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Everything old is new again; frog design does an iPhone app


Early in Apple history, long before Jonathan Ive came along and performed his design miracles, there was frog design. Under the helm of Hartmut Esslinger, frog design was responsible for some of the more memorable early Apple designs, including the iconic Apple IIc and the Imagewriter II printer. More importantly, Esslinger defined the Snow White design language that was used by Apple between 1984 and 1990 to define how Apple products of that era would look.

History is repeating itself now, with frog design recently releasing a new iPhone app, Postcard Express [App Store]. The $3.99 app definitely doesn't break new ground in terms of functionality -- it creates and sends digital postcards from your iPhone photos.

As with Postman, SodaSnap Postcards, and other apps of this type, Postcard Express lets you either take a new picture or use an existing gallery photo to send an electronic postcard to your friends via email. Unfortunately, frog design's savvy doesn't appear to extend to iPhone apps, as Postcard Express is not only more expensive than any of the other apps, but version 1.0 has some serious shortcomings.


Rather than creating a full-sized front side of a postcard, Postcard Express gives you half of an iPhone screen for your picture and the other half for your message. That layout tends to both squeeze your photo into a very small space and deprive you of being able to write much on the cards. The app runs in landscape mode, but awkwardly switches to a portrait orientation for writing the message. The much-touted ability to geotag photos (the location allegedly shows up in the "stamp" on the postcard) never worked for me. Unlike some of the other apps, it doesn't send a real postcard. Finally, even the app's icon changed to that of an app that I had removed from my iPhone last week!

Fortunately, the Postcard Express team is listening to feedback. After leaving them a hate-o-gram this morning, they responded quickly. Most of the issues were due to limitations of the iPhone 2.2.1 OS and SDK. The next version is designed for OS 3.0 only and will provide full-size postcards and data entry in landscape mode, and geotagging from gallery photos will work. The icon issue seems to be a bug, and I'm sending them a screenshot for troubleshooting purposes.

Having spent $4 on this app, I'm glad that frog design is listening to user feedback and that the next version should fix all of the problems. Several screenshots of the app occupy the gallery below.

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