When it comes to phone numbers in an email or on a web page, dialing that number is incredibly easy on the iPhone since iOS usually recognizes phone numbers and makes them actionable via simple tap. However, I admit that there are days when I wish saving and dialing numbers I see when I’m out and about was just as easy. Not that pausing to open the Phone app, manually entering the phone number and hitting the Call button is hard but if an app like Word Lens can translate text on the fly using the iPhone’s camera, why can’t I save and dial numbers in a similar fashion? Developer iRead Solutions apparently thought the same thing and created ReadAndCall for just this purpose.
ReadAndCall uses the iPhone’s camera to recognize and make phone numbers in the real world around you actionable. It quickly scans phone numbers you see on posters, billboards, business cards, computer screens or anywhere else and lets you dial them right away or save them to a Call List, where you can store numbers quickly for later reference. You can also use scanned numbers to create a new contact or add to an existing contact, or to address a new text message.
Here’s a demo video from iRead Solutions that shows how ReadAndCall works:
If you want to do more with a number later, the Call List function lets you save a snapshot of the item from which you just extracted a phone number. This is a handy feature if you want a picture to give you a little more context for later reference when you go to use that number.
There are plenty of business card scanners available in the App Store but ReadAndCall is a little more robust when it comes to strictly recognizing phone numbers and offering the ability to do something with them right away. Often, all I want to do is capture a number I see on a poster or advertisement and save it for later without creating a full contact entry and ReadAndCall fits the bill for that perfectly. My one gripe is that it only works in landscape orientation – I’d love to have an option to use it in portrait orientation since this is how I hold my iPhone most often.
At this time, ReadAndCall only recognizes 7- and 10-digit numbers in the North American phone number format, so you’re out of luck at the moment if you live elsewhere.
ReadAndCall debuted in the App Store in September and just received a major update earlier this month that improved its phone number detection. It requires iOS 4.0 or higher on an iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S.