KNFB Reader

Last modified
Saturday, January 19, 2019
Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team
Category

Description of App

KNFB Reader gives you instant access to print anytime and anywhere.
KNFB Reader 3.0 is a rapid and efficient text recognition app. Its text-to-speech, text-to-Braille, and text highlighting tools make it valuable for blind, low-vision, dyslexic, and others with reading differences.
Use it to import or take a photo of anything containing text. Take a photo and the app reads text out loud or displays it on a connected refreshable Braille display. Read with more ease thanks to the simultaneous highlighting of the sentence and word that is being read on the picture or in the plain text document. The app helps you get a good photo with special alignment tools, including spoken and vibration guidance. Snap multiple pages, such as a book, for later reading.
Winner of the 2014, 2015, and 2016 AppleVis Golden Apple Award for Best Assistive

Technology App.
• Reads image-based PDF and JPEG files, and now tagged PDF and ePub files too!
• Exports KNFB reader files as HTML or TXT files.
• Navigates by line, sentence, word, or character.
• Crop, rotate and edit the pictures you take before performing text recognition.
• View documents in PDF presentation mode with double highlighting while reading.
• View reading order and language-tagged PDF documents.
• Add and remove bookmarks in PDF documents.
• Switch between PDF view and reflowable text view.
• Read documents in the increasingly popular ePub format.

The app also has synchronized text highlighting to help you read along with the spoken text, a benefit for people with dyslexia and other reading difficulties.

Need nutritional information from your breakfast cereal? KNFB reader can read labels. Out shopping and need a price? KNFB Reader can read price tags. Want to know what came in the mail? KNFB Reader captures it all.

KNFB Reader captures print from your computer or tablet screen. Photograph the screen and know exactly what that error message says.
Little details abound. We got rid of the fifty-page limit for batch recognition. Everything gets turned on its side with landscape support. Add subfolders to the local folder structure. Use Microsoft OneDrive, Dropbox, or Google Drive to store and retrieve your documents. You can now make calls, send emails, and open hyperlinks directly from documents; call or email your new contact directly from the text of her business card!

Fully localized versions (user interface, recognition and speech) are available in: English, German, Italian, French, Spanish, Norwegian (Bokmål), Swedish, Portuguese, Dutch, Turkish, Danish, Polish, Russian, Japanese, and Czech.

Other languages available for speech and recognition only: Afrikaans, Albanian, Bulgarian, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), Croatian, Estonian, Finnish, Greek, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Romanian, Serbian (Cyrillic), Serbian (Latin), Slovak, Ukrainian.

Supported devices: iPhone X, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone SE, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, iPadPro, iPad Pro 12.9-inch, iPad Pro 9.7-inch, iPad Air 2, iPad Air, iPod touch 6th Generation, iPod 5th Generation.

Version

3.0

Free or Paid

Paid

Apple Watch Support

No

Device(s) App Was Tested On

iPhone

iOS Version

11.3.1

Accessibility Comments

This app is completely accessible with VoiceOver.

VoiceOver Performance

VoiceOver reads all page elements.

Button Labeling

All buttons are clearly labeled.

Usability

The app is fully accessible with VoiceOver and is easy to navigate and use.

Developer's Twitter Username

@knfbreader

Recommendations

31 people have recommended this app

Most recently recommended by alex wallis 2 years 3 months ago

Options

Comments

Submitted by alex wallis on Thursday, September 18, 2014

the app is also compatible with ios7 at time of writing, so you don't have to be on 8 to use it.

Submitted by Edward Alonzo on Tuesday, September 23, 2014

interesting that its not very usable on the plus I would have thought that would have been the absolutely best phone to use it on with its new image stabilization. very strange.

Submitted by Orko on Thursday, September 25, 2014

This app sounds interesting, but at $100, unless there is a way to try it first, I'm not willing to gamble that much money on an app I haven't seen.

Submitted by Fleurppel on Friday, September 26, 2014

I'm having trouble getting documents into focus. I hit the view report button, and it says something like, "top edges visible rotated 2 degrees clockwise," so I move the phone slightly to the right, and then there's no report available. Also, when it says both the top and bottom edges are visible at 0 degrees, taking a picture only produces part of the document.

Does anyone know what's going wrong? Thanks.

Submitted by alex wallis on Friday, September 26, 2014

I am not sure what the thing to do is when the top and bottom edges are visible, but about the field report, that feature is very unreliable, and I am on ios 7.1.2, speech often fails after a few field of view reports, I have reported it to them, and I would encourage others who also agree to do the same thing.

