Which is the best app for performing OCR of documents: Envision AI, Braigo Companion, Seeing AI or KNFB Reader?

iOS & iPadOS


I am in a little dilemma and need some advice.

The government in my country is able to purchase KNFB Reader for me, but I would like to know if it is worth it as Seeing AI is also available here, and I do not want to waste money unnecessarily.

I have used Braigo Companion and Seeing AI in the past and have had favourable results with both of them, but I also know that the OCR capabilities of Envision AI and KNFB Reader are significantly better.

I would like it if you would answer some or all of the following questions:

<ul><li>Could you rate the four apps in the order of consistency of accuracy? In your experience, what sorts of things do the apps struggle to OCR correctly?</li>
<li>If you have more than one OCR app installed on your iDevice, how do you decide which app to use for a given situation?</li>
<li>For those of you purchased KNFB Reader before Seeing AI became available, which app do you use most often for performing OCR now? Why? Do you feel guilty that you have to use KNFB Reader because it cost so much?</li></ul>

Thank you very much for your assistance.



Submitted by Sasha Stride on Thursday, January 25, 2018

I would say Seeing AI. I am not much for KNFB Reader because I cannot afford that because it is about 1500 kr in swedish currency. I think Seeing AI is sufficient. As for NVission AI I. Don’t use this because they are going to change to a subscription plan and I cannot subscribe to anything. I like Braigo very much too. I would say either Seeing AI or Braigo. I have been using Braigo a lot.

Submitted by AnonyMouse on Thursday, January 25, 2018

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Hey TJT,

Personally, here are my thoughts on the many different OCR apps out there. I'm going to mention one that you hadn't mentioned but also rank of my thoughts.

1. Prizmo Go (Free)
2. Seeing AI (Free)
3. KNFBReader (Paid)

Those are the only three that I have on my device and the order that I use when I need an OCR result on something. Noticed that the first two are free and I think Prizmo Go does an amazing job for being free and I surely do believe that it does as well as the KNFBReader.

Now in saying that. KNFBReader does have its perks. If you are waiting to scan multiple documents at one sitting. IF you want to be able to edit the OCR right in the app instead of saving it somewhere to later to be modified and you are going to scan a high number of documents on a daily use then I think KNFBReader does this well. However, as others have said and many of us can agree and relate. Is that the price for this app is quite high and many of us can't simply plump down right now to purchase it if you are on that fixed income.

Lastly, I hadn't mentioned or suggest Envision AI simply because at some point this will be a subscription-based app. So, because of that it isn't on the list of suggestion as I don't want something to pay monthly when I have other great options that are not subscription based and are simply either free or a onetime purchase.

Those are my thoughts and I hope it helps you.

Submitted by TJT 2001 on Thursday, January 25, 2018

AnonyMouse, thank you for your response.In your experience, which of the three apps provides the most accurate OCR? I'm more concerned about reliability of accuracy than price. I do ink it's great that we have two great free OCR apps, but I want to know if the OCR quality improves with paying more.

Submitted by Jesse Anderson on Thursday, January 25, 2018

I've had KNFB Reader since its release, and don't regret buying it at all. It does a good job of scanning most materials pretty accurately. KNFB Reader also has a few advantages as mentioned earlier in the thread. I also like using it to quickly convert inaccessible electronic documents to something readable. People often send image-based PDF files, or other text in image formats. If you open a file as a mail attachment, through a cloud service, or wherever, and VoiceOver fails to read it, just tap the Share button, and choose KNFB Reader. It will virtually OCR the text, and you can save or edit it as you wish.

I also like Prizmo Go as a solid free option, and recommend it often, especially if people aren't sure how often they'd use OCR. Many people start with that, and get KNFB Reader later for its additional features.

I also like Seeing AI, not so much for the document mode, but for the Short Text Mode. As a low vision user, I can quickly point my phone at something I can see, but not read and have it instantly read aloud. this is great for room signs, labels, business cards, or other short items. It's been surprisingly handy.

Submitted by gregg on Thursday, January 25, 2018

I have used all of the aforementioned apps. A stand makes all of the apps work better until you get freehand scanning perfected. If most of your printed documents are books, I recommend the fopydo stand.

