3D Scanning Apps for Android & iOS

What is a 3D Scanner Smartphone App?

With a 3D scanner app, any object – for example the souvenir of the last vacation trip or the favorite action figure – can be transformed into a digital 3D model. What used to be possible only with the use of high-priced accessories, lasers, complex optics, etc., is now possible with a current, commercially available smartphone. All that is needed for the 3D scanner for the smartphone is an app. And some time, because even the best app doesn’t work completely without familiarization! The apps are available for both Android and iPhones. And some of them are even free of charge.

What are the limitations of the current 3D scanner apps?

As already mentioned, all 3D scanner apps require more or less intensive training periods. Both handling the software and understanding how it works must be learned. For people who just want to make a quick scan “just in case”, this learning phase can be quite frustrating. Furthermore, the apps require post-processing of the acquired data on the computer. Here, too, the appropriate basic knowledge should be available in order to get the maximum possible quality out of the 3D scans. Last but not least, the technology of today’s smartphones limits the scanning result – apart from the most modern high-end devices, the necessary power and corresponding camera technology are still lacking. However, the limitations do not mean that the scanners are not fun to use or produce poor results. On the contrary, the scans can look amazingly high quality in the right hands!

How do 3D scan apps work?

Most of the available 3D scanners for smartphones work on the principle of photogrammetry. In this process, the object to be scanned is recorded from various angles until a 360° view of the object is obtained. The app then processes the photos into a 3D model – or forwards the data to the cloud for further processing. The advantage of photogrammetry over other 3D scanning methods: No expensive additional components or sophisticated setups are required.

The most interesting 3D scanners Android and iOS

In addition to the hardware-related division of apps for Android and Apple smartphones, a distinction is also made between free apps, apps that require a fee, and apps that require additional hardware. The 3D scanner apps listed below are currently the most interesting options in the field of mobile 3D scanning:

Apps that work without additional hardware

App name: Qlone


Qlone is an app that requires a paper mat with black and white print to use. The mat looks similar to a QR code and serves Qlone as a marker that can be used to determine the position of the object to be scanned in the room. The marker can be downloaded and printed free of charge. The usability of Qlone is extremely user-friendly: By means of an integrated guidance system, the user is shown which angle of view to take for the next image. This significantly minimizes errors due to image distortion. The 3D model is created locally in the app – almost in real time! The results can be shared on social networks or WhatsApp at the touch of a button. The download and use of Qlone is free of charge. Only in case the 3D data is to be exported to Sketchfab or Shapeways, there is a fee of $0.99 per 3D scan.
Data:
– Operating system: iOS and Android
– Price: free of charge
– Hardware: no additional hardware needed

App name: Trnio


In terms of usability, the Trnio scanning software, which is only available for iOS, is unbeatable. The user simply moves the smartphone around the object to be scanned, with the app adding a blue AR dot to each image captured. If there are enough images, a tap on the screen is enough and Trnio immediately starts to create a 3D object from the images. Since the app also picks up objects that are around the target, some minor “cleanup” is required afterwards. The created scans can be shared on the platform’s own social network or exported directly to Sketchfab
Data:
– Operating system: iOS
– Price: 2,99 €
– Hardware: no additional hardware needed

App name: Scann3D


Scann3D, an app for Android, is aimed at beginners, and its operation is correspondingly convenient and intuitive. Tracking points are clearly displayed at all times, and it is also possible to import images into Scann3D or export them to Sketchfab. However, the export only works if a subscription is taken out, which incurs follow-up costs. For beginners, the “Guided Scanning” is certainly helpful, an integrated function that ensures that the images succeed. Patience is needed, however, when it comes to rendering the 3D model. Here, Scann3D takes longer than other apps, and crashes occur in some places.
Data:
– Operating system: Android
– Price: Free of charge. But for the export of the data a subscription is needed
– Hardware: no additional hardware needed

