Monday, January 30, 2017

Short review: Whitelines vs. Google Docs

Sometimes we need to jot down things by hand. It's effective and works everywhere. You can bring a pen and paper in almost everywhere. So some people thought about how to get the analog notebook page into the digital world.

Left: Whitelines App       |      Right: Google Docs

Whitelines is a great idea. It's a combination of an app and special paper to write on. Google Docs on the other hand just scan any documents. Which one is better for what purpose?

Whitelines
You need special paper. If you have this marked sheets the recognition is quick and hassle free. The problem with scanning a document is elegantly solved. You don't need to align the sheet perfectly. The app detects the angle and corrects it to the right size and perspective. The resolution is not as high as it could be, but usable for most tasks. You can share your documents quickly via mail or many other apps. On Android it's easy to share it as a picture or pdf (you can chose in the settings) and use it with whatever app you want.
The paper has fine white lines and marks instead of black lines. You can write on it just like normal. If you scan your document, they disappear completely. That is a great improvement because this black lines on scans are just horrible.
Great for people who keep their notes in books by purpose and want a link to the digital world for sharing and archiving. You can get Whitelines compatible paper in many forms, diaries, notebooks etc. in various sizes. It's gonna cost you.

Google Docs Scan
Chances are you have Google Drive installed on your Android phone. Congratulations, you have a document scanner already on your phone.
You don't need any special paper, you can share it everywhere or archiving it in Google Docs. The recognition is not as good as in Whiteline. But if you put the sheet on a background with a high contrast to the document, you're also having a fluent and quick experience. Something you can't do in Whitelines: You can choose if you want Black & White, Grey and Color Drawing or just the original photo. And the most important part, you can crop the part as you wish. E.g. you want only a part of a document. Just crop that area and you're good.
Like Whitelines the perspective is also corrected. So no downturn here. But there is one thing: The black lines. Yes you will have that black ugly lines in your scanned document unless you write on blank paper. That however is not always perfect. By the way, you could use Whitelines paper with Google Docs if you don#t want to see black lines. Or you can use the good old method of laying a sheet of lined paper under a sheet of blank paper. Normally you can see the lines shine through the paper for an orientation. After you're finished take away that lined or squared sheet and there you have your brilliant, non-lines writing aligned perfectly. Just print the sheet you want with a high contrast on your printer and use it in any size.
Oh and by the way: You can use Google Docs on the web to do a full OCR (optical character recognition) to get the document accessible as much as possible, like searching for a portion in the text.

Conclusion
If you take your notes by hand on purpose and want a link to the digital world and willing to buy a premium notebook with that special paper you need, you're better off Whitelines. It's quick and easy.
If you want to scan many different documents and notes on all kind of paper, Google Docs will keep you with its integrated Scanner feature in the Google Drive app. It's probably the best if you normally take notes on digital device, but having to archive or manage analog documents within your workflow.