Microsoft Excel For iOS And Android Devices Have ‘Insert Data From Picture’ That Turns Images Into Editable Table Data

A revolutionary feature that first debuted in Microsoft Excel for Android OS, has now trickled to Apple iOS as well. The feature, called ‘Insert Data from Picture’ may sound simple, but it is one of the best implementations of Machine Learning, Image Processing, and Artificial Intelligence. The feature essentially draws out actual editable data from images and turns the same into tables that are added to the Excel Spreadsheets.

Earlier this year, Microsoft quietly added a rather simplistic-sounding feature in its spreadsheet software, the MS Excel. The ‘Insert Data from Picture’ has now made its way to iOS devices as well. “Insert Data from Picture” essentially allows users to take pictures on their phones of table data, and automatically turn it into an Excel spreadsheet. Microsoft had debuted this feature at its Ignite conference last September. Starting today, the feature is available in Microsoft Excel for iOS and Android. Interestingly, users do not need an Office 365 subscription to use it.

The feature is quite important for people who regularly come across infographics and tabulated data. While the data can be interpreted visually, it cannot be actually used for analysis. The ‘Insert Data from Picture’ helps in getting the visually displayed data into an editable one.

Users have to simply open MS Excel app on their smartphone or tablet and select Insert Data from Picture button. The app opens up the camera and shows a red border. Users have to align the data within the red border, and then click Capture. MS Excel takes a snapshot, processes the image, and converts the data into a table. Users do get a chance to correct any issues the feature has discovered during the data conversion process. Users can choose to ignore the recommendations, edit to correct them. Once satisfied, users have to simply click insert, and the data appears in the Excel spreadsheet in an editable format.

To allow the ‘Insert Data from Picture’ feature get a better idea of the data it is presented with, Microsoft has added several important elements. Moreover, the company confirmed last year that it was adding new data types to Excel, starting with geography and stocks. While the new geography data would support states, countries, zip codes and cities, stock market data would obviously include ticker symbols, fund names, and company names.

The new data would be dynamic and would retrieve the latest prices of the stocks. Needless to add, Microsoft is attempting to incorporate several types of ‘Smart Data’ into Excel. Such data would go above and beyond identifying the true nature of the words and summon core associated content from the internet.

Alap Naik Desai
A B.Tech Plastics (UDCT) and a Windows enthusiast. Optimizing the OS, exploring software, searching and deploying solutions to strange and weird issues is Alap's main interest.