Submitted by Fleurppel on Friday, September 26, 2014

I've noticed the speech also fails sometimes when attempting to actually OCR things. Sometimes it works itself out, and sometimes you have to dismiss the app and relaunch.

Submitted by Fleurppel on Sunday, September 28, 2014

I contacted them Friday after posting here. Their response was to send me a copy of the documentation (already found within the app) and to tell me to read the suggestions for alignment (already done). I've even tried using the tilt guidance and turning on the automatic picture, but that has only been successful once.

Submitted by Fleurppel on Sunday, September 28, 2014

That explains why it doesn't take the pic even when the field report says it's perfect.

Submitted by Dane on Monday, September 29, 2014

I've tried this app, and it works quite well on my iPhone 5S. I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a good OCR app.

Submitted by jrjolley (not verified) on Monday, September 29, 2014

In reply to by Dane

Tried it on the off chance as I have one, works fine, recognition isn't quite as good but it's infinitely better than prizmo and all the other ones.

Submitted by Jordan Gallacher on Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Until people get their heads on straight, the KNFB app is worthless. Why? They were stupid enough to not get their Android version out at the same time. This is not right all. They should make it for all since in order to improve accessibility, things need to be available on both platforms at the same time!

Submitted by jrjolley (not verified) on Wednesday, October 8, 2014

In reply to by Jordan Gallacher

I wonder if the multitude of various configurations is one of the reasons KNFB isn't ready for android devices yet. It's probably a question of economics though, more blind users of iPhones than android I would think. It'll come to Android though I am sure, KNFB want as many using this reader as possible.

Submitted by Michael Hansen on Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Hello Jordan,

With all do respect, do you use an iOS device?

The reason I'm asking is that I'm trying to understand: why does KNFBReader not being available on Android make the iOS app worthless? I'm really trying to see the other side here, but I fail to understand how one has anything to do with the other. It would be like me saying a very good Android app was worthless simply because its developer did not also release it on iOS. A good app is a good app, regardless of which platform it runs on. Developer dedication, to whatever app and whatever platform, is to be appreciated.

Your attitudes notwithstanding, a huge majority of the people who have posted here about KNFBReader find it to be a very worthwhile app. I know I do.

Submitted by riyu12345 (not verified) on Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Hi.
i cannot understand how an app is werthless due to the fact that it's not on Android. It's a great app and works fine for everything I need it to. Oh an when I get my six, or six plus, (I'm thinking of getting the six since it's smaller but the six plus has better battery life,) It will work tuns better as far as I've been told.

Submitted by jrjolley (not verified) on Wednesday, October 8, 2014

In reply to by riyu12345 (not verified)

You're so close to the text in any case it'll not be much better. We're talking about how much better the reader will be on new phones when the app's not been out five minutes. The processing speed and stuff is more than adequate for good results now.

Submitted by Bryan Jones on Thursday, October 9, 2014

This app has quickly become one of my most important productivity and daily living tools. The simplicity, speed and accuracy with which KNFB Reader handles most of my daily OCR tasks is a relief. Where I used to schedule a block of time to sit down and work my way through a stack of mail, receipts or other paperwork using a combination of Prizmo on the iPhone and FineReader on the Mac, I now find myself processing such items as I get them because KNFB does it so quickly.

I find the app to be very flexible and forgiving compared to the handful of other point-and-shoot IOS OCR apps I've used over the past few years. I can hold mail at arm's length or toss a receipt on the countertop, point the camera in the general direction with a rough estimate of proper alignment, and KNFB usually manages to either locate and speak the text quickly or tell me nothing was found, in which case flipping the paper and trying another scan takes only a few seconds.

There are sertain OCR tasks which I still perform with Mac FineReader and/or my desktop scanner, processing large PDF files or using the ADF to import printed items that consist of more than a few pages for example, but probably nineteen out of twenty OCR tasks I now handle with KNFB Reader on my iPhone 5S.

Submitted by riyu12345 (not verified) on Thursday, October 9, 2014

The app has been out longer than five minutes :)
As for it working the same or not that much better, that may be true but I think i might, just might, get better results. Anyway I'm not getting the six for the KNFB reader, I'm getting it because it's faster than the five s when it comes to siri, bigger which is better for me and soundds clearer. This app is great for scanning things but it's a shame you can't really scan books with it. Although to be honest I get all my books online so that's not a problem with me. Well I guess you can scan books but I don't like doing it since it takes so long.

