Five Apps To Help Capture Those CES Contacts12:00 PM EST Tue. Jan. 22, 2013
The booths are dismantled, the carpets rolled up and the din of the show floor is as distant as Las Vegas itself. Now that you've taken in the sights and sounds of CES, it's time to convert those contacts into lasting entries in your database. To help you park your prospects without keying them in by hand, here are some high-tech solutions for the low-tech entry of business-card data.
Helping iPhone users cope with data-entry chores is WorldCard Mobile, an iOS app that does a great job of turning cards into contacts. For $6.99, WorldCard Mobile recognizes business-card text from camera-scanned images and figures out which fields to plunk it into in the iOS Contacts database. If the contact is already present, options appear to discard the new data or merge it with the existing record. Card images can be stored and processed in batches. The app works with any iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch with an auto-focus camera running iOS version 4.3 or later.
For a cross-platform solution, ScanBizCards for Android and iPhone not only scans and stores business-card contacts directly into the phone's address book, it also provides real-time backup to the cloud. Other features include automatic text orientation, compatibility with two-sided cards, integration with LinkedIn and free cloud storage and sync.
If manual data entry is out of the question and only free apps will do, then CardMunch might still fit the bill. Acquired by LinkedIn last year at this time, CardMunch for iOS is a free app that photographs and sends business-card images to a free service that manually transcribes them. In theory, the service promises a 10-minute turnaround, after which a push notification is sent to the phone telling the user that the text is ready to be approved. Users can then edit and save the contact to their phone, LinkedIn or both, or they can delete the contact entirely.
For those who prefer to skip the card collecting process altogether and move right to the database storage phase, there's Bump for iOS and Android. This brilliant free app works with a server back end that detects simultaneous agitation of two Web-connected smartphones in the same geolocation and initiates a one-time data exchange. Bump can be used to instantly share contacts, photos or other data, as well as contacts from Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, even across platforms.
For a full-featured tool at a fulsome price, Business Card Reader for Android provides about as much automation for contact management as you can get. The tool competently scans cards and presents the data in the Android contact database for editing. The $9.99 tool allows for easy sharing of text, images or .vcf files via email or SMS; integrates with Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter; and can automatically search Google Maps for the address. This one's developed by ABBYY, which specializes in OCR software.