Microsoft has unveiled a new update for its Windows 11 applications, integrating AI capabilities to enhance Optical Character Recognition (OCR) in both the Camera and Snipping Tool apps. This advancement will streamline the process for users, enabling them to effortlessly extract and copy text from images or screenshots.
Camera App's Enhanced Functionality
The Windows Camera app is set to undergo a significant transformation, allowing users to scan text directly through the camera lens. This feature is anticipated to be particularly beneficial for tablet users.
Moreover, the app will offer the option to redact any sensitive data before sharing the edited images. The OCR capabilities of the Windows Camera are driven by Microsoft's proprietary AI technology, which is speculated to have been influenced by their collaboration with OpenAI.
Snipping Tool's Text Actions Feature
The Snipping Tool has already rolled out its “Text Actions” feature, leveraging Windows 11's AI to identify text in captured screenshots. This allows users to select and directly copy text from images. To utilize the Snipping Tool's Text Actions, users simply need to click the “Text Actions” button in the toolbar.
Microsoft's system will then automatically highlight selectable text, which can be copied using the mouse. Additionally, the tool offers shortcuts like Ctrl + A and Ctrl + C for copying text from scanned images. Another noteworthy feature soon to be available in both the Snipping Tool and Camera app is the capability to conceal or redact sensitive details, such as email addresses or phone numbers, prior to sharing the edited screenshot.
Earlier this month, Microsoft brought many enhancements to other the Sipping Tool. One of the most notable changes is the introduction of the combined capture bar. This feature simplifies the process of switching between capturing screenshots and screen recordings without the need to open the application.
Users can utilize the Print Screen or Win + Shift + S keyboard shortcuts to access the capture bar for snipping. Additionally, a new shortcut, Win + Shift + R, has been introduced to directly open the capture bar for recording.
Comparison with Google's Offerings
The AI integration in Windows 11's Camera app bears resemblance to features found in Google Lens and the OCR functionality in Google's Pixel Camera app. Sources have commended the OCR feature in the Windows Camera, attributing its near-perfect performance to the power of AI. For instance, users can capture an image of an open book and flawlessly copy the text, even if it contains unusual formatting or intricate characters.