For more than 3 years now, hundreds of thousands of users have been using Genius Fax to fax documents from iOS and Android devices. Similarly to what we do with any of our apps, we start every day by answering our user’s support emails. What came up from analyzing their feedback is that Genius Fax was used to fax a lot of different documents: documents with pictures or text only, drawings, vector PDF files or handwritten letters. While most of these documents were sent with high quality, our user’s feedback surfaced a couple cases where the quality wasn’t top-notch. Several months ago, we set up to investigate the issue and improve the legibility of the documents.
To understand our investigation, here is a basic summary of the fax process in Genius Fax: - The majority of users scan their document with Genius Scan but a significant fraction picks an existing document from another app or just chooses a color photograph of the document - Genius Fax sends the document with metadata (cover page, recipient and sender info) to our backend - Our backend then sends the document to fax to our fax provider who sends the document over the phone lines.
Faxes can only be sent on phone lines in black and white. Before our investigation, we relied on our provider to perform the document conversion to black and white. They have two options available: basic thresholding or halftone. Both have their pros and cons. Basic thresholding is very legible for text but can result in the loss of details in shaded areas. On the other hand, halftone will preserve shaded areas but will be more blurry on details such as small fonts.
Although these two binarization methods are enough for most digital documents, they are sometimes not ideal for scanned documents. Some Genius Fax users don’t use the document enhancement in Genius Scan or even simply send a picture of their document directly from their phone camera, without any cropping or color enhancement. Without a good lighting, such a picture can lack contrast and be incorrectly binarized by the provider’s algorithms.
Here is a typical picture of a document a user could fax:
Monochrome would completely mess up on this document because it’s not contrasted enough:
Halftone is better but has a poor resolution and small font text is not readable:
Luckily, we have a goldmine at our disposal: we have been working and improving for years our proprietary image enhancement in Genius Scan. This algorithm is specifically tuned to improve digitized documents and keep them legible. We now apply that same image enhancement algorithm to all faxes sent with Genius Fax. On our example document, it’s night and day:
All the documents faxed with Genius Fax are now pre-processed on our servers with the Genius Scan algorithms and we reduced the issues with fax quality to zero.
The focus is on security and efficiency: it’s now quicker to create multi-page documents, easier to organize them with the smart document names and the tags and they can be protected with PDF encryption and a passcode lock.
We’ve reworked the scan flow to make it really quick to scan a multi-page document. After scanning the first page, the user decides in which document he wants to save it. Then a tap on the blue ‘+’ button in a document automatically adds the next page to that same PDF document.
A long requested feature: a magnifying glass to adjust your scan crop precisely. For most of your scans, it shouldn’t be needed thanks to the automatic document detection. Whenever you need to manually adjust the crop area, though, it’s frustrating to have your finger hide the corner you’re moving. Not anymore with the magnifying glass.
A feature which has received amazing feedback from power users of the iOS version: the Smart Document Names. Until today, if you created a new document in Genius Scan, it would have been named with the current date and time, with the following format: 2016-05-12 15:15. But what if you needed another format, wanted to add a custom text, or the city you’re currently in? Smart Document Names handle all these cases and lets you create templates from date, time, location and other components.
If you create several templates (to name some of your documents “Invoice_05/12/2016” and some others “Receipt - Paris May 12”), you will be able to choose which Smart Name to apply to your document when it’s created.
Organizing your documents becomes also easier with the tags. You can add labels to your documents based on their category (receipt, invoice, ID…), their status (to review, to process, completed…) or to whom they refer (clients, people, company departments…).
Of course we enabled filtering by tag in the document search: this way, you can quickly access documents with a specific tag:
You can now combine multiple PDF documents together. This makes is easy to combine scans done at different times or coming from different sources.
Users have scanned millions of documents with Genius Scan and we want to make sure their documents are as safe as possible.
It’s now possible to encrypt PDF documents produced by Genius Scan with a password. Without that password, exported documents cannot be opened.
The app itself can also be locked with a passcode to prevent anyone from accessing sensitive scans. We still advise you to protect your device with a password or any other security measure (fingerprint, pattern…) because it’s a much stronger protection. The Genius Scan passcode is rather intended to protect your scans from people who borrow your device, not from expert hackers.
Genius Scan for Android was started close to two years after the iOS version. Yet it is a tool used by millions of users. We are extremely happy to bring both platforms to the same level. As usual, we are already at work on the next update!
As for you, you have no more excuses not to scan your paper documents and organize them! Download Genius Scan for free!
For a long time now, Genius Scan has supported Microsoft’s cloud services. We first introduced support for SkyDrive a long time ago. Microsoft then renamed SkyDrive into OneDrive (and we also renamed it!) We were the first mobile app to integrate with Microsoft OneNote. Today, with Genius Scan 3.10.3, we are taking our integration one step further for our business users: Genius Scan is now able to save your scans into Microsoft OneDrive for Business.
Whether your OneDrive for Business accounts is provided through Office 365 of SharePoint, Genius Scan will transparently handle it for you.
Just tap the OneDrive option and log with your business account credentials – Genius Scan will direct you to OneDrive for Business – and you’re ready to go!
The PDF encryption feature let you add a password when you manually exported your PDF files. From today on, the password will also be used when your documents are auto-uploaded. To turn it on, make sure you define the password in the Genius Scan settings:
In some cases Genius Scan was using more disk space than necessary and not cleaning up some temporary files used while exporting documents. We’ve fixed that and if you were affected by this issue, you don’t have to do anything as it will fix itself automatically.
That’s it for today! We’ll be back soon with more news.
Yesterday, Google unveiled its plans for the next version of Android, which is called Android N (Nutella?) for now. Although we will still have to wait a few months before the final release, Google surprised everybody by making a developer preview available for Nexus devices.
There are many new nice features in this release and we won’t cover them all here (Google is already doing a great job at this). However, there a two features available for developers that we would like to highlight, as they will dramatically improve the experience of Genius Scan users.
Multi-Window support is a big deal. Apple introduced Split View in iOS 9, and we were thrilled to support it in Genius Scan, Genius Fax, and Genius Sign from day one. Some Android manufacturers already developed their own split screen features, but now it will be supported by any Android device running Android N.
Google doesn’t recommend that this preview be used by regular consumers. But we couldn’t resist to play with it. In fact, we were so excited by the Multi-Window feature that we put together a special version of Genius Scan that supports it. And you know what? It works great!
The feature is even more flexible than on iOS, since it’s available not only for tablets, but also for mobile devices. In that case, the separation will be either horizontal (portrait) or vertical (landscape).
Another feature that is allowed by the addition of Multi-Window to Android is cross-app drag and drop. We haven’t tested this one yet, but it looks promising: Android N users will be able to drag items between two apps sharing the screen, providing that both apps support it.
We think there are numerous situations where this will increase your productivity a lot. Here are a few examples:
We can’t wait for Android N to be released so you can also use these features. In the meantime, we have great plans for Genius Scan both on iOS and Android in the coming months. Don’t hesitate to ping us on Twitter (@thegrizzlylabs) if you have any suggestion. Happy scanning!