Is KNFB reader worth the money?

iOS and iPadOS


I was considering purchasing the KNFB Reader app while it is on sale. Is it worth the money? How accurate is the OCR?

Thank you!



Submitted by charles on Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Get it while it's discounted! I find the accuracy comparable to OpenBook 9 at a heck of a lot lower price. The features that guide a totally blind user to assure getting a good picture are worth the money. The speed is worth the money. The quality is also worth the money. It will read other stuff, but good results aren't gauranteed. Your computer screen might be able to be scanned for errors if your screen reader doesn't pick them up. Some product packaging may be able to be read. Use your imaginatin.

Submitted by DPinWI on Wednesday, December 24, 2014

I think it's worth it, especially at the sale price. Like all of these sort of apps, it rewards practice and perseverance.

If I need to know what something is, rather than read what it says, I have been reaching for Talking Goggles. If I need to read or re purpose text, I use the KNFB app. It's not perfect, but it's fairly easy to get a very accurate scan.

Submitted by Carlos Alonso on Wednesday, December 24, 2014

I just bought it yesterday, bought a couple of discounted iTunes gift cards and my net cost was $62.50 - I know it was good because of the opinions already posted in Applevis, but frankly I regret not having bought it before even at regular price, - if you do get it, I recommend reading the manual before trying it for best results, but the first quick pic I took without reading the manual was a business card I had laying around and it read it flawlessly - first time, later on I was able to read my computer screen, and various other pieces of paper, in my opinion it's an essential app and well worth the price.

Submitted by Paul on Thursday, December 25, 2014

I can't say I'm surprised by the responses here. Anyone who has forked out $99 on the basis of others saying the app is good probably aren't going to be honest if they don't actually like the app, because that would undermine their justification for spending so much money without even being able to try the app first.

My advice is, if you already use an OCR app on a regular basis, don't get KNFB Reader unless you would willingly flush $100 down the toilet for nothing. I highly doubt that the orientation functionality is worth the price tag if you already use an OCR app you're reasonably happy with. On the other hand, if you don't already use an OCR app, chances are you can get along without one just fine, and should only spend the money if you can afford it without the risk of an unexpected expense coming along that puts you into debt without the money you spent on the KNFB Reader.

Bottom line, testimonials and audio demos don't matter with something like an OCR app because the performance of the app has many variables that can't all be controlled and as such you should treat its purchase the same way you would a bet in a game of chance. If you're happy to come out with nothing for your money, and you don't need to sacrifice anything to buy the app, buy it, otherwise, don't buy it and hope the devs grow a conscience and offer a free trial in the future.

Submitted by Usman on Thursday, December 25, 2014

I agree with the above comment. to this end, I don't think I will purchase the app despite it being discounted.

Submitted by Toonhead on Thursday, December 25, 2014

I bought it and am very happy with my purchase. I get a lot of printed mail, so it could really help out. It'll take me less time to read it than having to wait for a pare of working eyes to get around to it. and sometimes, mail is time-sensitive, so if you get a notice and you have to act on it farely quickly, you would want something that would allow you to read it, and KNFB reader will do this, and do it very well.

Submitted by gary rogers on Thursday, December 25, 2014

I have only gotten good results about 3 times out of the approximately 150 document pages I hav e tried. Even when I got a good result, I was not able to duplicate the result using exactly the same document, position of phone and lighting. KNFB Reader is one of the few paid apps I have regreted buying. My plan was to use it away from home because I use openbook at home. There definitely needs to be a free trialperiod for this app. Had I been able to try it for several days, I would not have purchased it.
The other free or lower priced scanner apps are just as good (or bad) as the high priced KNFB Reader.

Submitted by riyu12345 (not verified) on Wednesday, May 18, 2016


TO all those saying we need a demo piriod. I agree and think those that want a demo time should write to the developers of the app to see what they say.

For me I find the app is amazing. Very fast, very easy to use and very easy to understand.

One thing I've learned is that you need to have your phone quite a bit away from the document.

Reading the manual might help. I didn't and can use it perfectly without having done so.

