MailGrabber review

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Looking cool to potential customers and rival companies has always been an essential part of any business’s strategy, and there are lots of ways to achieve that task these days. Awesome websites, glossy literature, fancy cars for the sales staff and even super-slick iPhone apps.

But none of these are as essential as having ‘way cool’ business cards, and whether they’re embossed, laminated, die cut, extra thick, ribbed for her pleasure (ooer) or any other fancy finish, cramming concise info and a red hot logo on there is job one for a new business.

MailGrabber, like many other apps out there, has an eye for the quintessential business card. But rather than snapping images of the whole thing, MailGrabber refines its repertoire to picking out email addresses so you can use them straight away from your iPhone.

The app launches straight into the camera view, where you tap a button at the bottom of the screen to grab a quick image of whatever the iPhone’s looking at. You’ve a couple of options available before taking pictures, however, which add some small but important customisation options to the app.

Firstly, you can choose whether or not to fill up your camera roll with piccies of business cards and blurred email addresses. At first glance, it seems like a good idea to keep a visual record of an email address used through MailGrabber, but in practice this is an option better switch off. More on that in a moment.

The crop option can speed up the optical character recognition quite profoundly, and is well worth activating. This allows you slim down the amount of photo the app is required to dissect in order to find the email address. It’s a simple operation, with four corner points that are manually brought together to chop a rectangle out of the image, which is then the only part that’s investigated by the app.

Of course, this app isn’t limited to business cards. Email addresses found in any printed material are up for grabs, and once recognised you can open an email directly to the recipient, send the email address within the body of an email, send it by text message or add it to a new or existing contact in the iPhone’s address book.

Each option jumps out of the app to the relevant native service, after which you can return to MailGrabber and perform any of the other email options.

All in all this is a simple, refined and very easy-to-use email grabbing app, with one slight problem. During testing, its character recognition was poor at best. We weren’t especially forgiving toward MailGrabber, taking pictures without finding optimal lighting conditions or squaring everything up perfectly, but to the naked eye the email addresses were all present and fully in focus.

Only when it saw crisp black text against a very white background did it manage to extract a correct email address, but some snazzy white-text-on-black-background business cards went completely unrecognised, while the slightly fuzzy printing of a newspaper was repeatedly misread.

Perhaps, if lighting conditions were perfect and the iPhone itself wasn’t casting a shadow on the text (difficult, considering you’re going in for an extreme close-up on the text), things would improve slightly, but setting up a professional photo shoot seems contrary to the convenience this app is supposed to provide.

If the OCR technology was considerably improved, this would indeed be a neat and handy application, but right now it’s main purpose seems to be little more than an automatic text jumbler.

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