The tool allows the phone to work something like a photocopier, capturing the content of any document so that it can be shared, edited, printed or just saved away.
On the show, Piers Morgan noted that the tip has spread across the internet recently, and shared it with fellow presenters – though all of them said they had used the tool before.
The feature actually arrived in 2017, when Apple introduced it with the release of iOS 11. But as with many features of the iPhone, it can be missed if you are not aware of it already.
The feature is simple enough to access. It can be opened by heading to the Notes app, pressing on the small camera icon, and choosing the “Scan Documents” option.
The app will then guide you through the various stages of scanning in any particular document. It will ask you to point the camera at any given page, press the camera button as usual, and then have the document stored on the phone.
There are also additional options, such as the ability to scan the document in black and white and to choose where the document ends so that it is properly sized and cropped.
The scan will then appear on the phone looking remarkably like it has been taken by a professional photocopier or scanner. The phone will offset any tilt so that it looks like the image was taken straight-on, for instance, and will clear up any noise in the image so that text should be legible.
When all that is done, the document will work like any other picture on the phone, so that it can either be quickly transferred into another app, sent on to somebody else or just stored in the phone’s library.
The feature could prove useful to anyone who is struggling without the normal access to office equipment through lockdowns, as well as to anyone else who just needs to get certain real documents onto the phone.
In a more recent update – MacOS Mojave, which arrived in 2019 – Apple added a similar but potentially even more useful feature to its computers. Known as “Continuity Camera”, you can right click in a variety of apps such as Mail or Messages and choose the option to “important from iPhone or iPad”, which allows the camera to work not only as a scanner but to have the image immediately appear on a device.
Choosing the option allows users either to “take photo” or “scan documents” and pressing it should immediately open up the camera on the Mac, ready for the image to be taken. So long as all the technical requirements are followed – both the Mac and the iPhone need to have WiFi and Bluetooth on, be signed into the same account and fully updated – any image taken on the phone should then immediately appear on the computer.