Submitted by Toonhead on Thursday, December 25, 2014

This is only version 1.3 so we are very early in the development cycle. I do also agree there should be a limited trial version of the app. But for those who do buy it, the results are pretty good. It's better than any other OCR app I've ever used, and I've used pretty much all of them. It's not going to be 100 percent perfect all the time, asking for that is just unrealistic. But it'll be enough that you can pretty reliably read something, and gain a bit of independence.

Submitted by Usman on Thursday, December 25, 2014

Due to the fact that the sentiment remains mixed, I believe I along with others will in fact hold off. I'm all about cheaper alternatives. so far, I'm not seeing a definite majority of success stories. Of course, there is always the possibility of the app coming down in price so worth waiting for IMO.

Submitted by Carlos Alonso on Thursday, December 25, 2014

I have used an iPhone for over 4 years and have tried most if not all of the free and low priced OCR apps and don't get the comments that the KNFB app is the same as all the other apps - what am I am missing here? I'm not trying to sell anything or justify my purchase or being in denial just because I spent the cash. I read all the comments negative and positive and thought I had a pretty good idea of what to expect - I am not at all disappointed, it is not as reliable as a flatbed scanner, but who in their right mind would think it was? It is a portable solution and works great, that's all there is to it. Now whether is worth it depends on one's usage. I have a scanner based solution on my home office and at work, and have lived without a mobile solution this long, so no, this is not a total necessity, for me I need something like this I can use in meetings and when not at my desk. It is convenient and accurate, of course you have to take into account all the variables that flatbed scanning solutions don't have to deal with plus is being used primarily by blind and low vision users. Whether it's worth it depends on one's situation but to say it's no better than the other or apps out there is just not even close to being right.I am using an iPhone 5s and don't know how it works on other devices but without a doubt this is the best OCR out there for the blind. Period.

Submitted by Roxann Pollard on Thursday, December 25, 2014

First of all, I overwhelmingly say yes to the worth of the app.

I have been a Kurzweil for Windows PC user for more than seven years. I first started with Open Book in it's early days and found I had to tweak it many times to gain accuracy. I am certain that OpenBook has come a long way since those early days but I didn't want to reinvest in it just to see the changes. When I converted to Kurzweil, I have found I rarely have to even adjust the settings. Since I have been so satisfied with the Windows version of Kurzweil, I couldn't wait to get my hands on the iOS version.

Remember, the KNFB Reader was designed from the ground up for the visually impaired. According to the podcast for the app, they took in to account that sometimes we don't have our hand lined up squarely over the page despite the fact that we think we have it right.

To my delight, one of the features they added to this app is the ability to upload documents to DropBox.

I have tried the lower priced OCR apps and had little to no success. With the KNFB Reader, I consider it to be an essential app, along with the LookTell Money Reader app.

What I would say is that, if you purchase the app now at the discounted price and you should find that you dislike it, then it's less money than you would spend at the full price. Quite frankly, I was very surprised that they discounted this app at all, especially since it's so new.

Finally, as other comments have reflected, this app is very new, thus, there is bound to be some issues but the developers will work those out. I encourage you to try it if you want a portable solution. For me, there was never a doubt with regard to the purchase. The Kurzweil for Windows PC cost somewhere north of $1,000.00. When I seen the price for the iOS version, I didn't hesitate.

Thanks for reading this long-winded post.


Submitted by jrjolley (not verified) on Thursday, December 25, 2014

I was one of the very few who actually use, and still have the original PDA solution that combined a computer with a digital camera. Mine's still going strong actually but the technology within the iPhone reader is more or less the same but obviously a lot better. One of the underestimated things about the KNFB Reader on the iPhone is that it uploads to dropbox. I use this for correspondence, exporting them to HTML and uploading to dropbox for storage. It's worth it for the independence alone of having the choice to access print. I wouldn't go back, but I was already a fan of the technology in the first place.

