Postcards from the EDGE network
Two new apps both provide the same service to iPhone users -- sending postcards to U.S. addresses from your iPhone. I'm not talking about virtual electronic postcards; instead, these are real postcards that are printed at a location near your recipient's address, then delivered by the U.S. Postal Service. All you need to provide is a photo taken by your iPhone, the address(es) of the recipient(s), a personalized message, and a credit card number.
The two programs are both free, although there is a cost to send those postcards. Continue reading this post to learn more about Go Postal and TapTap Cards.
The term "go postal" was coined to describe the actions of employees, not all of whom work for the U.S. Postal Service, who inflict deadly violence on their coworkers. So Go Postal isn't necessarily the best name for an iPhone app, especially one that is used to do something fun.
Go Postal (click opens iTunes) is the brainchild of PrintYourLife.com. While it sounds like it could be the name of a first-person shooter, Go Postal is actually a free app for sending picture postcards via the U.S. Postal Service to friends and family. As such, this app can only be used at the present time to send postcards to U.S. addresses.
I had a chance to try out Go Postal recently, and I wish that the app had been available while I was in Africa a few months ago. I could have used it to send postcards to my friends back in the States! All you need to do is load the free app from the App Store, take a photo with your iPhone camera or pull one from your camera roll, tap in a short personalized message and the address of the recipient(s), and then send the order off to PrintYourLife.com. A picture postcard is then sent to your friends within one day.
I enjoyed using Go Postal, and I felt that the quality of the postcards is top notch. The app seems to be getting lousy reviews in the App Store, mainly because it works only in the U.S., people feel that the US$1.29 cost per postcard is prohibitively high, and others find the uploads to take too long. In my opinion, that US$1.29 charge isn't bad. You won't have to hope that the postcard won't arrive weeks after you get back to the states (that's happened to me, even from European countries), and you don't have to worry about buying "just enough" foreign stamps. Best of all, it's a picture you've taken, not some generic cheesy view of the Eiffel Tower.
Just remember, too -- except for those free and incredibly tacky hotel / motel postcards, you're usually going to spend a buck or two for a postcard at some souvenir stand.
For the people complaining about the app not delivering cards to anyone outside of the U.S., just wait, folks. This is the first version of this app, and I would be willing to bet that the developers are hard at work trying to provide the same service for other countries. Finally, I only had to wait about two minutes on a crowded EDGE network at an NBA playoff game to have my picture uploaded. That's not "too long" to wait, unless you're incredibly impatient. Many Go Postal users will probably zap the postcards to their friends on 3G networks overseas or while connected to Wi-Fi networks at their hotels or an internet café.
So here I was, about to push the button to submit this post to our eagle-eyed editors at TUAW, when what do I find in my inbox but notification of another "free" postcard app!
This one, TapTap Cards, is more polished than Go Postal, but is also a wee bit more expensive at US$1.99 per card. The user interface is simple, with large red buttons pointing the way through the process of taking a photo, adding your text and addresses, then sending off the cards.
One feature that TapTap Cards has that Go Postal does not is being able to add a caption to the front (picture) side of the postcard. TapTap Cards also lets you pay through their website "after the fact" rather than sending your payment information through your iPhone. This last feature does delay the mailing of your postcard until you log onto the website and add billing information.
I was perplexed at why TapTap Cards was getting higher review scores in the App Store, since it took me three unsuccessful tries with EDGE and a fourth successful 3G attempt to send one postcard with the app. TapTap Cards also crashed twice while attempting to take a screenshot, something that doesn't make reviewers happy.
TapTap Cards also has the other main limitation that Go Postal does; it can only be used to send postcards to U.S. addresses.
What do you think, TUAW readers? Is US$1.29 or US$1.99 too much to purchase and send a personalized postcard of your own picture from any country in the world to the U.S? Let us know in the comments section below. Be sure to check out the gallery below for screenshots of Go Postal and TapTap Cards in action.
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