The other day we were having dinner with some family friends in celebration of my father-in-law’s birthday. One of his dear friends had just gotten her first smart phone and had no clue how to use it. I spent a few minutes with her showing her a couple of key applications that I thought she might find useful. She was wowed by what her new device is able to do. I am which point she made the following comment–
“Okay, to tell me something, with so many applications available for this device how the hell would I ever know what is available and which is the best application for each activity I want to do ?”
It is a good quesTion and is a question that leads us to a new series here on Gear Diary–
Apps in a Snap: A Quick Look at Apps You Might Want to Try
Rather than providing full reviews of the applications in this series will give a few screenshots, a brief description and a link so that you can try it for yourself. And if there is an application you find the series that you absolutely love please make sure to let us know.
And so we introduced the first Gear Diary App in a Snap: CardMunch for iPhone
I’ve tried a number of different applications that promise to take a picture of the business cards and quickly scan them so that they can be added to your address book. All of them work well enough to be impressive but not accurately enough that I would want to rely on them. Time and again that no matter how carefully I tried to process the business card there is one tidbit of information that comes out wrong and, were I to add to my address book unedited I would move forward unable to contact the individual in question because their e-mail address or telephone number was just plain wrong.
The problem here is–we are about to head out to the consumer electronics show and if last year is any indication we will collect dozens upon dozens of business cards from each of the vendors we meet during the week. How many cards will be collected? Here’s a look at just one portion of what I left Las Vegas with last year–
That’s where CardMunch comes in. CardMunch is a new application for scanning business cards that does something the other programs we tried just don’t offer–it’s 100% accurate.
That’s right, using this application to photograph a business card you are all but assured that the information added to your address book will be 100% accurate. How is this accomplished? Simple–unlike other applications which are completely automated when scanning your business cards this application uses a combination of scanner technology and human interface (translation–real-life breathing people are part of the process).
The benefits of this approach is that the information is far more accurate than it might be were the process completely automated. On the downside, the results take a few minutes to receive since they have to be sent from the iPhone, transcribed, and sent back, and there is an ongoing cost for having business cards scan. The cost per card is not insignificant and it could add up if you had numerous cards to scan over an extended but for what you get… Wow.
Using the app is simple. You tap the camera icon and then line up the card in question with the guides that appear on the screen.
Snap the image and then wait a few minutes for the card to be sent to the service, transcribed and sent back.
When it does, it will appear in the app’s own contact list with the banner “New” which lets you now that it is… Well… New.
The app then lets you choose what, if anything, you want to do with the new contact information. Among the option are adding to LinkedIn, moving to the device’s address book (you can also set it to do this automatically), reject the card outright or, and this is my favorite, set up a Follow-Up reminder for yourself.
The app will also give you the option to sort cards by company Which comes in rather handy if you remember who the person works with but not who the person actually IS.
You can also quickly see the recent activity in your account.
In the settings page you will find some tweaks that can make the service far more powerful and easier to use. It includes such things as letting you upload a new card automatically and adding to LinkedIn with just a tap.
And if you are not sure what to do there is a tutorial available right on the app also.
The accuracy of CardMunch is amazing but since it is not fully automated there are much higher costs involved. Right in the app you can get packages of credits for scanning cards. As with so many things, the more you buy the lower the price per scan becomes. No, the service isn’t cheap but for someone who is on the go and meeting lots of people it is all but priceless.
Both Judie and I have tried the application on a number of business cards and have been impressed by the results. We’re so impressed that we will be using the application when we are at CES this year. We cannot thank the folks behind CardMunch enough for providing us with access to their service throughout CES!
If you have an iPhone and you’re a business person who meets a lot of people all the time CardMunch is worth a look.
You can check out the app.