Business card scanner apps for iPhone are a great way to minimize the amount of paper cards you've got to keep track of. Simply scan them into your iPhone via the camera app and they should read the information on the card and automagically fill out the fields and create an iOS Contact for you. CamCard, WorldCard, and Business Card Reader are all well known apps for this, but how accurately and speedily do they do their jobs?
Note: I've left all the information in each app the exact way it imported it so users can see how accurate each reader is performing. The only thing I've left out is personal information such as phone numbers. If any of the apps did not import phone numbers correctly, I have stated that in each respective section.
CamCard vs. WorldCard vs. Business Card Reader: Interface
CamCard's app is easy to navigate through and use. It's also the only app that offers a batch feature to easily snap multiple images and import them all at once. The Card Holder section contains all your contacts. However, the overall design feels cramped on the iPhone's screen. A better layout for groups would be a welcome addition.
There's quick access to take pictures of business cards, and to import already existing photos from your camera roll. Viewing a card gives you a quick view of the card and some commonly used options such as call, text, e-mail, map, and view on LinkedIn. The menu underneath gives you editing and export options such as trashing the card, sharing it, rotating it, and editing the information.
WorldCard's layout is more complex and may be frustrating for new users. The main menu is easy enough to navigate but once you start getting into options, like editing and sorting into groups, it becomes confusing and options aren't obvious. Outside of organizing and exporting, the layout is useable and functional.
Business Card Reader looks more like something you'd find in a built-in iOS which may be appealing to a lot of people. While CamCard and WorldCard have more complex functionality, Business Card Reader is a lot simpler which means it's easier to navigate.
Business Card Reader also ties into LinkedIn, so you can search for contact information for someone by just choosing the LinkedIn section on the main screen.
When it comes to interface, Business Card Reader is the easiest to navigate and use.
CamCard vs. WorldCard vs. Business Card Reader: Card capturing
CamCard has a convenient batch function that allows you to take multiple images at once and import them altogether. Just move the slider to batch mode and start snapping cards. When you're done, it will process all of them at once. It will also process the cards quickly and with good accuracy.
It didn't fare so well on cards with narrow fonts, however, and got confused when phone numbers had parentheses around area codes, sometimes reading them as the number 1 instead.
In addition to cards, CamCard supports QR codes. Just tick the slider all the way to the right in order to capture a QR.
WorldCard also claims to have a batch mode but it's not very convenient. The slider has a switch for it but each time you scan a card you're still returned to the main menu and you'll need to select camera mode again. That's not very convenient if you need to import a bunch of cards quickly. Maybe I was doing something wrong but I couldn't figure out any way to speed up the process.
WorldCam fared even worse than CardCam on smaller or narrow fonts. Sometimes email addresses weren't anything close to what they were on the actual card.
WorldCard will also support scanning QR codes. Just tap the QR option from the main menu.
Business Card Reader doesn't appear to have a batch mode but capturing multuple photos doesn't require too many taps. Capture seemed to take a bit longer than it did with the other two.
What really baffled me with Business Card Reader is that it seemed to get information correct for smaller, narrower fonts but read it incorrectly for regular fonts that are larger and easier to pick out. It also had a tendency to think italicized words were letters with accents, which is weird.
When it comes to capture ability and accuracy, CamCard managed to get almost all the information scanned correctly on every card I tried, with the exception of the one with narrow fonts, while the other two had multiple errors in each card that I scanned.
CamCard vs. WorldCard vs. Business Card Reader: Organization and sorting
CamCard allows you to sort your contacts into groups. Just tap the "+" button in order to add a new group from your contact list. To add contacts to that group tap Edit and select the ones you'd like to add, then drag them onto the group. It took me a few minutes to figure out that you had to hold down on them in order to drag them, so that was somewhat frustrating at first. You can also sort contacts by name, date, or company straight from the contacts page.
