One of the limitations of using the iPhone as a scanner is that most scanning apps aren't that good at optical character recognition, which translates a picture of a document into digital text that can be searched or copied and pasted into a word-processing document. The reason is that unlike a flatbed scanner, which holds a document motionless, illuminates it and creates a close-up scan, the images that a phone camera takes are shakier and contain imperfections like shadows, which make it more difficult to accurately convert the image to digital text. One program that strives mightily to get over that hurdle is Perfect OCR. It uses special algorithms -- the mathematical formulas that decipher images -- which are designed to compensate for the uneven lighting and shadows and boost contrast.
Additionally, PerfectOCR contains a feature called SureScan, which is designed to compensate for the shakiness in your grip. The app's maker, Pixoft, claims 90 percent accuracy in converting images to text. In case you're planning to scan documents longer than a grocery list, Perfect OCR can create multiple-page PDFs that you can e-mail, along with the translated text. It also works with documents in languages ranging from Portuguese to Russian [source: iTunes].