Submitted by Paul on Thursday, December 25, 2014

To Brad: As one person who thinks KNFB Reader should have a free trial, I have been quite vocal to the developer about it. At this point, I think they just see me as a squashed bug on their windshield. All the points I make in this post I made to the developer, and as far as I can remember, the developer ignored my comments, or responded with another of the arguments I list in this post.

Here's what I've seen from the developer:
1. They've blamed Apple for not offering a "try before you buy" system in the app store.
2. They've claimed that an in-app purchase to unlock full functionality is confusing or misleading.
3. They've claimed that using an in-app purchase to unlock full functionality would reduce the perceived quality of the app.
4. They've claimed that Apple's app guidelines don't permit a trial mode in an app.

Here's why I believe they're wrong:
1. Apple doesn't need to offer a "try before you buy" system because in-app purchases can be used to offer that functionality.
2. While app store button labeling may once have been seen as misleading, it is no longer the case, and it would have been easy enough for the developer to point out that an in-app purchase is needed to unlock full functionality in the app description.
3. Offering a free trial potentially shows that the developer has enough confidence in their product that they're prepared to allow users to try it before they buy it.
4. Based on my own interpretation of the item the developer referenced from the app guidelines, and the availability of apps that offer a trial mode, I believe the guideline prohibits apps that only act as a trial for a paid app with no ability to unlock full functionality with an in-app purchase, or an app with the only purpose of demoing an API or UI with no real useful functionality.

Based on these points, I have to conclude that the developer of KNFB Reader is either greedy or lazy. I would say stupid, except that they somehow managed to convince a community of people who are for the most part on low incomes to cough up money for an app they haven't tried for themselves first.

Submitted by riyu12345 (not verified) on Wednesday, May 18, 2016

wow. yes there should be a trial to check it out. I'll email myself, sure I might get the same response as you but at least I tried. I like doing that anyway. As for it being the same as other OCR apps. I totally disagree, sure maybe the concept is the same, take a picture and listen to what it is, but the design made for the blind is not. I find this ap to be amazing. As someone who tried kersewale when I was a kid in school, (it had a keypad and a bulky scanner,) I think this very portable OCR scanner is awesome.

Submitted by alex wallis on Thursday, December 25, 2014

Personally I dislike apps with in app purchases,
this is because lets say the app gets pulled from the app store or iTunes suddenly goes down, you could easily be left with a crippled app if you want to reinstall it,
I found this to be the case with a dictionary app a while back which I purchased,
they pulled it from the app store then my in app purchase stopped working,
I prefer to own an app completely and out right without the need to restore purchases.
with the dictionary app I mentioned earlier I in the end bought the fully payed version even after the version with the in app purchase was returned to the store because my purchase stopped working and I couldn't be bothered to spend days trying to get it resolved with support.
As for the idea of having a trial version its difficult, because lets say they have a demo version that doesn't allow saving of documents or a version that lets you recognise only a set number of documents what's to stop greedy people simply deleting and reinstalling a trial version after it expires and making use of it before doing the same again?
OK yes you could set up some sort of registration system but that would be annoying for those who payed for the app outright.
Oh and I think the app is definitely worth it I have used it countless times over this year most recently with an amazon receipt and with train tickets.
I have also used it with sorting mail for different family members and to read financial correspondents. Its particularly useful to make sure I open my letters instead of my dads.

Submitted by Usman on Thursday, December 25, 2014

I wonder if this technology will be introduce to the mac? As far as I know, this another part of the system which lags behind. I'm hearing lot of very mixed results regarding decent scanning apps for the Mac. It would also help with the pdf issue as well.

Submitted by alex wallis on Thursday, December 25, 2014

knfb reader uses mainstream ocr technology the engine it uses is abbyy fine reader for its results and I guess has some specialist technology on top of it.

Submitted by Justin on Thursday, December 25, 2014

First of all, merry christmas.
Second, I think they could bring it over to the mac side, since they are using mainstream OCR software, they could build on the iOS app, or maybe build something like Kurzweil 1000 or something at a lower price. Thee whole try before you buy would be nice, but I understand there reasons, and bought it right when it was released. The lower priced scanning apps for iOS didn't work like this one, so I am very happy with my purchase.

