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How to use the new iPhone Live Text OCR in iOS 15

One of the handy new features that arrives with iOS 15 is the ability to quickly recognize text and select, copy, paste, lookup and more in both the camera and photos app. Let’s take a look at how iPhone Live Text OCR works from photos to screenshots and handwriting as well.

Live Text may not be as flashy as other new iOS 15 features like FaceTimes SharePlay, but it does offer a lot of convenience.

Until now, you needed to download a third-party app to get this functionality on iPhone and iPad. But with iOS 15 (iPadOS 15 too), Apple includes optical character recognition (OCR) as a hassle-free option in the Camera app, as well as for photos and screenshots you̵

7;ve already taken in the Photos app.

How Apple describes the feature:

There is so much rich information in your photos, from memorable places you have visited to handwritten family recipes. iOS 15 uses secure intelligence on your device to help you discover more about your photos, quickly find what you’re looking for, and relive special moments.

iOS 15 is currently available as a beta developer. IOS 15 free public beta arrives in July, with the official release set for fall 2021.

How to use iPhone Live Text OCR in iOS 15

In the camera app

  • With iOS 15 In the Camera app, look for the new Live Text button (three-line viewfinder square)
    • Bottom right corner in portrait direction or bottom left in landscape
  • Make sure the yellow viewfinder rectangle appears when the camera notices text as you move your camera around
  • Once you have the yellow viewfinder that surrounds the desired text, press the Live Text button to be able to select, copy, look up, translate and share recognized text
    • And text such as phone numbers, emails, dates, addresses, etc. Contains live links that can be traded with a long press
  • If the Live Text button and the yellow viewfinder do not appear, try getting closer to the text
  How to use iPhone Live Text OCR in iOS 15 Review

Live Text even works with stylized fonts (though it confused Disney’s italic “y” for a “p” in the example above.

In the Photos app

  • Live Text works for photos and screenshots you have already taken
  • Open the Apple Photos app in iOS 15 and look for the same Live Text icon (three-line viewfinder square)
  • Touch the icon to recognize all available text in an image
  • Or you can also just swipe or tap to select / copy / paste / etc your text yourself without first tapping the live text icon

Live text and handwriting

During the WWDC keynote, Apple showed live text that recognized handwriting. We also tested it and – at least for now in beta – it works, but the accuracy may depend on the handwriting being a little more readable than mine.

Here’s how Live Text works with my cluttered print and a bit cursive:

  How to use iPhone Live Text in iOS 15 handwriting

From personal to work and more, there are many utility cases for iPhone Live Text OCR. What are you excited about using the new feature for? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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