Microsoft adds OCR text scanning to SkyDrive photos

The cloud storage service can extract text from photos taken with Windows Phone devices, useful for shots of business cards, train schedules, and memos.

SkyDrive now extracts text from photos taken with Windows Phone devices and uploaded to the Microsoft online storage service.
SkyDrive now extracts text from photos taken with Windows Phone devices and uploaded to the Microsoft online storage service. Microsoft

Following Google's lead, Microsoft has added optical character recognition (OCR) to images stored on its SkyDrive cloud storage service.

"With this new SkyDrive release, our OCR tool will automatically run on your camera roll photos so you can instantly see the extracted text whenever you view your photos on SkyDrive.com," Microsoft said in a blog post on Wednesday.

The feature can be useful, especially when people use camera phones to take photos of signs, maps, business cards, or other textual subjects they might want to refer to later. (Windows Phone devices can be set so photos automatically upload to SkyDrive.)

SkyDrive uses the same OCR engine that Microsoft employs for its Bing search service, Microsoft said. The feature works in English, Portuguese, Spanish, French, and German.

Google also performs OCR on images and PDF files to extract text from data people have stored at Google Drive.

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