This review is part of the Smartphone Scanner Review series, where I compare the top-rated smartphone scanner apps for Android. Many of these apps also have Apple iPhone versions which may have slightly different operation or features.
Adobe Scan is the scanner app from Adobe, the inventor of the PDF format. It is free and integrates with Acrobat Reader on Android. With those credentials you’d expect a top-performing application, and some of the functions are very good. The app also reveals Adobe’s desire to lock you into their cloud platform.
Full Review Notes
Advertisement and Limitations
Adobe Scan is free to use and doesn’t have any advertising. It does require you to log into the Adobe Document Cloud and also automatically uploads your documents to the Adobe Cloud. There is no option to turn this off and no way to use the app without logging in. More on this below.
Adobe Scan supports manual and auto capture modes. I found both modes excellent. Page detection and auto-cropping worked very well in many varied lighting conditions. It rarely ever required recropping in my tests. If needed, recropping was smooth and intuitive. The actual process of capturing the pages was simple and satisfying.
Adobe Scan supports four document modes: Original Photo, Auto Color, Grayscale and Whiteboard. I tested several B&W and color documents, and also experimented with my whiteboard. It generally selected the correct mode automatically, and it’s easy to change modes with a couple clicks. The Whiteboard mode is similar to Auto Color but with higher contrast and filtering. Capturing a whiteboard across the room worked well enough to be acceptable. While editing, you can do additional document rotation, shuffle the page order and recrop as needed. You end the editing session by tapping Save PDF in the upper right. Once you have ended the editing session, no further edits are possible and the document automatically uploads to the Adobe Document Cloud.
Adobe Scan gives you one file format option when saving, PDF. There are no alternate file formats, and no option on compression levels to reduce file size. It’s easy to use, no thinking required, but inflexible. Many of the other apps I’m testing allow multiple file formats and compression levels.
As I mentioned in the beginning, to use this app you must log into the Adobe Document Cloud, via Facebook, Google or with an Adobe ID. When you save, the document is automatically uploaded to Adobe Document Cloud. This is not configurable. You can select not to use cellular data for this task. However, when you reconnect to Wi-Fi it will automatically upload the document.
The default setting also performs text recognition (OCR) on your PDF after uploading to Adobe Cloud. This can be turned off in the Preferences Menu. Those who are privacy conscious or who scan sensitive documents should be aware that Adobe has your files and is reading them. We will have to trust them.
Here is their statement on security from https://helpx.adobe.com/document-cloud/faq.html
Is Adobe Document Cloud secure?
Yes. At Adobe, the security of your digital experiences is our priority. Industry standard security practices are deeply ingrained into our internal culture, software development, as well as service operations processes. Whether related to identity management, data confidentiality, or document integrity, Adobe Document employs industry-standard security practices to protect your documents, data, and personal information. For additional information about our security practices, the Adobe Secure Product Lifecycle, or Adobe Document Cloud solution security, please see www.adobe.com/security.
It’s easy to share your PDF via email, Bluetooth or any other app on your phone that normally appears in your share menu. It’s also simple to share a direct link to the Adobe Document Cloud. Those links can be pasted into email or any other app and look similar to https://files.acrobat.com/a/preview/bc467177-3d18-54d6-898f-7a0a78e7edf9
There appears to be no protection of these linked files on the Adobe Document Cloud. Anyone with that link can view or download the PDF, and I don’t see an easy way to remove or invalidate the link without deleting the entire file.
I don’t see any easy way to export the PDF directly to the Android filesystem. Using the “Open in Acrobat” button appears to simply launch Acrobat and hand off a link to the Document Cloud. Acrobat then pauses to download the document again, even though it already exists in the Adobe Scan app. This is pretty wasteful of data if you aren’t on an unlimited plan.
Adobe Scan is easy to use. It has the basic features needed to scan and share PDF files. It requires that you use the Adobe Cloud system. It doesn’t have any compelling features that make it a standout. It’s advertising-free and doesn’t nag you to upgrade. If you need a free and easy to use scanner app, if you don’t mind sharing your files with Adobe, it’s a reasonable choice.
I personally don’t like it enough to give up that much control. I’ve uninstalled it from my phone.