KNFBReader For iOS Now Available For Download From The App Store

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

After much anticipation, the KNFBReader app for iOS finally landed in the iTunes App Store today.

Having been the subject of much speculation, blind users will now finally have the opportunity to see if is has been worth both the wait and its $99 asking price.

From looking at the feature list, it is already quite clear that KNFBReader is likely to take OCR on iOS devices somewhere it hasn’t previously been. It is packed full of features, all of which are designed to help blind uses get the best possible result when scanning documents.

The KNFBReader app allows users to capture pictures of virtually any type of printed text, including mail, receipts, class handouts, memos and many other documents that you may encounter. It also offers support for both single and multiple page documents. 

Once an image of a document has been captured, KNFBReader recognises the words and reads them aloud to the user with text-to-speech and Braille access. 

Michael Hansen has recorded an in-depth walk-through and demonstration of the app, which should help give some idea of whether you think it will be worth $99 of your money (as we had been led to expect, there is no trial or lite version of this app available).

KNFBReader is optimized for use on the iPhone 5s, although it also cites compatibility with the iPhone 5 and 5c. It requires iOS 7 or later. 

If you’ve downloaded this app, we would love to hear your comments on its performance.



Submitted by alex wallis on Thursday, September 18, 2014

I couldn't wait to spend my money to buy this app, and I have already had perfect success using it in under 5 minutes, I was able to use it to read a sales slip and also a delivery note informing me items I had ordered were out of stock.
I now want to try and find something really complex just to see how far I can push the app.I also used the reader on a closed cd case, and with this the app wasn't perfect but it just about got the title and a fair bit of the description of the cd which was an audio play in a normal cd case

Submitted by KE7ZUM on Thursday, September 18, 2014

I want to see it read a computer screen that is just eirhr booting up or stalled, the former case mgiht be more doable. Also i want to see it read a power point lecture from 15 to 20 feet away, plus documents on crappy paper and bad print where it's almost faided beyond believe. I want to try and push this app to the braking point and see where it will fail and crap out.

It works, let's hope the company supports it and doesn't request we pay for 2.0 versions at the same price. I am impressed with it though, does what they said it did and will be using it to read magazines and things.

Submitted by Lisa on Thursday, September 18, 2014

Hello all,
How does this app do with reading and identifying various peaces of mail? For example, reading who the mail is from, and the person's name on an envelope? Also can you take a picture of say a shirt, and have it tell you what color it is? Or is this app just for reading text? Thank you.

Submitted by Jayson Smith on Thursday, September 18, 2014

Is there any information about how you are supposed to hold the phone and position the camera for the best pictures? In what orientation do you hold the phone, etc?

Submitted by sockhopsinger on Thursday, September 18, 2014

There is a podcast out there that explains all of this. I am listening to it now. From what I can gather, the tools for helping align documents are pretty phenomenal. Lisa, this reads text. It does not identify colors. I was hesitant to buy this at first, but the more I listen, the more I think I am going to bite the bullet.

Submitted by jcdjmac (not verified) on Thursday, September 18, 2014

Hi all, I cannot wait to try this app out. herd it's grate, and it will finally make reading documents easyer. let's hope it's werth the price.

Submitted by alex wallis on Thursday, September 18, 2014

Hi all, just wondering has anyone been experiencing reliability issues with announcement of field of view report information? the situation I am finding is that when I take several field of view reports quickly I get the first few announced, then sometimes the speech just stops giving the reports completely, sometimes its for 1 or 2 clicks of the field of view report button, other times feedback for the reports stops completely and I have to restart the app.

Submitted by Edward Alonzo on Thursday, September 18, 2014

I think that this app is going to revolutionize how we all read printed text as a blind person. I myself, wasn't ever able to purchase the KNFB reader on the nokia phones or the very first portable reader that they put out.
I really like the fact that it seems to be incredibly fast, responsive and very accurate. I also like all the tools it gives up for making sure our document is alined properly. I just purchased a stand scan a few weeks ago so I will be interested to see how well this app does using this device for multipaged documents. Hats off to @knfbreader.

Submitted by sockhopsinger on Thursday, September 18, 2014

I know from the podcast that the KNFB Reader comes with a user guide. Is it available online to read before purchase? Thanks.