Apps that require additional hardware

App name: TechMed3D – 3D SizeMe


3D SizeMe is a 3D body scanner developed by the Canadian company TechMed3D. The app, which is available free of charge, works by means of a Structure Sensor that has to be purchased additionally and is aimed at professionals, mainly from the medical field. 3D SizeMe enables high-precision scanning of the human body and can be customized by developers to meet specific customer needs.
Data:
– Operating system: iOS
– Price: Free of charge.
– Hardware: Structure Sensor required(Amazon*)

iPad 3D scanner apps with additional hardware

App name: Canvas


Canvas is a free 3D scanning app aimed at professionals in design, architecture or real estate marketing. Canvas runs exclusively on iPads, is extremely user-friendly, and creates 3D objects in real time. An interesting feature is the automatic creation of precise dimensions. The created 3D objects can be saved on the iPad or sent via mail. The app also includes its own CAD service, but it’s quite pricey at $29.95 per scan.
Data:
– Operating system: iOS, only for iPad
– Price: Free of charge.
– Hardware: Structure Sensor required(Amazon*)

App name: itSeez3D


Itseez3D is another iPad-exclusive 3D scanner. The app provides high-quality scans, with 3D objects calculated in the cloud. A highlight of itSeez3D is the ability to scan people in 3D – this is where most other software fits. An additional Structure Sensor is required for operation. itSeez3D is available free of charge, but in the free version each export costs a hefty $7. However, two paid versions are offered that allow a limited number of free exports or, in the “Scale Up” professional version, up to 1200 exports per year. However, this luxury costs $250 per month and is therefore aimed at professional users.
Data:
– Operating system: iOS, only for iPad
– Price: Free of charge.
– Hardware: Structure Sensor required(Amazon*)

iPhone X 3D Scan Apps

Name of the app: Heges


Heges is a 3D scanner that works exclusively with the TrueDepth camera of the iPhone X series (X, XS, XR). The app offers an optional scanner package for 2.99€, which can not only perform precision checks, but also allows exporting the 3D objects to PLY and STL files. Heges can capture colors during scanning and works in night mode even in complete darkness. Infinite Scanning” also allows an infinitely large area to be scanned – the only limit is the storage space on the iPhone.
Data:
– Operating system: iOS
– Price: Free of charge
– Hardware: no additional hardware needed

App name: Capture

[Bild / Logo] Info for me
The Capture app, another iPhone 3D scanner, allows 3D scans to be created and saved or downloaded in a variety of file formats. The scans can also be easily shared with friends via iMessage or WhatsApp. Capture only works with X-series iPhones, as the TrueDepth camera is required for operation. Scanning is child’s play and works similarly to capturing panoramic images. During the scan, the app creates a “point cloud” that is used to measure the depth of the object being scanned. The info is then processed into a 3D object. Unfortunately, the app has one drawback: Scanning only works via the front camera. Therefore, the iPhone has to be held in a rather awkward position when scanning.
Data:
– Operating system: iOS
– Price: Free of charge
– Hardware: no additional hardware needed

Digression: 3D Photo Apps

Who actually says that 3D scanners can only be used for creating 3D files? Since April 2019, 3D photos can also be published on Facebook – at least for Android smartphone owners, because iPhone users have been familiar with this feature for a little longer. Given the right smartphone, portrait photos on Facebook can be enhanced with artificially generated 3D depth information. Currently, the feature can only be used if the photo is taken in portrait mode – and the Facebook page “Facebook 360” is liked. The result is quite chic to look at, but the technology can’t make anything visible in the background that wasn’t already there on the 2D image before. If you want to look behind an object in the 3D photo, Facebook only shows a color veil.

Conclusion

3D scanner smartphone apps are a proven way to get familiar with the basics of 3D scanning. Even if the apps can already do quite a lot – they cannot (yet) compete with mature professional systems. The scan results are okay and sufficient for many situations – but users should not expect perfect scans and optimal 3D models yet. Nevertheless, the current 3D scanners for smartphones are much more than mere gimmicks and it is to be expected that there will be a lot more happening on the market in the very near future.