Submitted by DPinWI on Thursday, December 25, 2014

If not for your insight, I may have remained deluded and unaware that I had be sucked into the KNFB Reader scam. Now I know that when i use it to successfully scan and read printed material with an accuracy I was previously unable to attain with other apps, I am just fooling myself. How I wish you had spoken up before i purchased it and saved me from the convenience and independence it affords me.

Okay, with my tongue no longer planted in my cheek, I can say that you are entitled to your opinions. Please give me the same courtesy and refrain from dismissing my opinions as the post purchase justifications of a sucker. Sometimes, you get what you pay for. Yes the app is expensive. But, I can afford it. Yes, it would have been nice to have a trial version, but I trusted the early reviews from the community. And yes, I am happy with my purchase and willing to pass on my experiences with it to the community.

I hope you are successful in your campaign to get changes to the app's marketing approach. There is a significant portion of the market who would prefer a chance to use an app, especially at this price point, before plunking down their money.

Submitted by J.P. on Friday, December 26, 2014

Thank you for that DPinWI.. I was biting my tongue.
Sorry Paul, you can't talk about something you don't know. Its your choice not to buy the app.
However, I'm no sucker for buying the app. It certainly was worth the $99. I spent for it.
Their is no OCR app that compares. That's ok though, I'll enjoy the app while you complain about the app you've never used.

Submitted by charles on Friday, December 26, 2014

In reply to by DPinWI

In regards to your post, my subject line just about sums it up. When asked my opinion of an app that I have bought, I do not lie just to justify my monetary loss, and am highly offended by anyone who suggests that I do so, especially if the offender does not personally know me. I bought the app based on the results of both testers and users as well as on a podcast I found at Applevis. I totally agree with what they have reported, but my agreement is based on firsthand experience wih the app. If you want my opinion and I give it to you, whatever you do, do! not! call! me! a! liar!

Submitted by riyu12345 (not verified) on Wednesday, May 18, 2016

I totally agree. I will give advice and never lie about an app and how it works for me.

Submitted by riyu12345 (not verified) on Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Hello bradley:
Thank you for your message and suggestion. We will be considering implementing a trial version of the KNFB Reader app in early 2015. Have a great weekend.

Best Regards:
Hai Nguyen Ly
Technical Support Specialist - K–NFB Reading Technology Inc.

So that's good news.

Submitted by Travis Roth on Friday, December 26, 2014

It is difficult to say what the value is or "is it worth it" for each individual. Depending on your needs for reading, your other needs, cost threshhold for non-life essentials...
Points to consider:
I have found the app to live up to its billing, and it scans well given I am not the best picture taker.
No, it is not always as accurate as a flatbed scanner, because I am not a good picture taker. If I get a perfect picture, then it basically does a perfect OCR.
The extra processing it does of pictures before running OCR does help me. You ask how do I know? I have the app TextGrabber, which is from Abbyy, which is also the commercial OCR engine that KNFBReader uses. I compared the results by taking pictures of the same document in my usual picture taking mode (not using any type of stand.) using both apps. KNFBReader got better results. THis is not a scientific study, but its real-world for my use case.
Now, if you are an expert photographer, or are willing to always use one of the portable stands to get good alignment, make sure lighting is ok and so forth, then no you do not need KNFBReader. You can get a cheaper app such as TextGrabber or Prizmo.
If you are not the aboveabove or can't or don't always want to use a portable stand, have had problems getting consistent scans with other apps, then KNFBReader may be for you.
As a side note, if you have any device older than an iPhone 5 I'd recommend upgrading the device first as you will be disappointed by any OCR app because of the camera.
So in conclusion, the app works. Whether its worth the cost to you or not is something no one else can decide.

Submitted by gwen on Wednesday, December 31, 2014

For this review, let me first say that I am not a member of NFB, and I have no overriding desire to either praise to the sky or trash to the depths this application. I am going to try to give a reasoned and rather dispassionate report on the KNFB Reader app as I see it so far.

