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Extract text from photos on SkyDrive with the new optical character recognition (OCR) tech from Bing

SkyDrive OCR Tech

The SkyDrive team is on a roll this year. The latest update to the service only confirms they’ve been kicking ass, in spite of an upcoming name change to the service. So what’s new with SkyDrive? Oh you know, just the ability to scan your photos and read them for you. Details after the break.

Starting today, photos uploaded to SkyDrive that feature text will be able to have an optical character recognition (OCR) tool scan them. This OCR tech is powered by Bing and should be super useful for those times you take a photo of some text in order to remember it later. The feature is rolling out to users right now, but didn’t load for me. The text will show in the properties section of images when viewing images on SkyDrive a web browser.

At launch, the feature will support English, Portuguese, Spanish, French and German. It doesn’t matter what country you’re in, so long as your browser is set to one of those languages we just listed. It should also work with most common picture formats.

Don’t forget on Windows Phone you can hit the Bing search button the front of your device for some similar functionality. Hit search, click the eyeball icon on the bottom right, and you can scan barcodes, books, CDs, and more. You can also “scan text”, from there you can copy and paste it, search, or translate right there.

Let us know if you see the new OCR tech in SkyDrive and sound off below!

Source: SkyDrive



There are 53 comments. Sign in to comment

Rippin2 says:

Pretty cool...

interopbyt says:

Awesome!! Windows Live/SkyDrive Team FTW!

iZangetsu says:


Name change. Like they're changing the name of Skydrive?
Sorry if this seems like a terribly ignorant question.

interopbyt says:

Yep, a company named BskyB or similar sued for possible name confusion...

Sued and won that is

Dazzi says:

The same company, which is owned by the evil Murdoch family!

Hate that they are forced to change their name to something else

rodneyej says:

What's this talk about a name change❔ Ain't gone be no name changin goin on round hearh❕
No, seriously.. What's going on❔

rodneyej says:

No, I didn't know this.. How could I have missed that❔ Now, I'm pissed❕

Its okay, just go thru the emotions. Most of us are already in "acceptance" lol

rodneyej says:

I'm going through them as we speak... Lol❕❕

coip says:

My hope is that they just rename it "Microsoft SkyDrive" and continue using the SkyDrive name and logo that way.

Will that be enough?

rodneyej says:

I need this on my Lumia❕.. Maybe this will be implemented into Bing Vision on WP..

jfreiman says:

Agreed. Sometimes I think no one but me and my family and friends know about the Bing features built-in the OS. :-/

joshcsmith13 says:

I 3rd this.  Several times I've wanted to copy the text from an image that I had previously taken - to no avail!
I was going to ask about it, or suggest it, but then I think I answered my own question.  I'm guessing that the OCR is being done "in the cloud", so that WP doesn't actually have the brains to OCR something on its own.  :(  This means the image has to be uploaded first.

Warbler says:

"At launch, the feature will support English, Portuguese, Spanish, French and German."  Awesome!

atkulp says:

The Translator app lets you point the camera at signs or menus for live translations... Not the same as scanning and indexing photo text, but a nice feature on the go.

jfreiman says:

Are you talking about the Microsoft Translate app for offline translation to 5? Languages, OR are you talking about Bing Vision Translate which translates to and from 39 languages?
Two separate products, two separate uses.

jfreiman says:

It would also be great if MS made some commercials which showed off Bing Vision (translation, QR code, barcode, book/DVD/game/CD cover lookup, etc) and Bing Music.
No app to find, load and run. Built-in access to these functions is great selling point and is avail on all WP from 7.1 to WP8 on the Lumia 520 to 1020.
My niece and nephew use the Bing Vision Translation feature for schoolwork - priceless!

lonbraj says:

Want this in Windows Phone SkyDrive app today!!!!

Josh Harman says:

I read about this earlier today, very cool and useful.

TrustySnooze says:

Sounds pretty cool.

Capsloc says:

2 legit 2 quit

schlubadub says:

Such a shame that the Bing Vision translate function is mostly useless when you're unable to pick the source language. For example, I scanned some Russian text and it translates "From English To English" with the only option to change the destination language... yeah, genius!

