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Microsoft starts rolling out ability to turn photos of table data into Excel spreadsheets

Microsoft's 'Insert Data from Picture' feature is coming first to Android phones; iOS users will get the new feature 'soon.'
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor on

Microsoft has started making available its "Insert Data from Picture" feature that allows users to take pictures on their phones of table data and automatically turn it into an Excel spreadsheet. Microsoft announced this feature at its Ignite conference last September. 

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The feature is coming first to Android phones. The Android Excel app will automatically convert pictures of printed data tables into fully editable table data in Excel. Microsoft officials said the magic happens via new image-recognition functionality. Microsoft officials said last week that iOS support for this feature will be "coming soon."

Microsoft announced last year that it would be adding new data types to Excel, starting with geography and stocks. The new geography data type supports states, countries, zip codes and cities. Stocks includes ticker symbols, fund names, company names and can fetch up-to-date prices.Microsoft's strategy is to add more smart data types to Excel over time. 


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The Microsoft Knowledge Graph already powers Bing and Excel data types. It's this cloud-connected/Knowledge Graph connection that is behind Microsoft describing these new datatypes as AI-infused

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