Submitted by LaBoheme on Thursday, October 9, 2014

"Tried it on the off chance as I have one, works fine, recognition isn't quite as good but it's infinitely better than prizmo and all the other ones."

it's like saying it is better than Taurus and all the other cars, what exactly are the others? Taurus is certainly not perceived as one of the best cars.
as a matter of fact, prizmo is mediocre at best in my opinion. sure it has some fancy features like scanning multiple pages, but as far as OCR is concerned, it is not very good, and it reflected in app store reviews.

Submitted by jrjolley (not verified) on Thursday, October 9, 2014

In reply to by LaBoheme

What is it with blind people and a total lack of a sense of humour these days. By "BETTER THAN ALL THE OTHER ONES!" I meant, "IT! WORKS! BETTER! THAN! ALL! OF! THE! OTHER! SCANNING! APPS!". Clearer? thought so.

For god's sake

Submitted by Kelly on Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Added support for iPhone 4S, iPod Touch 5th generation, iPhone 6 and 6 plus;
- Larger fonts now available for low vision users;
- Changes and bug fixes to improve performance on all supported devices.

Submitted by Chris Harrington on Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Good afternoon,
I downloaded the app this morning, and tried to use it to read mail.
However, after the picture was taken, the app was not recognizing text. Anyone else having this problem?

Submitted by Orko on Wednesday, October 15, 2014

I wasn't going to buy this app because I didn't want to gamble $100, but after reading mostly positive reports from others who have bought it, I decided to bite the bullet, gamble the $100, and buy it.

I'm only sightly impressed, but time will tell. Initially it seemed to work quite well, but then some problems started showing up.

The first was that I noticed that my iPhone 5s was getting quite warm and after about 30 minutes playing with the appp, noticed that my battery charge had dropped by 50% or more. I don't know if this is an IOS 8 or a KNFB issue, but if it stays like this, I'm not likely to use the app that much. I'd hate to be away from home, need to make a call, and find I don't have enough charge left on my battery because I used the reader to read something to me.

The second is that it started taking longer and longer to do the OCR and start reading. And this was with business card sized documents, I can't imagine how long it would take to do a full page such as a letter! Maybe I'll have a coffee break while waiting...

At this point, I think I lost the gamble, but , since this app is rather new, and it's the only OCR I could actually get to work, I tried several free ones. Hopefully as it matures, along with IOS 8, things will improve.

I *will* be contacting the developers of KNFB Reader, the more feedback they get the better the chances are that their app will improve.

As for Apple and IOS 8, we can complain, but since we are a rather small percentage of their customer base, VO and accessability issues will always take a back seat to issues that effect their mainstream customers. Never the less, I give them feedback as well. As my dad always like to say, "The squeaky wheel gets the grease". And, before I lost my vision, I was a software developer myself. My biggest complaint has always been that we never got enough feedback from our customers when problems occurred. We can't fix what we don't know is broken.

Submitted by alex wallis on Wednesday, October 15, 2014

About the getting warm and the battery, remember that things like tilt guidance if used continuously will eat your battery very quickly and probably cause the phone to warm up.
About the warming up, I wonder if heavy use of the camera, camera flash etc causes the warm up.
Also if you have the setting for flashlight always on enabled in settings this will eat your battery.
Remember that camera flash and this flashlight setting are different settings.
I have my flashlight always on setting turned off in settings, and the camera flash on automatic and I use the tilt guidance sparingly.
I have noticed sometimes the app takes ages to process documents I find in that case its often easier to try taking another photo rather than just waiting, and if that fails to exit and restart the app.
Personally I feel the app has been well worth it, I have used it to read letters from my bank and sort the post routinely for family members.
I have also used it to find information out about various medicines, I don't regret buying the app at all, and I am sure it will only improve with time.

Submitted by Orko on Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Ah, I missed the flash and tilt buttons, flash was on and now is set to auto, and tilt guidance was already off.

Flashlight was off, that button was a little confusing at first. It's labeled as "Flashlight is always on" making you think that the flashlight is set to on, you have to wait for the switch setting to be read to know how it is really set.

Since this is the only OCR program that I could get any results from at all, the other two I tried never did recognize that there was even any text to OCR, I still have high hopes for this app despite the bumpy start.

Submitted by alex wallis on Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Yes I agree the flashlight is always on setting could be labelled more clearly, as the switch name ends with on and the state can be on or off, Maybe it might be better labelled as flashlight, and then just have an on or off state, in fact I might suggest that.

Setting to auto is probably a bad idea because you are expecting the software to judge if the lighting is any good. I always left the flash to on, even with the original classic reader so it's best to possibly leave it at on at all times.

