. It has tiny buttons and is difficult to navigate.
Speed & Stability
Business Card Reader Free isn't very demanding, but in terms of speed and stability its reliable. The camera takes pictures quickly.
Business Card Reader Free has very limited use for the average user. And paying the full $5.99 to get all the functions seems way over the top.