Many of us store images and PDFs in Dropbox that contain text. The company has announced that they will be automatically applying OCR to make them easier to find.
The new service, announced in a blog post, further differentiates their free offering from Dropbox Professional, Business Advanced, and Enterprise accounts. The feature will apply to all JPEG, static GIF, PNG, TIFF, or PDF and will be applied old files as well as ones you add from now on.
Dropbox Professional subscribers will begin seeing OCR on English text within images over the coming months while Dropbox Business Advanced and Enterprise admins can get early access for their teams now through the admin console.
I've long used the OCR features of Evernote Professional and rely on them as I scan almost every piece of paper and save all my PDF bills and statements into that cloud service. It makes finding receipts and other scanned documents easy. For Dropbox users, whose file-stores continue to grow, search is becoming the most important way to find things as filing systems become too unwieldy for everything to be stored in complex structures of nested folders.
I suspect we'll see integrations from scanner companies that take advantage of this. For example, the Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i scanner I've been using for the last few years sends scanned files directly to Evernote. I expect them to add a similar integration that takes advantage of this new Dropbox capability.
And it's a smart move as Dropbox needs to provide incentives for customers to move from their free services to paid ones as the company seeks to increase revenue.