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Excel on Android will let you take a picture of a table, turn it into a spreadsheet

Don't feel like manually reproducing that printed table? The Excel app for Android will soon let you use your camera instead.

Published onSeptember 25, 2018

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  • Microsoft has announced a new Insert Data From Picture feature in Excel for Android.
  • The feature lets you take a photo of a table to turn it into a spreadsheet.
  • Microsoft has also announced an AI-powered Ideas feature for Excel and PowerPoint.

Excel isn’t the most exciting app out there, but Microsoft is working on at least one genuinely cool feature. The company used its Ignite conference to announce that Excel users on Android can soon take a photo of a table and turn it into a spreadsheet.

The Insert Data From Picture feature means you don’t have to manually reproduce a spreadsheet or enter values from it. Instead, you point your phone at a printed or hand-drawn table to bring it to life in the Excel app. Microsoft adds that a table captured from a picture can be fully edited, in case you need to update it, fix an error, or use it as a template. 

The feature will “soon” be available to Office 365 Insiders with the Excel app on Android, according to Microsoft.

Microsoft’s foray into smart recognition 

It’s not the first time the Redmond company has dabbled in this particular field either, previously launching the Office Lens app for Windows Phone back in 2014. This app has since appeared on Android and iOS devices.

Microsoft’s Your Phone app is now available... for some users
Windows Your Phone

Office Lens is essentially a smart scanner, allowing you to quickly scan and format whiteboards, receipts and more. But it also uses optical character recognition to deliver smart functionality, such as capturing business card details and converting physical documents into Word files.

Microsoft has also announced another interesting feature at Ignite this week, called Ideas. This feature is an “AI-powered insights service,” helping users identify trends and patterns in a data-set, for example. The company says it’ll be available in Excel soon, and will also make its way to PowerPoint Online.

What would you like to see from Microsoft on Android? Give us your thoughts in the comments! You can also download the Excel app via the button below, but the Insert Data From Picture feature isn’t available just yet.

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