Expanding your app-titude

A monthly look at mobile apps that can make the CPA’s job and life better.
By Greg LaFollette, CPA/CITP, CGMA

MobileDay makes conference calls easier on the road

Have you had to dial in to a conference call from outside the office?

What a pain! Check your calendar or, worse, your email for dialing details. Click on the phone number (if you’re lucky!), and then try to remember the stupid ID number, hit pound or sometimes star, and then, if you’re lucky again, you’re on.

I travel a lot, and conference calls are a way of life. This “dial in” ordeal got old fast. I knew there had to be a better way. Turns out there is—an app called MobileDay that makes phone conferencing on the go a one-click breeze.

When installed, MobileDay goes through your calendar and retrieves your phone conference appointments, stores the dial-in and ID numbers, and, when it is time to join the conference, one click and you’re done. If you’re running a little late (not that I have ever needed this feature!), MobileDay can send an email so indicating—again, one click. To set up a call, just type in attendees and the time, and MobileDay does the rest using whatever conference service you use. This is what apps are supposed to do—make your life easier and your day more convenient.

  • Website: mobileday.com
  • Cost: Free; companies can pay for MobileDay Advantage services
  • Operating Systems: iOS, Android

Lost in translation? Try Abbyy’s TextGrabber

This is a simple idea with remarkable results. Abbyy’s TextGrabber + Translator app has you take a picture of text (camera or screenshot), and it then “grabs” the text, reads the characters, and converts them via OCR (optical character recognition) into text that can be edited or exported. Because Abbyy is pretty much the de facto leader in the OCR space, the app is stunningly accurate here. It’s an elegant process—aim your camera at the text, snap a picture, crop if necessary, and hit “read.” TextGrabber then scans the image to recognize the characters and puts them into an editable format.

After scanning the text, you have the option of translating it—either from English to another language, or from another language to English.

To scan a language besides English, you select the language to be recognized. Then the app uses Google Translate, so the output is only as good as that website. I tried a few English-to-Portuguese translations, and also the opposite (after adding Portuguese as a language to recognize). The character recognition from Portuguese was somewhat weaker than from English, and the translations seemed a bit spotty—sometimes complete words were missing. But these limitations are a Google Translate problem, not TextGrabber’s fault.

Once you have your translated text, you can tweet it, send it to Evernote or Facebook, search it, copy it to the clipboard, email it, or send it in a message.

If you’ve ever faced a foreign language sign and wondered just exactly what it said, TextGrabber could be your friend!

  • Website: abbyy.com
  • Cost: Varies; as of Jan. 8, $9.99 for iOS and $5.99 for Android
  • Operating Systems: iOS; Android

Greg LaFollette is a strategic adviser with CPA.com, the commercial subsidiary of the AICPA.


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