Submitted by Pyro2790 on Friday, January 26, 2018

I would say every OCR app has its advantages and disadvantages, but i have honestly not used KNFB Reader since i downloaded Seeing AI. Its an incredibly powerful app with many different abilities including OCR. Its free and in my experience has scanned things way more accurately. I still have both apps but haven't used KNFB reader in ages. Seeing AI is definitely life changing. Its incredible what it can do and I can't wait to see what other great features they may add in a future release.

Submitted by Rafal on Friday, January 26, 2018

While scanning please consider privacy. If you recognise Any text with an app that uses Internet, you don’t know if its content is somewhere. KNFB reader does the job offline so nothing is sent to the servers.
Secondly, KNFB Reader does not drain too much battery in comparison to Seeing AI which only works perfect with English texts.
So if your language is not always English to work with, then go for KNFB Reader too and this feature that recognizes pdf documents is nice.

I know it is so expensive and in my view its functionalities should be modified to make the app much better. But my point is that this app is worth purchasing especially if you can get financial compensation for that. Such chance may never happen again but free apps you can download at any time, so go for it.

Submitted by Luke on Thursday, March 1, 2018

The only OCR app I've tried on my phone is KNFB Reader. I got it about six months ago and I don't use it daily, but it seems pretty solid when I do need it. Honestly though, I do not see how they can charge $200 for it, as it is far from perfect -- both in user interface and recognition accuracy. I'll try to briefly break it down here:

* Advanced scanning options for multi-page documents, different scanning languages (if that's something you need), and so on
* Fast. It seems to process the scanned image quickly
* Flexible. From what I've found just poking around, it seems to have a lot of settings/options (I guess that may be a pro or a con, depending on your needs)

* Expensive for what it is.
* Hard to known when the phone is lined up properly, especially for larger targets like an 8.5" x 11" piece of paper. You have to push one of the volume buttons every time you want it to give you a status update on its position. It would be far more useful if it automatically made some kind of sound or verbal announcement when the document was in full view and properly aligned
* The so-called "tilt guide" which causes the phone to vibrate incessantly until you get it exactly level. This might be useful if it weren't so dang hard to get it level! It never seems to be happy. LOL. A more sophisticated OCR program would be able to automatically account for a slight tilt during processing, sparing the user this headache

That's really it, I guess. Overall, it seems to do the job but I can't fathom how they're getting away with charging so much, knowing full well many in the blind community receive a fixed income. Anyway, such is life. I happen to have a well paying job but I know this is not the case for all, and I think they could drop the cost significantly.

Submitted by Roxann Pollard on Thursday, March 1, 2018

I have the KNFB Reader and Seeing AI. Personally, I recommend Seeing AI for the reasons mentioned previously in this thread.

There is something I wanted to mention in this thread, however. A blind friend of mine said that she actually had her sighted daughter use KNFB Reader to scan a hard copy book for her. She said it was very fast for her daughter for the obvious reasons. So, if someone happens to have a willing sighted assistant and they need a hard copy printed item to be scanned, then perhaps this might be an alternative. Of course, the app was made for the visually impaired but wanted to given an example that I recently became aware of in case it might be applicable for others.

Finally, as others have stated, if you have an agency willing to purchase the KNFB Reader, then go for it. You can then download the other free apps mentioned in this thread and then choose the best case uses for each app. I feel they all have their own benefits, depending on what you need. Only by working with each of them will you determine what works for each situation.


Submitted by Malcolm13 on Thursday, March 1, 2018

I would encourage people to take a look at the latest developments of the Envision AI app. It now has the ability to recognise multiple pages and has a system for helping with camera placement.

This is a rapidly evolving app and the developers actively encourage feedback and listen and take on board what people say.

I am a devotee of this app and I would like it to receive the recognition it so richly deserve.

Give it a try you will not be disappointed.

I used to use KNFB when it came out but Envision AI is now the app I first launch to perform OCR tasks these days.

It recognises handwriting too.

It can describe a scene and can be trained to identify objects and faces.

I write impartially, I have nothing to gain from doing so.