App review: Cardmunch

Got piles of business cards? Need a better way to keep them organised? Look no more.

The humble business card is still the best way to quickly and conveniently share your contact information in a networking situation. Even in this digital age, it's generally easier (and more socially acceptable) to hand over a card at an event, than it is to fiddle with typing in emails and phone numbers into your smartphone.

The problem with business cards is over time they accumulate into an unwieldily mess. I have a pile of over 60 different business cards on my desk, and the number is growing every day. Maintaining a filing system for all of them is a pain, and I don't have a personal assistant who I could pass that kind of work onto.

This is where an app like Cardmunch comes in.

Cardmunch is free from Apple App Store, and developed by the team at LinkedIn. It acts like a personal assistant, by organising and digitising your business cards, and then syncing it with your iPhone contact list.

Through the app you take a high resolution picture of any business card, which is then uploaded for processing. Other similar apps use optical character recognition software (OCR) to translate the business card into text, this can have varying levels of accuracy depending on the software.

Cardmunch provides a very high level of accuracy by crowd sourcing the image, and getting real people to do the translation work. These 'translators' have to sign non-disclosure agreements to work at Cardmunch, but it goes without saying that if you're not comfortable with other people knowing who you're networking with, don't use this app.

All together it takes around 20 seconds for each card to be taken and uploaded, and anywhere between one minute and thirty for the digital versions to come back. You can then search for these contacts using a person's name, company, or other details that were on their business cards.

If your contact has a LinkedIn profile, Cardmunch will pull their employment history and summaries and add that extra information to their digital business cards. You can also can also connect with them over the social network directly from within the app.

Don't worry about losing your contacts if you lose your phone, Cardmunch keeps a backup which you can recover using your LinkedIn profile.

Currently Cardmunch is only available on iPhone, although an Android and BlackBerry version is being worked on. There are similar alternatives on the Android Market, but Cardmunch is the only one I've found which doesn't charge for the service.

4 Stars. $Free.

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