When it first appeared, I was very interested. But I had been very interested before in several different OCR recognition apps and had purchased many of them with, for myself, minimal or miserable success. This is not to say that they don’t work for some people; they just did not work well for me. So from this perspective I was extremely wary. I listened to the demo that was done at the conventions. I found it very intriguing, but again, I kept in mind that it was a demo made by the company and distributed in order to promote its product. That is what a demo is; a company makes the demo that will show its product in the best light. I was bitterly disappointed that the one I listened to did not have, at the end, a trial read of a document or something else from someone in the audience. That would have made me feel better. I did not purchase the app at that time.

I began to read the many comments posted on AppleVis, some extremely positive, some of them extremely negative, and some of them a bit vituperative in their language. I also listened to the podcasts created by some purchasers. Were these purchasers totally blind? If not, did their limited sight help them use the app more efficiently? Was the field of view report really that helpful? The jury was still out, and I did not purchase the app.

Several days ago, while lurking on the AppleVis twitter feed, I noted that the app had been reduced by 25 percent for three days. I figured I would never get an opportunity like this again, so I bit the bullet and bought the app.

My first attempt at scanning a document was a miserable failure, but it was not the fault of the app. I have been recovering from hand surgery, and, of course the surgery was on my phone hand. I am a one-handed phone user. I cannot get the two-handed approach to save my life. So I waited a few days until the pain was not so bad, and tried it again. I initially found a letter and read it on my flatbed scanner using OpenBook just so I would have a gauge as to the accuracy of the KNFB reader scan. I then used the field of view report and carefully aligned the phone with the document. This Tooke me about three minutes to do. I then took the picture, and the result was really good. I felt that it read the letter as well as my flatbed. I then sent the saved document to my dropbox account and then emailed it to several people to show them my success. I also used Microsoft Office Document Imaging tool to scan a document. I then converted it with PDF Creator, which I do with my important papers, and then sent myself the pdf. I ran that through the KNFB Reader with excellent results.

I am now trying other things. I have not gotten the knack of reading envelopes with total success. I am not sure about the image reading yet because I have not tried it.

I have ordered a Scan Jig for reading multiple pages, but I really want to get proficient with using the app freehand.

The list, which I have joined, has several knowledgeable and helpful people on it. As I get better, I hope to be a good contributor on the list to help others, not just ask questions.

In retrospect, I am glad that I have purchased the app. It will only get better as it grows and develops, and we as users of it will only get better as we practice and become more familiar with its capabilities. I also do have to admit that I am glad I got it on sale. I do, however, realize that its cost is high to absorb the various fees that are imposed on it, OCR engine, and speech and Apple fees. Also, people that strictly work on developing software need a way to fund the roof and the food. I feel that over time the app will become so much more; it will become a very necessary and integral part of my daily life.

Submitted by Dave Nason on Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

I was skeptical about spending so much on an OCR app but I picked this up on sale last week and so far I'm very impressed with the results. Admittedly I'm partially sighted which may help a little, but I still find the alignment guidence very helpful, and am having far better results than I ever had with other OCR apps like Prizmo. I had previously pretty much given up on OCR on the iPhone, but I'm definitely back on board now.

Submitted by Mike Freeman on Wednesday, December 31, 2014

In reply to by DPinWI

I question whether a demo version (either limited by functionality or time of use) is truly realistic for an OCR app. These apps take quite a bit of practice in general and there are enough variables in any portable OCR system that IMO one's results are almost guaranteed to vary even from scan to scan of the same document. That's not a fertile environment for demo versions of anything.

If you don't want to purchase the app (and that's OK -- it's your loss), why not just be honest and say that you're cheap and for the price you will have to pay for the KNFB Reader app, you'd just rather judge it by your results with all the other OCR apps you've tried -- abysmal -- rather than taking the plunge.

Submitted by AlexKLMan on Wednesday, September 21, 2016

For those who are unhappy with the KNFBReader, couldn't you contact Apple for a refund? I done this with apps like King of Dragon Pass.

