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TUAW review and giveaway: Bill Atkinson PhotoCard for iPhone

When it comes to famous names in the Apple pantheon, Bill Atkinson ranks very high in the list. The brains behind MacPaint, HyperCard, the Mac OS menu bar, and a host of other innovative software applications has been a professional nature photographer since 1996, but now he's melded his development mojo with photography and released his very first iPhone app, Bill Atkinson PhotoCard for iPhone.

At first glance, the US$4.99 app looks like yet another postcard app for the iPhone. But when you actually start looking at the details of PhotoCard, you realize that it's much, much more. To start with, the app comes with 150 of Atkinson's fabulous nature photographs that can be used in the creation of postcards. That takes care of the front of the postcard, but what about the back?

Like many of the apps of this genre, PhotoCard has a space for typing in a message to the recipient. It ups the ante with 150 stamps to add to your card (more on these later). There are also 325 little stickers that can be added to the back of your card. Once the card is ready to send, you have your choice of either sending it to the recipient via email or having the card printed on an HP Indigo digital press and then sent through snail mail.

If the card is sent via email, it is sent in either 720 x 960 or 960 x 1280 pixel format, and can include a voice message of up to 60 seconds in length. Should you decide to send a physical card instead, the printing is done on a coated 8.25" x 5.5" card stock, and then mailed at a price of US$1.50 - $2.00 to United States addresses or to international addresses for $2.25 - $3.00.

Having tried several postcard apps over the last few years, I was prepared to be underwhelmed. What I discovered was the first postcard app I've actually found to be worth buying. Atkinson's photographs are spectacular, ranging from beautiful flower closeups to awe-inspiring wide-angle landscapes. Of course, you can use your own photography on the front of the card as well. That's useful if you want to send vacation postcards to your friends or family.

When writing your text on the back of the virtual postcard, there are 23 different typefaces to choose from, in a variety of styles and sizes. The stickers are useful in adding a fun personal touch to a card, and even the virtual stamps can provide a joyful highlight to your card. Believe it or not, the virtual stamps actually become valid postage stamps when you choose to send your message via snail mail.

The app provides a way to purchase mailing credits -- 10 credits, good for sending 5 postcards in the U.S., cost $9.00 -- and pay with either PayPal or credit cards. There's a bit of a discount for purchasing the credits in bulk, as 50 credits (25 postcards) can be purchased for only $40. That's a great idea if you're going on a vacation and don't want the hassles of purchasing local postage to send a cheap postcard to friends at home. Instead, you can pre-purchase the credits, take your own iPhone photos, and then send the cards, all from your iPhone. The full version of PhotoCard includes free postage for your first postcard, and of course emailing your cards will always be free.

You'll notice that I referred to "the full version of PhotoCard." That's because there's also a Lite version of the app available. Bill Atkinson PhotoCard Lite only has 5 nature photos, 10 stamps, and 10 stickers, and no free postcard is included.

Now comes the fun part! Bill thoughtfully provided TUAW with 5 Promo Codes for Bill Atkinson PhotoCard, and you know how we love to give things away! To enter, just leave a comment below stating a location where you'd like to send a postcard from. Here are the details of the giveaway:
  • Open to legal US residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia who are 18 and older.
  • To enter, leave a comment stating where you'd like to send a postcard from (e.g, "The FIFA World Cup Finals" or "Seattle").
  • The comment must be left before Sunday, February 21, 2010, 11:59PM Eastern Standard Time.
  • You may enter only once.
  • Five winners will be selected in a random drawing.
  • Prize: One promo code for a copy of Bill Atkinson PhotoCard (Value: US$4.99)
  • Click Here for complete Official Rules.
Be sure to check out the gallery below for pictures of this beautiful app being used.

When it comes to famous names in the Apple pantheon, Bill Atkinson ranks very high in the list. The brains behind MacPaint, HyperCard, the...