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Getting started with Evernote Scannable

Evernote's new app makes for simpler scanning from your iOS device.

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Evernote Scannable can work with a ScanSnap scanner, but it's pretty awesome on its own, too. Evernote

The scanner is dead. Long live the scanner!

Why rely on a bulky, expensive, deskbound piece of hardware when you can "scan" items just as easily with your smartphone? That's the idea behind Evernote's new Scannable for iOS, a free app that joins a plethora of similar tools -- but offers a few distinct advantages.

Wait, doesn't the existing Evernote app offer scanning capabilities already? After a fashion, yes -- but Scannable is far more robust when it comes to capturing, correcting and sharing documents.

For starters, the moment you run the app, it's ready to start scanning. That's in contrast to Evernote proper, which requires you to create a new "camera" note, then choose the type of document (photo, business card and so on).

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Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

With Scannable, you simply position your document so it fits within the viewfinder (i.e., your iPhone's screen) -- the app will quickly and automatically capture it, then straighten, sharpen and otherwise improve the quality of the image.

In my tests with an iPhone 6 Plus, Scannable did an impressive job with a variety of items. With a folded invoice, for example, it virtually eliminated the fold marks from the scan and evened out areas of different contrast. As for lengthy receipts, I expected it to need to capture in sections, which is a hassle -- but it did a masterful job when I pulled back to capture the entire thing at once.

I especially like how it makes short work of multipage documents. After you capture the first page, it's almost immediately ready for the next one. Short of carrying around a sheet-fed scanner, this is perhaps the fastest way I've found to scan a stack of pages.

When you're done with your scan, just tap the check mark icon to review each page in a side-scrolling tray. Don't like how one turned out? Just drag it up and out of the tray to delete it.

Next, you tap the blue Share icon to see your various options, which include Mail, Message, Evernote (natch), Camera Roll and Export (to cloud storage). This last sends you to iCloud Drive by default, but you can also add Dropbox and/or Google Drive by tapping the Locations button.

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Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Alternately, if you choose the Meeting option, you can attach your scan(s) to any appointment that's on your calendar.

One key thing to remember about Scannable is that it offers no document management of its own, at least not in the traditional sense: It's a gateway to other destinations (like Evernote, iCloud and, for business cards, LinkedIn). But that's fine; for that purpose I find it very fast and effective, though I do wish the Evernote option would let you assign tags. As it stands, all you can do is choose a notebook.

It's also worth noting that the app can pair with Fujitsu's ScanSnap Evernote Edition scanner, if you have one, for viewing and sharing scans on your iDevice.

Scannable is free, but for the moment it's iOS-only. No word on when the Android version will arrive, only that it's in development.