Submitted by Darrell Bowles on Thursday, September 18, 2014

From what demos I have heard, I really, really, like it. However, I will not be able to use it for a long, long, time. As I plan on upgrading my phone threw T-Mobile, that takes priority. Maybe if I can sell my current device, I might venture in to getting it, as I can see some uses for it. However, now is not the time, and I still think that 99.00 is a bit much. I'm not asking for free here, just saying the price is more than my phone's down payment, wich is a bit out there.

Submitted by Mike Freeman on Thursday, September 18, 2014

Has anyone tried this app with an iPhone 5? I don't plan to upgrade until at least next May and while I don't mind the app's price (I know how much development work has gone into this app and its cellphone and standalone predecessors), I am loath to spend the sheckles if the iPhone 5 camera just won't cut it. OTOH I've been told that the iPhone 5C isn't all that different in hardware from the 5 so perhaps there's hope. :-)

Submitted by alex wallis on Thursday, September 18, 2014

I just sent some very detailed feedback on knfb reader to them with some bug reports and suggestions to improve the experience for users. I have pasted my message below, so it will be interesting to see how they respond to it.
message begins now.
I am writing to give you some bug reports and feedback on the initial KNFB reader release,
I really like the app and have found it very easy to use, however I have found a few bugs and had some thoughts on how the user experience can be improved.

I should start out buy saying I am running the app on an iPhone 5s running ios 7.1.2,
the first bug I have come across and most serious I believe is that giving of field of view report feedback is unreliable,
I have found that if I take several field of view report pictures in a few seconds of each other that speech often fails and I am not given any report
after hearing the camera shutter sound,
I always wait for a report to finish before taking the next report.
Sometimes speech fails for just one report then recovers, at other times speech fails completely and I have to exit and restart the app, when speech fails
VoiceOver is unaffected and its just field of view reports that are not read, I am not the only user experiencing this.

The next bug I have encountered is on the about screen the give feedback button doesn't work with VoiceOver at all it doesn't respond to a double tap.

Speaking of help I was looking at the user guide and I noticed that when describing the tabs in settings the user guide describes the text tab as being
called visual tab not text tab.

Those are all the bugs I have found, now I am going to describe some usability issues I have encountered with the app and reading documents which I think
if they could be adopted would make working with and reading documents so much easier.

Firstly I don't want to use the non VoiceOver tts with the app, I prefer to have VoiceOver do the reading for me, so if there was a way to hide the play
and other controls on the screen such as next sentence that would be great.
Secondly when reading with VoiceOver it is extremely annoying to reach the bottom of a page and to suddenly have to stop reading just to tap the next page
button, other apps such as iBooks turn pages automatically when reading with VoiceOver so it would be great if this app could also be made to do the same.

I think if this is done a setting should also be added to allow the user to decide if they want page numbers announced when a page is turned, a sound played
or simply nothing to happen so that VoiceOver could just continuously read.

Speaking of page navigation, there is no easy way to navigate a multipage document such as the user guide we have to use the next and previous page buttons,

I have three suggestions for page navigation, firstly at the top of the document on the left of the screen where it shows the page number you could turn
that into some kind of picker item that would let you quickly select a page you wanted to turn to.
Secondly for a very large document such as say a book that might have several hundred pages you could have a button that when tapped would allow you to
enter a precise page number to go to.
Thirdly you have no buttons to quickly move to the first or last pages of a document.

I hope you find all this useful and if I can be of any more help please let me know.

Submitted by Blind Adrenaline on Thursday, September 18, 2014

Is this reader compatible with the latest iPads? Specifically the iPad mini with retina display?
I know on the KNFB site, it says only the iPhone 5 series is compatible, but I was under the impression the iPad mini WRD had comparable hardware.
Thanks for any info.

