Microsoft’s cloud storage service now has the ability to extract text from images through a process known as optical character recognition (OCR). The Bing-powered technology is the first of several features designed to make SkyDrive photos smarter according to a blog post on the subject.

Redmond said the OCR tool will automatically run on your camera roll photos so you can instantly see the extracted text whenever you view a photo on SkyDrive. It’s said to work in English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish with most common image formats. Microsoft said it might take a day or two for the feature to roll out to all users so if you don’t see it yet, just give it a little more time.

The SkyDrive addition follows closely behind Google’s decision to bring OCR to Google Drive back in May and mirrors what other services like Evernote already offer. It also further bolsters SkyDrive, a service that still caters more toward office documents than media files as evident by its integration with Microsoft’s Office Web Apps.

If you’ve never used OCR technology, I can tell you that it’s useful for sure. I can recall multiple times when I took a photo of something with my smartphone simply to refer to the text later on. Even before smartphones and camera phones, OCR was an asset when used alongside traditional scanners.