While it's nice to have groups that you can sort cards into, the layout of the main contacts page is cramped. A group navigation bar would have been better as a drop down. If you have a group name that is longer than 5 letters, it takes up two lines which is visually unappealing.
WorldCard also allows you to make groups and sort your contacts into them. Tapping the hammer icon along the bottom pulls up an edit menu. The second icon from the left brings you into groups. From there you can add and delete groups. Go back to contacts and tap the ones you'd want to add to a group while in edit mode, and tap the groups button again, and it'll ask you where to put them. The whole process was quite confusing, especially since the icons aren't self explanatory.
Business Card Reader has a simple interface to navigate and has search built right in at the top of the card holder. You can also sort by first name, last name, company, and date. There are no groups though. This can be frustrating if you need to find a contact and can't remember their name but remember what company they work for. You'll have to go through your whole list and find that company's employees and go from there. It'd be nice to see an update that supported custom groups.
CamCard had the best organizational and sorting tools available even though the main screen felt cramped. While they were pretty much the same as what WorldCard offered, they were easier to use and easier to navigate.
CamCard vs. WorldCard vs. Business Card Reader: Sharing and exporting
CamCard supports syncing and integration with their desktop and other platforms as well as export functionality to .csv, .xml, and vCard.
Once you're inside the main contacts screen, just select the contacts you'd like to export or share and then tap the share button. You'll be asked how you want to export them. Using the vCard feature will allow you to attach them to an email and send them to anyone you'd like. You can also import and export cards via iTunes File Sharing.
WorldCard allows you to share and export contacts in several ways as well, including email and iTunes export, Gmail, and Excel. You can choose to open the contact in support apps such as Dropbox and Evernote too.
The menus in WorldCard still throw me off -- they're awkward to use and not very friendly thanks to the confusing icons. Just like you would sort contacts, you can select contacts under edit mode and then choose the share button to choose a sharing method. It gets the job done but, again, might not be that obvious to the average user .
Business Card Reader doesn't allow you to export to anything but your iPhone address book. I do like the fact that you have to manually add cards instead of it automatically doing it. There are times when I scan a business card of someone that I already have in my Address Book just so I have their card on file. So, if you just want to use the app to store cards, Business Card Reader makes that easy but doesn't support other export or sharing functions.
CamCard provides the easiest way to export and share contacts with others but WorldCard provides more options, even if their menus aren't as user friendly. Tie.
CamCard vs. WorldCard vs. Business Card Reader: Syncing and restoring
CamCard allows you to backup and restore your cards through their PC and Mac client. You'll need to create a CamCard account with them in order to do this but after setting up an account, it's a simple process. There is no support for Dropbox or iCloud, but that would be a nice addition in an update.
WorldCard supports both Dropbox and iCloud integration so you can sync your cards with accounts you already have. I prefer methods like this since it doesn't require you to have yet another login. With as many services as we have to use today, one less login is always appreciated.
Business Card Reader doesn't appear to support any syncing methods besides the ability to sync your contacts with your iPhone Address Book. You can also choose to merge contacts which is a nice feature if you already have an existing contact for someone and just need to add additional information off their business card.
WorldCard has the most options built-in when it comes to syncing and restoring.
CamCard vs. WorldCard vs. Business Card Reader: Conclusion
CamCard, WorldCard, and Business Card Reader were the best apps I could find when it came to accurate, useful scanning accuracy. With that said, none of them were perfect by any means.
I don't think any of these three apps are practical for someone who scans cards day-in, day-out. A dedicated card scanner made specifically for that purpose would be better.
Even for occasional use, I almost feel that entering the information into my Contacts on my own wouldn't have taken that much longer.
If you really need a card scanner on your iPhone, however, CamCard is the best option currently available. It provides the most features and fared the best when it came to reading business cards accurately. If you just need an app to store business card images, Business Card Reader is probably a better choice since it won't input the information into your contacts automatically by default and is the most visually appealing app of the three.