Submitted by Macky on Thursday, September 18, 2014

The two main recurring questions are how well does it work and is it worth the price. Its seventy pounds here in Scotland and I can honestly say it's worth every penny. I have had vary little success with other ocr apps but I got a full page on my very first attempt with this. I've also managed to get it to read the sky epg to me from around ten feet away, also on my first attempt. I've also managed to read a few pages of a magazine and can confirm it handles glossy pages well too. And I'm using an iPhone 5, not the 5s. In short, this app is a bench mark and game changer. Very impressed

Submitted by KE7ZUM on Thursday, September 18, 2014

In reply to by Blind Adrenaline

I can't look at the itune sstore as Im not in the us right now. but I woudl guess if the discriptions does not say ipad then it is not for ipad. Maybe suggest that to the knfb folks and see if they can do that in a future major release. You realse though this might have to be another app as I don't think it will support both interfaces in 1 app if that makes sence, unless they call it universal.

Submitted by J.P. on Thursday, September 18, 2014

I just read an entire Equifax credit report without issue. Scanned on first try. Absolutely worth my money. AMACING!
I have only encountered one problem, tried to read back of frozen dinner. It didn't work well. With that being said, neither does my EyePal Solo.

Submitted by Edward Alonzo on Thursday, September 18, 2014

Hello: I just posted some stuff earlier I think on this form but I just downloaded the app and love it!
I an running IOS 7.1.2 and an IPhone 5, the first envelope I scanned was something I received in the mail, and it read almost perfectly with out even opening it.
I was truly amazed. this will really make it a lot easier to even see if I wanna bother opening all those annoying advertisements I get from time to time.
@knfbreader, you've done an incredible job. hats off to the team.

Submitted by jrjolley (not verified) on Thursday, September 18, 2014

In reply to by alex wallis

I know, we disagree again Alex but I think the fact that the TTS reads the text instead of VoiceOver is an advantage because the reader has to render the page when used with VO instead of starting to read right away with it's TTS. The page navigation issues you mention are fair but this is still a 1.1 release.

I'm not getting the issues with the field of view reports either but that means nothing. I am also running a 5S unjailbroken.

I have found the app to work great, but to be fair, don't always rely on the field of view reports. I always used to just literally point and shoot with the original reader and indeed the intel reader I have now so it's unnecessary to keep doing them. These readers are meant to give context, not be word for word accurate if you see what I mean.

Submitted by Nathan on Friday, September 19, 2014

Hello, all. First off, let me begin by saying that I have used other apps such as Text Detective and Prizmo. While these apps were okay, they weren't very successful in capturing text. Now, comes along the highly-anticipated KNFB Reader into the AppStore.

First Impressions:

First off, I wanted to provide this app with a considerable challenge, that is, reading a newspaper. Newspapers are often multiple-column documents, so I ensured that the multi-column settings were turned on, before taking pictures. As far as the Field Of View Report is Concerned, it worked great and was fine, but other times, there would be absolutely no speech at all. The speech would just stop responding.

After taking my first picture, I was impressed with the speed of the OCR processing (I am using the IPhone 5S. I would say that the processing time is equivalent to a Pearl Camera from Freedom Scientific. However, I was not impressed with the ability of this app to read "newspapers" at all. It would read some of the articles fine, then, there would be a bunch of junk text. This happened repeatedly, no matter what page I was on of the newspaper. On the other reader, there used to be an option to toggle between different document templates--for example, bills, recipes, books, newspapers, boxes, mail, e.t.c. At present, the only options for document type are single and multi-column, which isn't nearly enough document types. Also, there is no language translation abilities, no way to edit pages (you can't delete them to my knowledge, but you can add a new one), and this version overall, is very basic. The price is too expensive, and should be lowered, due to the poor quality when reading newspapers. Sometimes, when KNFB does demonstrations, everything is scripted, and they choose a document that will be most suitable for the reader--but, it certainly isn't newspapers. Furthermore, the reader won't read boxes or cans, like the old one would. I tried reading a box, and half of the time, I got "Field of View Report is Not Available." On the occasion that I was successful, I flipped my IPhone to landscape mode, then got a bunch of junk text. You can tell that the developers didn't put a lot of time into their scanning engine, and that, price surely matters. On the old reader, rarely, would I get junk text, it could read labels, and this $99 thing can't even come close! In my opinion, it should be $20.00, if it can't read all documents. A company shouldn't release a product, until they are sure it is ready, will have few bugs, E.T.C. They only had 10 beta testers. That's not very many in my opinion. This app still needs a lot of improvements. I have not found any User Guide, but I imagine it's under About. Very disappointed, but already spent the money to try. Hopefully, it does better with other documents, but I highly doubt it will capture a PowerPoint from 15 feet away.

