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Daily iPhone App: Postcard on the Run


I've traveled to over 30 countries since 2009, and today I wish I had brought Postcard on the Run with me. I've been using the app for the last few weeks and have become infinitely fond of it. Postcard on the Run lets you take a picture on your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad and turn it into a postcard that can be instantly snail-mailed to anyone in the world. I know, I know; that sounds suspiciously like an app by a certain company in Cupertino. But Postcard on the Run succeeds where Apple's Cards app consistently falls short. It's fun, it's uncomplicated, and it's even kinda kooky.

When you launch the app, you're asked to select a photo to use as your postcard image. You can choose to either take a new photo, use an existing photo from your camera roll, or choose any photo you've posted to Facebook. That Facebook integration alone makes the app more useful than its closest competitor. Once you've chosen a photograph, you can zoom in or out of it and position it as you please.

From there, write a short message of up to 200 characters, and choose your font and color. The next screen is particularly cool, as it lets you sign your name with your finger (or even draw little doodles on the card itself), which adds a level of personalization that you don't find in other apps.

What's really nice about the app is it offers you some unique tools and lets you apply some unique features to your postcards to make them more memorable. The most handy tool is called "Postal Gopher." If you choose a recipient from your address book whose address you don't have, the Postal Gopher feature will send a text or email to that individual requesting their address. When they reply, their address will instantly be added to your saved postcard order, which will then be automatically processed and sent.

Another nice feature is the ability to add a GPS photo map right onto the back of the postcard, particularly handy if you take pictures of lots of things you see when out and about. For instance, I can snap a picture of a cool, old bookstore in Germany to use as the postcard and the recipient can see right where I took the photo.

But perhaps the most fun element is the ability to add smells to your postcard. Using the appropriately-named "Smell Mail" feature, users can choose to add one of eleven scratch and sniff scents to their postcards. It's an old throwback to the time when scratch and sniff was "high-tech." But that's really the point of Postcard on the Run: With the digital world moving so fast, receiving another quickly written email isn't that meaningful anymore. If you don't agree, just ask your mother (or mine). She'd much rather get a letter or postcard from me while I'm on my travels than an email. And even in this instant-everything, living-behind-a-touchscreen world, it's still really nice to have a physical memory that you can thumbtack onto your wall or hang on your 'fridge.

The quality of the postcards is also top notch, with the same glossy goodness that you'd expect from any you'd find in a souvenir shop. I've already sent several holiday greetings to friends around the country using them. Each postcard costs between US$0.99 and $1.69, including postage. It's only another 50 cents if you add a Smell Mail scent to it as well. Check out the gallery below, where you'll find more samples of the postcards plus also screenshots of the app.

Finally, those of you with keen eyes might notice that some of the postcards in the gallery are addressed to singer and actress Selena Gomez. That's because she's involved with the creative direction of the app, and those are some duplicates of postcards she liked that were sent to her from fans, which she was kind enough to share with me. If you're among the millions of her fans be sure to check back Friday for my exclusive interview with Selena about her involvement with the app, and keep an eye out for a sweet promotion and giveaway from Selena, Postcard on the Run, and TUAW in the very near future.

Postcard on the Run is a free download and the perfect app for sending a little holiday love.

Gallery: Postcard on the Run | 17 Photos

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