Submitted by Karen L on Friday, October 28, 2016

In reply to by Usman

I, like a lot of other people, are put off by the price of this app! Why do these companies always take advantage of the disabled? I've been looking for a cheaper, or even a free alternative to KNFB which works the same way, but up to now I haven't been able to find anything. Can anyone recommend one for me.

Submitted by JeffB on Saturday, October 29, 2016

Hi Text Grabber is okay it doesn't always get everything but it gets bits and pieces and from there you can guess. Its not that good for things you have to read or I'm just not good at taking pictures. Another thing the app does is it adds pictures to your library so you have to go delete them after. Other than that its alright.

Submitted by raaj on Saturday, October 29, 2016

I would say yes, only while they give deals during Christmas or some other time. It will be reduced to 50% then.

Submitted by Siobhan on Saturday, October 29, 2016

Hi all. I tried other apps with as one woman pointed out failure or miserable success. I lived in a household with four other people, so I was always getting packages, but others did too. I don't enjoy accidentally opening another's mail, no matter how unintentional it may be. They'll only give you a pass once before they don't like it. Having this app lets me read any incoming mail on my own with for the most part pretty good accuracy.

Submitted by david s on Saturday, October 29, 2016


If it’s in the budget, get it. Something you can also do is wait for it to go on sale and at the same time, shop around for itunes gift cards deals. For example, around turkey day in the US or so, you will find 100 dollar gift card going for 75 dollars.

Personally, I think it’s worth the money even at full price. It’s one of those apps you wonder how you did without. I find it easier to use the app rather than rely on my 10 year old to come home from school and read things to me.

For those looking for alternatives, there was an app called voice. It was a project this student worked on while he was at school. I am not sure how good it is but you can search for it here at applevis using the search function.

HTH and good luck.

Submitted by charles on Saturday, October 29, 2016

People say that we are being taken advantage of by pricing the KNFB Reader so high. These same people try other, less expensive apps in hopes of getting great results at a bargain basement price, or for free. To be honest, folks, you're going to get what you pay for in this case. One person suggested an app that will get bits and pieces that you can use to deduce the content of what you're attempting to read. That's not what I want for my money. If it were, I'd go with a cell phone that speaks the first 2 levels of the menu system. After all, it's cheaper than an iPhone, and it will, sort of, do what I want. I do not feel that the KNFB Reader is unfairly priced in comparison to the cost of OpenBook or other such OCR software at roughly $1,000.

Submitted by Brian Giles on Sunday, October 30, 2016

I finally caved and bought the app last year with the help of some iTunes credit, and I have no idea how anyone gets meaningful results out of it. It's a little better with my SE, but it usually says that it can't find any text, or I just barely get enough text to know what I'm looking at. I agree with people who say this app is over priced.

Submitted by david s on Sunday, October 30, 2016


As with most apps. Practice is the key. If you have the app and you aren’t getting good results, post here and let us know how you are scanning a document and what message you get.

Here are some things I’ve observed with people getting poor or no results using this app.

Is your device in a case? I’ve noticed some cases where the phone slides a bit thus the camera view is blocked. Also, with wallet style cases, the cover or flap could be hanging down a bit that it covers the camera view. To make sure this is not the issue, remove your device from the case and try it.

Another possibility is the angle of the camera in relation to the document. If you don’t want to use the guidance feature, you can try this. Place the document on a flat surface like a table, not on your lap or pillow. Place your device on the center of the document. Using both of your hands, each one holding the opposite sides of the device, slowly raise your device. Raise the device high enough that both of your elbows are resting on the table. Using your index finger, double tap on take picture.

Sure this app isn’t cheap but if you get the hang of it, you will appreciate it’s usefulness.

HTH and good luck.

Submitted by Jordan on Sunday, October 30, 2016

The problem I have is that when a sale goes on for Android for this app, it does not also go on sale on iOS. I finally broke down and purchased it, and while the price was a bit high, it works reasonably well. If you consider the cost of Doc U Scan Plus on Windows to be around half of what their competition charges for a similar product, you can't always say you get what you pay for. The KNFB Reader app is a good app but just a little overpriced for most people especially those on a fixed income.