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nov 04 2009

Tech: Evernote's app lets you search for text in photos

(Courtesy Sean O'Neill via Evernote)

Updated this summer with powerful new features, Evernote's free mobile application lets you record memories while you're on the go, using your iPhone, Blackberry, or Palm Pre.

Jot down a funny anecdote or a bit of historical trivia using your device's keyboard. Or just speak the message, using the built-in voice-recording software. The app will synch up all of your info—and any photos—with a Web service that makes them accessible from your home or office computer.

The niftiest trick? Evernote can recognize text that appears in photos you take.

There are lots of surprising travel uses for this text-recognition feature. Let's say you check out a hip new restaurant like The Breslin in New York City. And let's also say that you may have knocked back a couple glasses of wine during your meal. In hindsight, you may be a little fuzzy about which ingredient made the house smoked ham so delicious.

Now let's say you anticipated this problem by taking a photo of the menu. Evernote lets you search for keywords, such as the restaurant's name or a word like "ham." Then it fetches the image of the relevant menu. (A-ha! The ingredient was piccalilli!)

A month passes. You're standing in the aisles of the wine store and you wish you could remember the name of the great wine you sampled at The Breslin.

Whip out your smartphone, search on the words "wine" (or "pinot," etc.), and the image of the menu with the exact details of the wine will appear.

What if you tend to take photos of lots of churches when your on a trip, but when you come home, you can remember which one is which. Easy! Take an additional photo of the name of the church as it's written on a sign or a paper bulletin while you're there. Then, when you come home. Search on "church" on Evernote, and all of the churches next to their relevant names will appear.

Tag your notes by trip name, or search for them by date or the geographic location where you recorded them. Organizing your happy memories just got a lot simpler.

But nothing's perfect, of course The app can be slow to use on AT&Ts; service. So I would use it selectively when wireless service is intermittent.

Free, download from Evernote's site.

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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