In daily or business scenarios, you may need to scan and transcribe texts in files, pictures, invoices, and receipts. Optical character recognition (OCR) API plays a vital role in extracting text from images and PDFs and receiving the data in JSON, CSV, Excel, or other file formats.
This article introduces OCR API and three popular OCR APIs, including Google Vision, Microsoft Computer Vision, and Amazon Textract. This article also presents PDFelement, a more practical OCR solution.
OCR API can analyze the framework of files and break down the files into blocks of tables or lines of text. Then, the lines are subdivided into a single word and characters. A business can build integrations with existing systems by using APIs. This can help meet specific business requirements and help reduce the time that is required to train employees on a new platform.
Top 3 OCR API Tools
Google Vision is a cloud OCR service. It can identify handwritten contents, plain texts, and other forms of data. It also can detect information from scanned documents and images and allows you to implement OCR in the RPA workflows.
Google Vision is not a "ready-to-use" product. Before you use Google Vision, make sure you have programming skills and experience handling a decent amount of coding. Make sure that you also have professional knowledge in adding user interfaces for scanning and data validation.
There are several solutions for you to choose from. The pricing includes pay-per-use Cloud Vision API, scaling monthly charges, and flat rates per node hour with free trials for AutoML Vision and AutoML Vision Edge. You can create an account to evaluate the cost if you are a fresher.
Microsoft Computer Vision
Microsoft Azure Computer Vision OCR is an AI service that analyzes content in images and video. It can extract a string and its information from an indicated UI element or an image.
The basic features of Microsoft Computer Vision contain text extraction (OCR), Image understanding, spatial analysis, and flexible deployment. Based on embedding cloud vision capabilities in apps with it, you can increase content discoverability, instant video analysis, and automatic data extraction. Also, it can be used for other OCR occasions, such as Click OCR Text, Hover OCR Text, Double Click OCR Text, Getting OCR Text, and Finding OCR Text Position.
The cost of Microsoft Computer Vision depends on the frequency of transactions. The Computer Vision API is free if you only demand 5,000 transactions free per month. However, it would be expensive if you require more.
Amazon Textract is a service that can extract content, text, and data from documents automatically. Beyond a simple OCR technology, it can recognize data from forms and tables. Using Textract, the user needs to do is to upload the file, then in a short while, the user will get the text, table, and forms in a structured file.
Textract OCR is based on a deep-learning neural network. If someone verifies the extracted information (human in the loop), it can tune to the data and leverage the accuracy on the architecture. However, it isn’t completely customizable or trained on a custom dataset.
There are four different APIs in Amazon Textract: District Document Text API, Analyze Document API, Analyze Expense API and Analyze ID API. The free package only lasts three months, and the details of each month are as follows:
- Detect Document Text API: 1000 pages
- Analyze Document API; 100 pages per month (form or table functions) and 100 extra pages
- Analyze Expense API: 100 pages
- Analyze ID API: 100 pages per month
Cases of Using OCR API
OCR APIs are significant in many cases in the real world. Here are some examples:
Financial industries, along with banking, attach much importance to OCR. They use it to scan and recognize handwriting text from checks, bank statements, and profit/loss statements. Time can be saved in processing loan and mortgage applications.
OCR enables hospitals and organizations to store all patients' records digitally. The past illness, treatments, and diagnostic tests are searchable in a database. Besides that, extracting data from insurance applications helps to offer better service between patients and insurance companies.
There are many of handwriting content in legal scenarios. This industry can digitize statements, affidavits, judgments, wills, filings, and other printed documents with OCR readers. Plus, OCR makes it possible to search and find documents from past millions of cases.
Limitations of OCR APIs on Some Occasions
Although OCR APIs are practical and offer an accurate output in most cases, they still have some limitations. They are not convenient in the following situations:
Some OCR software performs poorly in distinguishing lookalike characters. For example, recognizing the difference between the number "0" and the letter "O" is challenging.
There can exist huge differences in each one’s way of handwriting. If the word is not written clearly, the OCR may not identify it.
Many OCR software are good at extracting content in English. However, if you upload a file in a language with cursive letter variations, such as Arabic, the output may fail to reach your satisfaction.
Some OCR APIs find it difficult to transcribe too small or too large sizes of characters.
Best OCR Software for Computers and Smart Phones
Compared with the above-mentioned professional tools, if you are looking for a user-friendly software to extract text from documents, PDFelement is your best choice. It offers an intuitive interface and prompts to ensure a smooth user experience. Even though you don’t have any experience using OCR, you can successfully extract text from the file the first time.
PDFelement provides you with a variety of features. It allows you to make all edits or modifications to PDF on this single application. Regarding OCR, you can freely convert the file from an image or a scanned PDF. After conversion, you can use whatever format you want to export the file.
PDFelement OCR supports many widely-used languages, such as English, German, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Romanian, Turkish, Russian, Polish, Czech, Dutch, Hungarian, Thai, Vietnamese, Swedish, Malay, and Indonesian. The output of text in these languages is tested thousands of times to make sure it gives you an accurate and precise result.
More importantly, PDFelement is designed to support various situations. You can download it as an individual application on the computer and phone. Besides, it adapts to both Windows system and macOS. In offline mode, the text-only recognition to extract text from scanned documents is still available.
If you are bewildered by processing a large document, PDFelement is also the best choice. Using the software, you can OCR a PDF with a maximum of pages up to 100. Plus, you can process OCR on up to 10 files simultaneously. The Batch PDF shown below is designed for you to handle multiple documents.
Steps for Using PDFelement OCR on iOS devices
To convert a file with PDFelement OCR, perform the following steps: select OCR, select a language, and download the output. The following figure shows an example of how to use PDFelement for iOS to convert a file via OCR on iPhone.
Step 1 Upload the file
Launch the PDFelement application on your iPhone. On the home page, find Tools and tap OCR PDF. Select the file to start a new task as prompted.
Step 2 Select a language
You can select a text language as listed on the page. You can select up to three languages at the same time. Then, tap Next to process the document.
Step 3 Save or edit the file
You can obtain the recognized text after approximately a few seconds. You can modify the file using various tools provided by the application, or you can directly save the file.
Note: Alternatively, if you opened a file in PDFelement, you can select the icon in the upper-right corner of the edit interface. Then, tap Recognize to start.
Google Vision, Microsoft Computer Vision, and Amazon Textract are the top 3 APIs for OCR that you can use for various scenarios. However, APIs are more complex and require high fees.
PDFelement is designed to meet your daily usage requirements. You can use PDFelement to transcribe texts from documents in various formats efficiently. Download PDFelement now and enjoy a smooth experience whenever you edit PDFs on your phone or computer.