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Camera Dialer: Point-and-shoot phone dialing

This inventive app leverages your iPhone's camera to quickly dial printed phone numbers. Unfortunately, it's not good at capturing white print on dark backgrounds.

Point your iPhone at a phone number and Camera Dialer will do the rest. GP Imports, Inc.

Remember the old days, when dialing a phone number meant tapping out 10 digits on your iPhone screen? Talk about a time-suck!

Camera Dialer makes phone dialing as easy as pointing your iPhone's camera at a phone number.

When you tap the app, it fires up your camera and overlays a small green box in the viewer. Just frame the number inside the box and presto: your iPhone immediately dials it.

Is this really faster and/or easier than just dialing a number manually? Yes and no. In my tests (with an iPhone 3GS), Camera Dialer was quick and accurate with black numbers on white backgrounds, when the lighting was good.

However, it failed to recognize white numbers printed on dark backgrounds, meaning it wouldn't work with many of the ads and flyers I tried. And there were times when the app seemed unable to focus the camera properly until I exited and restarted.

Bottom line: Camera Dialer is a neat idea, and potentially handy for those times when it's easier to tap one icon than 10 numbers, but it needs a little tweaking. Still, if the idea appeals to you, 99 cents is certainly a fair price.

If this sounds a bit familiar, it's because there are many other apps that leverage the iPhone's camera for non-photography purposes: