Office Lens

App review by
Keri Wilmot, Common Sense Media
Office Lens App Poster Image
Free scanner app for taking pics of documents & whiteboards.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids who have trouble with reading or keeping track of their thinking can scan the text and interact with it more easily. They can also convert files so it's easier to make notes and collaborate.

Ease of Play

It's simple to launch the app and take a picture, but kids may need help in the beginning to determine which setting to use and how to save the file.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the Office Lens productivity app works like a photo scanner. After launching the app, smartphone and tablet users can take a picture of a document, whiteboard, business card, sticky note, handwritten note, or poster. It's easy to take photos because the app automatically crops the background. Users can also crop photos by using the app to create a new image, and then photos are saved on the camera roll or as a file, which can be renamed, converted, and exported to folders for use later on. Read the developer's privacy policy for details on how your (or your kids') information is collected, used, and shared and any choices you may have in the matter, and note that privacy policies and terms of service frequently change.

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What's it about?

The OFFICE LENS app offers users a simple and free way to take a quick photo of important information, save it for use later on, and keep the information organized in digital folders during the process. A cropping tool allows information from the photo to be edited and saved on its own as a new document. Users can opt to take a photo in "selfie" mode, zoom in and out, rotate the image, and if necessary utilize a flash when taking the photo. Then photos can be exported for use in programs such as OneNote, OneDrive, and other cloud storage programs. If you need info in a different form, you can convert images for use as PDFs and documents in Microsoft Word and PowerPoint. Printed and handwritten text from cards, sticky notes, and other paperwork are also scannable. When searching for specific information on the device using a keyword, you can find those words in a document. While the app has a unique way to capture notes from whiteboards and blackboards without glare, it's best to use whiteboard surfaces that are clean and new for a clearer document. Business card information is automatically saved into the address book and OneNote without any data entry needed.

Is it any good?

Though fairly bare-bones, this solid scanner app might make taking notes and interacting with text easier for some kids. The main purpose of the Office Lens app is so adult users can easily take a quick photo of a document, business card, or other professional material -- like meeting notes or agendas written on whiteboards -- and save it as a file for use later on. This app is a great way to scan physical documents and information from daily activities at home and at school and create a digital copy rather than organize a lot of paper. Users who are familiar with the camera app on their phone and tablet will find the setup of this app very similar. The cropping feature makes it easier to capture important information from documents. Unlike a traditional camera app on the device, this app captures content from blackboards and whiteboards without glare. Kids and adults who have learning disabilities, writing issues, or memory challenges could benefit from this app to keep track of information. While kids may need some guidance from teachers and parents as to what kind of information would be most appropriate to photograph in their daily routines for use later on, and how to appropriately save the files, it's a solid app to help kids achieve more independence.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the Office Lens app can be used to take a photo of information a teacher may share at school on a blackboard or whiteboard, such as math formulas, homework, or study guides. This may be a better strategy for remembering specific details, rather than trying to rely on memory.

  • Talk about how an app like this might help. Do you get overwhelmed with a lot of handwriting, especially when you need to take notes? Do you often lose papers? 

App details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love note-taking and homework help apps

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