Evernote First Impressions: Text in Image Recognition for the Masses


Yesterday I received an email from Evernote saying that I was invited to beta test their app. Evernote is an app for both Windows and Mac platforms that allows you to keep both text and image notes in Evernote’s servers. You can then refer back to them when needed.

What attracted me about Evernote was not that it allows you to keep your love letters from your ex-lovers. It was the text in image recognition technology. Initially, I thought that this tech is built into their app. However, after using the app itself I was slightly disappointed because the text in image recognition is actually done server-side, meaning all those tech stuff is actually being done on Evernote’s servers and not right on their app.

How it works is every few minutes your app synchronizes with Evernote’s servers uploading changes (such as additions of new notes). It takes a while before those text in image recognition process is done on your newly uploaded pictures. I’m guessing every few minutes the servers undergoes the process of “tagging” all the newly uploaded images by users. So it’s actually a matter of luck how long it takes for your images to get synced.

However, I don’t think the “few minutes delay” thing matters because the use of this technology is to allow you to search images that contain words that you remember. Unless your memory span is less than a few minutes, then you shouldn’t be worry about this.


This is how Evernote’s Mac app look like.

To test out how Evernote recognizes text in images, I used the “New Snapshot Note” feature and took a quick webcam shot thru my built-in iSight. I took a picture holding up Uncle Toby’s “what I eat for breakfast when I’m running late for classes”.

Right here you can see that it recognizes the word “Apricot” very well and highlights the word Safari-style. Other words that worked was “Uncle”, “Yoghurt” and the first few numbers of best before date. Anything smaller than the word “Apricot” was not recognized. Fair enough, those words are too blurry anyway.

Next, I took a picture of my book shelf with my digital camera and made sure the picture wasn’t too blurry.


As you can see, the smaller words such as “Socks” could be recognized.


Here, you can see that even vertical words can be recognized! This holds true for most of the words that appear on this picture except for those that are half-shadowed.


Just for fun, I typed in all alphabets a to z in the search box to yield all alphabetical results. Here you can see what words were picked up by Evernote’s text in image recognition system. It’s not too bad for a consumer-based product!

Of course, this is just one of Evernote’s many cool features. If you’re interested to know more, head on to www.evernote.com!

P/S: Evernote is currently invitation-only beta.


14 responses to “Evernote First Impressions: Text in Image Recognition for the Masses

  1. I’ve got 10 Evernote invites to give away, anyone interested?

  2. Do you still have the invites tzechuen?
    Can I have one plz?

  3. Yes I sent an invite to your email. Enjoy!

  4. You would think that a programmer would know better than to use a photo with a shadow over half of it, what’s the point of making sure it’s not blury if you’re going to do something like that? Of course it’s not going to be able to read those, in order to account for situations like that it would have to have awareness of the world and not just ocr. What I want to see is what it can’t read under good conditions.

  5. I somehow feel complimented for being called a programmer, the truth is I’m heading back to Malaysia in 2 weeks after having no luck in securing a job here down under after graduating last August.

    Do let me know if you’re hiring, my experience may not be wealthy but I’m seriously dedicated when it comes to all things technical ;)

    But yes you are right – I should have taken account of texts that the app won’t recognize under good conditions. But at that time I was probably just having a premature blogging excitement.

    After all, this post is going to celebrate its one year anniversary in a few weeks time!

  6. They were mostly programming books, but I guess I shouldn’t have just made that assumption.

    Sorry not hiring atm… and I’m not really sure anybody is right now.

    What part of Australia?

  7. Yeah I did a computer science degree, so you can say my major was somehow related to programming.

    I’m located in Adelaide, South Australia atm, but I’m most willingly to relocate.

    Always thought my strengths lie in sys admin related stuff, but I would love to get my hands on in a programming career and see how I go.

    I assume you’re in the IT field? What do you specialise in?

  8. My specialty is PHP, C and problems. =D

    You should try sending your resume into some web development companies over there? System admins are generally in need, especially those who don’t mind programming when there’s no system admin work. Because you’re in a hurry I’d suggest cold calling the ones you are interested in and asking to speak to the lead tech. Introduce yourself to them and quickly list your skills and tell them that you looking for a job. It would also help if you find a company that you are genuinely interested in working for. Letting them know why you contacted them first instead of other companies will help your chances. Finish by asking if they are in need of anybody with your skills. They will more than likely ask you to send in your resume, but because you have already spoken with them they will be a lot more interested in reading your resume. When you send it to them make sure to point out at the top of the email that you are heading back to Malaysia in two weeks if you are unable to find work.

    Unfortunately, even if you do all that, like I said, it’s a pretty bad time to be looking for work. Good luck.

  9. That’s a well written advice – I thank you for taking the time to write it out. And yes, I agree it’s a pretty bad time especially when companies are axing down the number of employees rather than buffing ’em up.

    Perhaps I may come back to Aussie again in the future, then I can put your advice to good use ;)

  10. hello, I see we can search some text in a picture, but what if I want to FIND text ? Is there some option that you say “find text” or do you have to tell which word precisely Evernote has to find? I can’t do like you : to “type in all alphabets a to z in the search box to yield all alphabetical results” for each picture.

    thanks a lot and sorry for my english…

  11. Evernote recognises text in English, but I tried it on a Syrah with a faux handwritten label, and it failed to recognise ‘Petite’, ‘Syrah’, ‘Montel’, etc.

    Pretty impressive, but no French? Tant pis!

  12. Henrietta Pudding

    How did your job hunt go? WE NEED TO KNOW

  13. Try http://www.generalpicturerecognition.com/ this is picture recognition and tagging. Feedback shows that the oftware works very well.

  14. New to Evernote… trying to upload pictures and I haven’t seen any text recognition. Been about 20 or so minutes. I guess maybe just have to wait a little longer?

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