Submitted by Nathan on Friday, September 19, 2014

Just wanted to clarify that I'm not an app developer; accidentally checked this box when creating an account, and I couldn't get it unchecked for some reason. i

Submitted by alex wallis on Friday, September 19, 2014

Hi Nathan, to respond to your points they have said language translation is coming in the future, about the number of testers, that's down to restrictions from apple not knfbs choice.
about newspapers remember they are highly graphical so depending on if you have a tabloid or broadsheet your milage may vary, knfb have stated that apples buying of the testflight beta service should allow them to increase there number of testers.
about using the buttons to play back text, I am all for choice I am not saying remove that option simply give VoiceOver users the option to hide those controls.
remember this is an initial release people, who knows what changes and features they have in the works.
about the scanning engine, recognition is done buy a mainstream engine called abii fine reader which is mainstream and very good quality the engine isn't something knfb cooked up themselves.
In fact the use of abii fine reader is probably one of the reasons for the high price as presumably knfb have to pay licensing fees to the people who own abii, I would love to know if they are using the latest version of abii though.

Submitted by KE7ZUM on Friday, September 19, 2014

Iv'e heard of the fine reader you speak of. Yeah that software alone is I believe over $300 and works well, on the mac so I hear. Alsoyou did not speak of which phone you were using so results would vary dependong on what the camera does.

I think many users are not considering the obvious here, we are using a camera with a very small sensor in it. I think expecting a phone camera to do a superb job with newspapers is really quite silly because firstly, many blind users wouldn't encounter the need to read them anyway because we have other options like talking newspapers and magazines as an example. I've used the original classic reader and have an intel reader here as well, both of them would do quite badly with newspapers. The factors of camera distance and how the columns are broken up will always play a part in the reading.

Remember, we're not out to get 100 per cent accuracy from this, context is everything.

P.S., I understand Alex's point about removing the controls for play and pause but that's just probably not going to happen because the KNFB folks seem to want you to use the TTS They have to listen to the output instead of VoiceOver. It makes sense because VoiceOver would have to wait for the entire text to render before it lets you navigate it. I think that is probably why you are having issues with the field of view report not speaking, it'll be audio issues with the TTS. The TTS does speak the field of view report outside of VoiceOver, i've tried it.

Submitted by jrjolley (not verified) on Friday, September 19, 2014

Fine reader isn't cheap, well it's relatively cheap for consumers but a fortune to licence it the way the KNFB folks have. Doing that though is probably the greatest decision that company ever made. The engine can be updated successively with each release version and this will get better by design.

Submitted by jrjolley (not verified) on Friday, September 19, 2014

I want to just say something really quite simple, enjoy this reader. All the folks who are excessively doing field of view reports should just have confidence. It's only a guide anyway and probably not as reliable as a human. I used to do all that with the original reader and you could spend more time than needed to get results, just place in the middle, pick up, move left a bit and shoot. Chances are you will get good results.

I'm not saying this to whine just install a bit of confidence to the community. This stuff isn't hard now that it works on our devices, we just need to appreciate what we have I think.

Submitted by Aaron C on Friday, September 19, 2014

Have you ever tried scanning a newspaper and reading it with a general desktop OCR package? I did, though it was quite some time ago, and the results were terrible. Would be curious to know how the bits that gave you trouble would do if OCR'd on a computer.

Submitted by Mike Freeman on Friday, September 19, 2014

If Nathan hasn't listened to Mike Hanson's excellent podcast on the KNFB Reader, may I suggest that he do so. There *are* options to change how scans are interpreted. And there *is* a user guide.

for a first cut, methinks the KNFB Reader app is far superior (at least for blind users) than anything available heretofore.

Submitted by Nathan on Friday, September 19, 2014

Hi, all.

I gave this app a challenge; reading newspapers. No, I have never tried reading one with a desktop package, but I'll pick up an issue today, and try it. Have OpenBook, so will use that. Yes, there are ways to change how the scans are done, but you can only change the document orientation to single or multiple columns. I'd be glad to listen to the podcast, but, really, the app and its controls are quite self-explamatory. I'm sure this will do great with other documents like mail, magazines, and restaurant menus though. I just wish it read packages better, but after all, you also have to consider that this product isn't a bar code solution, so will not be as accurate with packages. I really don't know if the original reader was good at reading lables, as I never tried it. I will say that I believe the Nokia camera in that phone is actually still better than Apple's cameras. Mary, I was using the IPhone 5S (I put that in my initial comment.)

