The cameras in today’s smartphones have improved enough to take very good pictures, but even the lowest resolution camera can be useful for capturing information. One way to use a smartphone is to take pictures of receipts and then store them in a database. Lemon is a combination of smartphone app and web service for capturing and storing receipts.
Versions of the Lemon app are available for the iPhone and Android smartphones. Before you use the app you need to sign up to the Lemon web site and you then need to associate the smartphone app with your account by entering a code that is generated on the phone.
The Lemon app is very straight forward to use, tap the Scan Receipts button to turn on the phone’s camera, align the receipt to the guide lines on the screen, and tap the camera button to take a picture of the receipt. The app then transmits the picture to the Lemon web site where it is automatically scanned.
If the automatic scan is successful the items on the receipt are identified and displayed, but if the automatic scan is not successful the receipt picture remains in a “processing” status and it is then manually processed. I tested the Lemon app by taking a picture of a Best Buy receipt that was not recognized. It took several hours for the receipt to be manually processed, but eventually it appeared in the Purchases section.
The app lists each item on the receipt, it’s amount, the merchant name and city, any sales tax, and the total amount. You can always view the picture of the receipt, which is stored on Lemon’s servers along with the data that is translated. While the Lemon app does have a reporting function, it is not every powerful and you will find the Lemon web site to be more capable for viewing reports.
Lemon is currently in beta and the service is currently free, as are the smartphone apps.