Submitted by alex wallis on Wednesday, October 15, 2014

but sometimes if you leave it always on you can have two much light, and get a sort of reflection or glare I think, especially if your taking photos of glossy surfaces.
I would say leave it on automatic, if you get bad results, maybe try off and if its still bad try on. That's why there are three states for users.

Submitted by Orko on Wednesday, October 15, 2014

That's a good point about the flash. For someone who is totally blind, leaving it set to on is probably a good idea. At present, I have some light perception, so I can tell if the area is well lit, so automatic will work for me.

I discovered that you have to be careful with glossy things, or you'll end up with a reflection of the flash, which will do wonderful things to the OCR's accuracy! ;-)

Submitted by Orko on Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Does anyone else see (hear) this?

When I try to get a field of view report, VO announces the field of view button's label while KNFB is saying the results of the report. To understand what KNFB is trying to tell me, I have to first turn off VO, tap the field of view button, listen to the report, repeat as needed, then take the picture, and listen to the OCR results. At some point, when needed,turn VO back on.

I never trust the auto setting on any of these readers. If you know the target document is glossy, use glass or something like that to take away the glair. I don't even know why I help any of you lot anyway, you all know more than me it seems with regards to these readers, even though I have been at this for years. To hell with it

Submitted by alex wallis on Thursday, October 16, 2014

Lol James, you seem to really like throwing your toys out of the pram, I never said you were wrong, I was simply offering an opinion along with some advice about other factors to consider. This is a community where we all try to help each other, and your above comment certainly doesn't seem in the spirit with this idea.

Even the documentation recommended that the flash be left on in most circumstances so sorry for just agreeing with it. Oh, the best way to get rid of glair is to use a plain background, cloth, glass, something without much colour but I guess you already know that as you appear to act like you know it all anyway, spending more time whining to developers instead of using the dam product.

Submitted by alex wallis on Thursday, October 16, 2014

James I am not even going to dignify your last comment with a response directly because of how aggressive it was, in fact I think I am going to ignore you now unless your making a comment I feel it relevant to come in on, I have no idea why you seem to have taken a dislike to me and decided to attack me I think its quite pathetic really especially as most of your comment had nothing to do with the app and was an attack on me. We are all hear to offer help and advice and there is no right or wrong answer, the camera flash settings are there for a reason, OK documentation might suggest leaving flash on all the time but this isn't right all the time, and I was suggesting it as being a cause of battery drain, as it happens I haven't ever scanned anything glossy so I have never needed to worry about glare myself.

Submitted by Orko on Thursday, October 16, 2014

In reply to by jrjolley (not verified)

James;

You need to remember that we are all different, and that what works for you, will not work for everyone else. Just because someone chooses not to use your suggestions, doesn't mean that they were bad or unappreciated. It just means that they decided they like their choices better than yours. Someone else may come along and think that your suggestions are just what they needed or were looking for, and will be happy they were there for them to find and use.

Take me for instance. Until about 11 months ago, I had useable vision, about 20/60. Now all I have is blurry light preception, so I'm rather new to being blind or having very limited vision. Even though I chose not to take your suggestion of setting KNFB's flash setting to always on, I still appreciated it because you explained your reasons and they were good ones. I'll remember them, and if needed, such as going totally blind, use them.

Thanks for sharing them!

Submitted by jrjolley (not verified) on Thursday, October 16, 2014

In reply to by Orko

Thanks for the comment, fair and appreciated. Removed the personal attack, only to save face with the admins of this site if nothing else.

Submitted by Orko on Thursday, October 16, 2014

James;

From your last message, it appears you are misunderstanding us. We are not refering to glare from the surface of what is being scanned is resting on, we are refering to glare from light from the flash being reflected back from a document printed on paper with a glossy finish, such as is often the case with magazines for example.

With documents printed on glossy paper, if you have the flash turned on, you'll end up with a picture where most of the text on the page will be washed out by the glare from the reflection of the flash. It's better to turn off the flash and use a light source off to the side. You could also try moving the camera slightly off to the side and aim it at the page at a slight angle so the reflected light from the flash won't come back to the camera, but OCR generally works best if the camera is directly over the page.

Submitted by KE7ZUM on Thursday, October 16, 2014

In reply to by Orko

Agreed. in my 20 years of experience with this stuff I have to agree. In fact I could do this with a scanner I once owned. I would turn off the lit or at least make it darker then scan and the results were much much better. I'm actually surprised that very few visually impaired people know this. It just make sence logically speaking if you did your studies on light like I did in my advanced biology class in high school.