Not sure what I will use all of this app for, except for maybe a restaurant menu. I mean, yes, you may receive mail, but 9 times out of 10, at least for bills, you can set everything up electronically, so there's no need to really read these. So, you might get a birthday or Christmas card, or some junk mail that you could read. But, where this app may come in handy for me is restaurant menus. I like the feature about being able to convert PDFS, as well as read in Braille. Wasn't really complaining, just thought it would read newspapers better is all. I guess this is a challenge for any scanner or device, though.

Submitted by Nathan on Friday, September 19, 2014

Hi guys,

This app is very excellent at reading textbooks! So, I could see this maybe replacing the expensive scanner options. It would be good for students to use for scanning a chapter and saving it in their IPhone. I have no doubt that with future releases, the ability to edit documents will be added. Furthermore, this will be a great app to read bills at a restaurant.


Submitted by Unregistered User (not verified) on Friday, September 19, 2014

I would be interested to read a comparison of this app with Text Detective.
I have had some success using text detective, and wonder if this app would really be worth the 99 dollar pricetag.
I would buy it if it was significantly better than text detective.

Submitted by alex wallis on Friday, September 19, 2014

Funny you should mention textdetective, I just withdrew my recommendation from that app and explained why in a comment, so have a look at that. But I have found results far far better with knfb reader, I mean detective hasn't been updated in a year and I think is probably what I think of as a zombie app, in other words one that is still alive in the app store but abandoned buy its creator. also, look at the guidance knfb offers you to assist with lining up, we get no guidance in detective or similar apps like talking goggles, we have to wave our phones and hope with both of those apps. also I don't think detective uses an engine that is anything like fine reader, I mean I think the app was something like 60 pence, so if it has an engine its going to be primitive at best and probably something brewed up at home buy the detective developers.

Submitted by jrjolley (not verified) on Friday, September 19, 2014

In reply to by alex wallis

World first folks, I agree with him (just kidding). Text detective didn't really work much for me, I got a bit of success now and again but the KNFB reader is much better than any of the others. I had even less success with prizmo but I didn't really put the time in eventually because I got bored of hoping.

Submitted by Ka Yat Li on Friday, September 19, 2014

I've used Text Detective and Prismo before I purchased KNFB reader and I found that text detective didn't work for me at all and I would rarely get good results with Prismo. With KNFB, I am able to get good results most of the time. Even if I don't get a perfect scan, I still get more readable text compared to Prismo and Text Detective.

Submitted by techluver on Friday, September 19, 2014

Hi all,
So I'm extremely impressed with this KNFB reader. It does a remarkable job. On my first attempt, I was able to get about 50% accuracy with an envelope and that's having never used it before. I worked with my mom on it becausse I really want to get better and need to because I'm in college and this would be really useful in school. My mom gave me a tip that really helps if people are having trouble, at least it worked for me. Put your phone on whatever you are reading, then line it up. Only then lift straight up, and split tap on the take picture button. I got about 98% accuracy with several college-style documents, which is basically what I'll be using the app for. I'm really happy and think it was worth every penny.

Submitted by Darrell Bowles on Friday, September 19, 2014

Okay, so let me just say that I have heard the podcast, and I am empressed. However, I still think that 99.99 is a bit much. I'm not saying I wouldn't buy it regardless, only that 99 is a bit high. The reason why I am saying this is because a down payment on my mobile phone from T-Mobile, (IPhone 6 + 16 gb, should I get it, is 77.00. The ap costs more than the down payment, and while lisencing fees and things must be taken in to account, I think that they would get more people to get it, buy lower the price somewhat.

Submitted by techluver on Saturday, September 20, 2014

Hi, Has someone noticed a whooshing sound, after first launch of KNFB reader app? It happens about once every five seconds regardless of where you are. home screen, music app, etc.

