New ‘Live Text’ Feature in iOS 15 | What Is Live Text and How Do You Use It?

Live Text iOS 15 2 Credit: Apple
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iOS 15 is chock full of new features. Some, like Focus Mode, are game-changers, while others seem much less flashy. It’s these seemingly mundane additions that often turn out to be genuinely revolutionary. For iOS 15, Live Text OCR may become one of these overlooked but must-have features. What is it, and why should you care? Read on to find out. 

What Is Live Text OCR?

In iOS 15, Apple added optical character recognition (OCR) as an option in the Camera app and the Photos app.

Live Text OCR lets you work with text in an image without having to install a third-party app.

You can use it in real-time inside the Camera app or on existing images in the Photos app.

When activated, Live Text OCR lets you manipulate the text by selecting, copying, and sharing recognized characters.

You can even look up a word you don’t know or translate the text if it’s a foreign language!

How to Use Live Text in the Camera App

In iOS 15, the Camera app will have a new button in the bottom corner for the Live Text OCR feature.

The icon is a viewfinder square with three lines that represent text.

When using the camera, the app will automatically scan for text in an image.

When the camera detects text, there will be a yellow viewfinder that you can position around it.

If the Camera app fails to see the text, you may need to move closer to the item or improve the lighting.

Once you have framed the text within the yellow viewfinder, you can tap the Live Text OCR button to manipulate the text.

If the text contains a phone number, email, date, or similar information, iOS 15 will create a live link that you can select with a long-press.

Not only can you select, copy and share the text, you also can make a phone call, send a message, and more.

How to Use Live Text OCR in the Photos App

Live Text also works in the Photos app, helping you work with text in images you already have taken.

  1. Open the Photos app and scroll to find the image you want to scan.
  2. Tap on the Live Text icon to recognize the text in the photo.
  3. You also can simply tap on the text, and Photos will let you manipulate the text automatically.

Live Text and Handwriting

Live Text also works with handwriting, but it is not as accurate as printed text. Handwriting can vary widely, and the OCR algorithm is not as effective, especially with cursive. As iOS 15 rolls out and people begin using text recognition, this algorithm hopefully will improve.

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