Josh Harman says:

Not sure what you mean, it always works for me.

schlubadub says:

I mean, when it fails to guess the origin language then it assumes it's English and then asks what language I would like to translate it to - which is going to be English for me! I want to be able to specify that the writing is in Turkish (or whatever) and to translate it to English. Otherwise, it just returns gobbledygook

jfreiman says:

It sounds like your Russian text may have also contained some English words - usually a separate sentence already translated.
If your default language selected for your phone is seen in the image it will not "see" the foreign text.
You need to crop the alternate language outside of the cameras view.
I spend too much time translating things I see on a daily basis and if the text is printed, it is very accurate at discovering and translating text.

schlubadub says:

Yeah, I've tried that sort of stuff. I don't think it works with the Russian cyrillic though. I think it's just trying to be too clever - I know what language it's in, it should let me specify what I wanted it translated from and to.

Grab the MS Translator App. It is far more featured than the Bing Vision, and gives you any option you could want. It also works better by doing on the fly translation

Here is a commercial for it:

(I was going to put a link to the YouTube video, but Google removed it. Nice to see they aren't petty.)

jfreiman says:

For true offline translation it doesn't support Russian, which is curious because Russia has a high WP adoption rate.
That said, if you have internet access the sky is the limit since you can translate many languages inline with Internet.

schlubadub says:

Yeah, I pretty much either have, or have tried, all of the translators on my phone :) It's fairly good, but the source languages via camera are limited (only 6) and all the languages are ones of no use to me. I wish I had it 10 years ago when I went to France, Spain, Italy & Germany! But I doubt I'll be going back to those places any time soon (been there, done that). So basically, I won't be able to use it very much, except by keyboard which does allow more languages...

JoRdaNeK says:

This sounds like something people could need or want, what's bing's user base like? Because i hear the words "google it" almost daily, but to my surprise (and dawning agreement) my sister told me to "bing it" the other day, we are now closer than ever before :)

jfreiman says:

TiVo, Kleenex, BandAid.... Don't sweat the small stuff.
PS your sister sounds cool. :)

jfreiman says:

Another neat 'trick' is taking a snapshot of your screen with the translated text over it.
This is great if you want to show someone the result, or get a 2nd opinion.

rodneyej says:

I've seen so many unrelated WP commercials tonight on TV,, NBC, it's ridiculous.. They make it seem like WP devices are the only one's available.. If they keep this up people will seriously start to take notice.. BTW,, the Nokia Lumia 928 is free on Verizon❕❕

Okay, this is a really cool idea.

kjordan_29 says:

This could be important for students...

This means that you can use your phone's camera as a scanner rather easily.

If you have a 8mp camera, a shot of an 8.5x11 is nearly 300dpi at full color/grayscale, which is what is used for most scanned documents.

Now you can get the OCR results and search for text in documents you shoot with camera.

Tools like Handyscan are also nice scanning tools, but having automatic OCR on SkyDrive brings more functionality for free to WP users.

Ernesto_RD says:

I just went into my skydrive to check it out, but it wont load for me either.
I guess deployment isnt completed yet

sumton says:

great feature

Dk92 says:

This is too cool.

uopjo6 says:

I wish I had this when I was living in Germany. The instructions/ingredients on packages in the supermarket was a PAIN to translate. WP7 at that time though.

Nakazul says:

Alright, MSFT is a great company and all. But one thing they always been terrible at is translation. Bing Vision is no different and all there other services. This sounds cool and all but end use?

BigAlDev says:

I am using the latest bits of the windows 8.1 on my surface and already updated my lumia 920  with GDR2 and Amber, and from all the amazing new apps in "the most recent build of windows 8.1 from mail, to the freat full featured photo app with the amazing (easy and intuitive) edit functions, the excelent view either in landscape or portrait, the resize and even more easy to read desktop, the almost perfect resize thru different size screens, the animated backgrounds, new colors, the all apps, And the super great new settings (diferent from the 8.1 preview) , all of this in the phablets from nokia and tablets from nokia, microsoft and asus makes me wanna say that windows is now a true mobile system, and I just hope intel come as good as arm in mobile processors in terms of graphic and battery life,  so we can have the full power of the x86/64 bits arquitechture that in my prespective makes any current mobile OS fly at your fingertips

E Lizzle says:

This is a pretty damn cool feature.  Will be quite useful.

Chris Yahya says:

it said : Cant connect, check your data connection.
i can whatsapp, browsing, but cant scan in bing vision? are you kidding me?

Is anyone actually able to use the SkyDrive OCR feature yet? It hasn't appeared on my SkyDrive.