I apply the same rule with video and picture. I never have a lite direct on me but behind me and off to an angle so that I don't appear like I've risen from the grave.

Submitted by Scott Davert on Thursday, October 16, 2014

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

The field of view report feature doesn't display at all, because it is self voicing. You'd think, with all of this pushing for braille literacy, coupled with the spread of deaf-blind awareness, that they would actually take such things seriously. That said, we've seen an update, and still no fix. Here's hoping it gets done the next time around.

Submitted by Bahzad on Thursday, October 16, 2014

Gene, I understand that the process of shutting off VoiceOver and then re-enabling it can be pretty annoying. You might want to try turning off speech (done with a three finger double-tap), which would allow you to use the same commands that you'd use if speech is enabled. You can double-tap the field of view report button and receive the necessary feedback. Once finished, just perform the three finger double-tap again. Hope that helps.

Submitted by Orko on Sunday, October 19, 2014

The point is that with this app being designed for blind and visually impaired people, you'd think they'd be aware that most of their customers will be using VO and make allowances for it instead of requiring that they first turn off VO to use their app to keep them from talking over each other.

The problem isn't only with the field of view report. I've also found that if you have the automatically start reading option turned on, it seems like both KNFB Reader and VO begin reading at about the same time and getting one of them to shut up without disturbing the other isn't possible. So for now I've turned off the automatic reading feature. The downside of that is now I have no way of knowing when KNFB Reader is done processing a picture so I can start reading it manually.

Darned if you do, darned if you don't...

Anyway, other than just playing with it, I had my first oppertunity to put it to real use today, and after getting through its issues with VO, it worked beautifully.

I realise that this app is new so it will have a few rough spots. Hopefully, over time these will be ironed out. I can already see that this app could be very useful. It just needs some maturing.

Submitted by Orko on Monday, October 20, 2014

Besides being blind to the point that I can only see light sources, I also have tinnitus. Hearing normal conversations with only one person talking at a time can sometimes be a challenge, especially if there's a lot of backgroud noise or the people I'm talking with speak softly. So having two voices running at the same time is definitely a problem for me.

Submitted by riyu12345 (not verified) on Monday, October 20, 2014

Hi.
When I take a picture with the ap voiceover usually stays quiet.

As for the field of view report, i hardly use it, and when I do I can hear the voice over voiceover, so the voice is louder than voiceover so it works fine for me.

Just mute speech when taking pictures and using field of view reports with the three finger double tap. All of these apps that use TTS will have the same issue, voice dream has done it.

It will be easy enough, mute speech with the two fingers, left takes pictures, right field of views it. Just do that, then turn speech back on if you want to save docs or do anything else. Thousands of us have to do this kind of thing with music apps and whatever else, remember the screen locked twice bug? Did it all the time then.

Submitted by alex wallis on Monday, October 20, 2014

KNFB have stated they are hoping to get rid of non VoiceOver tts messages eventually,
Personally I hope this happens sooner rather than later, I don't see the need for the two voices anyway, OK yes one does give options to read buy sentence, paragraph etc, but I think we should be allowed the option to disable this completely and hide the controls on the bottom of the screen.
I would also prefer it if field of view reports were read buy VoiceOver.
Also, really the app isn't even using a different tts, its using the same voice as VoiceOver, just not the proper VoiceOver function.

A different API and everything. I hope they don't remove the TTS actually because I want the reading to start as soon as possible, not wait for a page to render to VO. Just my thoughts. I understand why they have done it, not everyone uses VO and some may want the controls. If it's an option then fine but I don't see what losing a couple of lines does for folk, it's not like the rendering respects formatting anyway, it's a reader to talk pages at you

Submitted by sockhopsinger on Monday, October 20, 2014

I don't mind the TTS voice, although I do wish I had the option to disable it. One thing is for sure, though. The one in KNFB Reader is nowhere near as annoying as the one in BlindSquare.

Submitted by alex wallis on Monday, October 20, 2014

My comment didn't seem to post for some reason.
The problem with losing a few lines is they could be important lines, and I just think this tts should be made optional for those who prefer VoiceOver and don't need all this fancy navigate buy paragraph stuff and who are happy with the navigation options offered buy VoiceOver.
It would be nice to be able to hide those play pause controls, and also to have pages turn automatically in multi page documents as already happens in apps like iBooks for example.
I just find those controls on the bottom of the screen break the flow of reading up and get in the way as you have to stop VoiceOver reading when it reaches them.

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