Submitted by Nathan on Saturday, September 20, 2014

Hi there, techlover,

I have not encountered this problem. You might try describing the sound more in detail to others on here, so they can help you out. Or, you can notify KNFB Reader at That's there email.

While this app isn't perfect 100% of the time, and what scanner app is, I agree that it is way more accurate than either Prizmo or Text Detective. However, any scanning app will drain battery very fast, so I would recommend having a case with an extra one for longer documents.

Submitted by raaj on Saturday, September 20, 2014

I've gone through the podcast and I was impressed for sure. But still, I think it needs more developments. I wish it'd be cheaper so that we like from developing countries will buy and benefitted with it. 62 rupees =1 American dollar. So as per the Indian app store, I found it is for rs.6,200. I feel it's higher side for an app. I'm sure if the price has been reduced a little, many of our country students will get benefitted for their studying purposes.

Submitted by Kerby on Saturday, September 20, 2014

I searched for knfb and knfbreader and knfb-reader and all I could find is knfb reading technologies Blio ap. Ideas on how to find the KnfbReader ap? Thanks

Submitted by techluver on Saturday, September 20, 2014

Thanks! that was it.

Submitted by soleiro on Saturday, September 20, 2014

Submitted by xenacat3 on Saturday, September 20, 2014

Should I even try this on my 4s? I am also waiting for a performance comparison vetween both of the new iphones to see if it would be worth spending m more for the better image stabilization

Submitted by alex wallis on Saturday, September 20, 2014

Hi all, just to clear one thing up people might be wondering about, knfb reader has two settings to do with light, one to control the camera flash that can be set to on, off or automatic, and under settings an option that says flashlight always on, which can be set to on or off.
Now as I understand it the difference is this, flash is triggered when the photo is taken, the flashlight setting is separate to this, and I believe uses some kind of weak light on the back of the phone as a kind of torch which is separate to camera flash.
I believe sighted people can even use this flashlight if they need a torch. Note using this flashlight always on setting can drain your battery. I have also found tilt guidance can drain your battery very quickly as well.

Submitted by Jesse Anderson on Saturday, September 20, 2014

I have been using the KNFB Reader app quite a bit for the past couple of days now, and impressed with the quality of scan's I'm getting. I've tried mail, letters, computer screens, and back of boxes in the kitchen. I sometimes have to try an item a couple of times, but generally get very good results.

I did find one major problem though, which I just reported to the feedback address in the app. I was able to use the iPhone 5 with no problem. Responsiveness and picture results were both good.

However with my new iPhone 6 Plus, VoiceOver is not getting along with the KNFB Reader ap at all while on the initial camera screen. I am using the Alex voice. I can't swipe or move my figure around to move between the controls. VoiceOver seems to become very unresponsive, jitters around, and makes the ap kind of useless on the initial screen.

I know most of the screen on the left is to take the picture, and most of the screen on the right is to do a field of view report, so I just temporarily disable VoiceOver, and tap either side of the screen. This is the work-around I've found for at least making the app usable on my phone until this problem gets fixed. Interestingly, VoiceOver behaves fine on any other screen, like the settings or file explorer screens.

speaking of which, no one has really mentioned the PDF and image scanning features. I've tried several PDF files, and results have been quite good.

Oh, one more bug... I'm guessing this is an IOS 8 issue more than a KNFB Reader issue, but I can't export to other apps at the moment. I can choose a file type and which app to send to. After choosing an app though, nothing happens. I think the hand-off bug may be effecting this feature. I have this problem with both my iPhone 5 and 6 Plus. I can send files into the app via mail though, as I've done this several times for PDF files.

Submitted by Aaron C on Saturday, September 20, 2014

Hi all. I have KNFB running on my 4S with IOS8. I can say that it does work, and the results are acceptable, though it certainly isn't as fast or accurate (thanks to the poorer camera) as it is on the newer models. I wasn't able to find it by searching in the App Store; I had to visit the link to the app directly on my phone. Your mileage may vary, purchase at your own risk, 4S is not officially supported, ETC.

Submitted by changedheart421 on Saturday, September 20, 2014

Hi All,
One of the reasons I have held off on this is that I keep my phone in a Otterbox Defender case. I just got the 6 yesterday and a new case for that one as well. Do others who have been using this have cases? Do you remove it to have better access to the camera?