Postcardly Postcards is a neat service that allows you to create a postcard using your own photos, then have it sent via snail mail to a recipient for a reasonable price. The process is almost perfect and I really like the idea, but some small tweaks would make the app even better.
Creating a postcard is dead simple. You start by snapping a photo or choosing one from your iPhone's photo library. Then, you can move and scale the photo to make it fit on the postcard the way you want (more on this later). When you're satisfied with the positioning, you can move on to the next screen to type out your message (with a maximum of 500 characters -- about 100 words) and add an address. Postcardly Postcards lets you either type in the address yourself or choose a person from your iPhone's contact list and autofill the info (if you have the address entered for that person).
When you're finished putting it together, you're almost ready to send your postcard. Postcardly Postcards requires that you enter your name and credit card information on your first postcard, with an introductory price of $1.99 for five postcards. So what you're getting for your $1.99 (initially) are five physical postcards you can send to your recipients, along with personalized photos and messages. When you use up your first five postcards, you can either sign up for a subscription ($4.99/month for five cards a month, $9.99/month for 15 cards a month) or just pay a one-time $19.99 for 20 postcards. While it may seem a little pricey, I think the convenience of sending postcards from my iPhone is really cool, and the gesture to friends or family members when they receive them in the mail is worth the money.
I did a test run and sent a postcard to myself a few days before this writing. The final product was a 6-inch by 4.25-inch postcard, with my high-res photo printed right to the edges on one side ("full bleed") and the message and address typed out on the other. The photo paper itself seems of high quality, and has about the same weight and feel of a traditional postcard.
A neat bonus with the app is that every time you send a postcard to a new recipient, Postcardly creates an @postcardly.com address for them (like email@example.com), linked to the person's physical mailing address; the next time you want to send that person a postcard, you don't even need the app to do it, you can send from your e-mail on your computer. You just attach a picture to an e-mail, write your message in the body, and hit send -- and the postcard is automatically deducted from your total.
I did find one thing confusing with the app during the move and scale phase of the process. Once you have chosen your photo, the move and scale screen shows your image sideways if it's a landscape (not portrait) photo, using the screen as your cropping tool. While it's an elegant solution for cropping, it made me question whether my photo was going to show up sideways. Perhaps a better solution would be to have a fixed landscape sized rectangle on the screen as a guide when holding the phone in portrait orientation. This way you could move and scale your image, then move on to the next screen to fill in the message and address, while the image is always right-side up. It's not a big deal, but I think people will find it confusing on the first few attempts.
Even with this minor interface issue, Postcardly Postcards is a great idea that gives people the option to send a snail mail postcard without the need for finding a postcard, buying stamps, or walking to the mailbox. The pricing seems worth it to me for the convenience, and receiving something personal in the mail is a rarity these days, making Postcardly Postcards a treat for all the people you send them to.