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This app organizes iPhone screenshots and makes them useful

On mobile devices, screenshots end up in the camera roll alongside your other photos, even though a screenshot is a completely different type of image than a photograph. Screenshots are something you saw on your screen that you want to keep, whether it’s an ill-advised Facebook message you think is going to get deleted later, or your high score on Flappy Bird.

A new app from San Francisco and Bejing-based Landscape Mobile, simply called Screenshots, wants to be the go-to spot for collecting and sharing screenshots on your iPhone. It’s not the first screenshot manager, but the app hopes to go beyond simply organizing screenshots. With promised features like finding links embedded in screenshots, Screenshots wants to actually use the information contained in a screenshot to make users’ lives easier.

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“A screenshot is like a photo of your digital life,” Founder Yue Zhuge said. “Screenshots are not a regular image. People don’t care about the visual aspect of a screenshots, they care about the information.”

The Screenshots app automatically takes all the screenshots from your camera roll and organizes them by the app they depict — so screenshots of Facebook are all in a single menu, for instance. Not only does that make it easier to delete or share, say, several Instagram screenshots at once, but it’s also an interesting organized look at the content you once thought was worth keeping. It can’t identify all apps, though, and sticks anything it doesn’t recognize in an “other” folder. Unfortunately, that category includes most games. The app also doesn’t require an update or sync. Screenshots should show up in the app as soon as you take them.

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One handy feature is that Screenshots can strip the user interface from around an image in a screenshot, which is an easy way to “re-gram” Instagram photos other people posted. The developers offered an example in which a user can grab an image and link from Facebook and post it to Pinterest using Screenshots.

“We’re seeing if images can be used as a bridge between apps on mobile,” Zhuge said.

Screenshots can extract English text using an OCR process after uploading the screenshot to the cloud.The app also can extract the link from certain screenshots, so if you have a grab of a friend’s Facebook post, the app should be able to pull the link out of the image. It’s a trick that the same developers have used before in an app called Sight — which went a little farther, and acted a bit like a screenshot-based Instapaper by pulling full articles from text found in screenshots.

It sounds useful, especially considering the rise of the “screenshort” as a way to share a passage of text on social media. Unfortunately, Screenshots doesn’t work flawlessly yet. When analyzing screenshots, I found the app was reading the top bar of my iPhone screen included in the screenshots, so transcriptions invariably started with “AT&T LTE” and the time. I also had trouble getting Screenshots to recognize the links my friends posted on Facebook.

It’s too bad because I think Landscape Mobile could be on to something by pulling out interesting data from a screenshot. Some days my camera roll is positively filled with screengrabs, usually text. Screenshots is currently a great way to save, organize, and share them, but doesn’t yet fulfill its promise to extract the rich information inside.

Screenshots is a free download for iOS.

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