CardMunch goes Dodo - and the replacements aren't

CardMunch was a neat idea - use your gadget’s onboard camera to scan capture the contents of a business card and upload it to a free service where it would then be translated into contact information. With the built-in LinkedIn integration it would then associate the contact with their LinkedIn account, if they had one, allowing you to send a contact request at the push of a button - after all, if they gave you their card, you should be able to make instant contact on LinkedIn.

For me the service worked great. I didn’t mind the often long delay from when I submitted the card to when I got back information - I know my 4th-gen iPod Touch’s pathetic camera made their life a bear. It was no skin off my back that they used the camera 90 degrees out from its optimal, resulting in images that were even lower res - they were the ones manually trying to read the information. Of course, I did my best to make the picture as high-contrast and clear as possible; no need to be a jerk.

Now it is gone. Well, ok, at the time of this writing it is only leaving, but you get my point! The replacements? LinkedIn wants us to use Evernote - which will start out free, but then develop a fee. A competitor has shown up in FullContact’s Card Reader - also a free to fee service. I’m sorry, but I’m not going to pay a monthly, or even a yearly, fine for something I use maybe once every two months. Even at the height of my game playing I wouldn’t even play online games that I had to pay a recurring fine for!

But moving beyond the fines, which is technically a sound business model, just not one of my favs for a rarely-used tool, the switch to Evernote grates on my nerves for another, completely tangential, reason: Evernote engaged in a tactic I consider abuse of a developer’s privileges several years ago. At that time I dropped my use of Evernote, even going so far as to copy-and-paste all my information into a now-moved-on competitor, Catch. The crime? Taking away a feature that was operating well enough just to help promote other tools they offer. The feature in this case was offline access to the notes. I’m not always online, and the times I most often need to access my notes are when I’m no-where near Wifi. Remember: iPod Touch - no cell network. To me this was just as bad, though more impactful to me, as when Microsoft took away from existing Office installations the ability to read archaic Office document formats. I’ve no problem if they’d released a new edition that couldn’t read the old, but they took it away from existing installations via an update. Updates are to fix problems or to introduce minor new features - not to strip out functionality! In Evernote’s case, they stripped out what was to me a core feature.

Today I still use Catch for my mobile notes. I can do this because Catch decided to purposefully allow people to keep using their offline app - just no more bug fixes and no online sync. No problem for me: it’s one of the few apps that doesn’t crash if I look at it too strongly, and I never used to online sync anyway.

I’m not sure how LinkedIn could make me happy about this, but at least I only use the app rarely, and they are moving the contacts into my LinkedIn account. It’s just too bad there’s no free-to-use app that I can find that will allow me to snap a picture and choose to either upload for a service to scan, paid or not, but allow me to manually type in the info. Why the picture? It allows me to verify and remember more about the contact months and years down the road: my memory is visually and acoustically triggered.