First look: Apple's Cards offers quality & convenience at a low price

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
One completely unexpected announcement made by Apple at this month's iPhone 4S media event was Cards, a new application that lets iPhone users quickly and easily order a custom-printed greeting card.



Apple's Cards business is not entirely new, as the company has been in the printing business for some time with iPhoto. With iPhoto Print Products, customers have been able to create and order their own photo books, letterpress cards, calendars and prints.



Last October, when Apple unveiled iLife '11, it introduced letterpress cards that could be ordered through iPhoto '11. Using what Apple has called a "centuries-old printing method," letterpress cards were originally available through iPhoto, and have now come to the iPhone and iPod touch.



The letterpress design chosen by a user is physically pressed to "ultra-premium paper," and users' digital photos and text are then printed on the card. The paper used by Apple for iPhoto and Cards is textured and of high quality, while the letterpress designs leave an indentation on the paper that can be felt with your fingertips.



But what Cards adds to the process is the ability to quickly create a card on the go on your iPhone or iPod touch. Forgot about Mom's birthday? Save yourself a trip to Hallmark by building and mailing your own custom card with Cards.



Cards is a free application available on the App Store, and it works as promised. I tried building a card with the software while on the go, over a 3G connection on an iPhone 4. The process is simple and easy -- and at a cost of just $2.99 with shipping in the U.S. ($4.99 to anywhere in the world), the price is right, too.



Users start creating a card by choosing from 21 different layouts offered by Apple. The iPhone software only operates in landscape mode, and users are able to choose between a variety of designs that range from mostly text to almost all photo.



From there, the outside of the card can be designed. Depending on the layout a user chooses, they can add custom text, choose a photo from their iPhone's Camera Roll, or take a photo immediately with the iPhone camera.







It's the same process for the inside of the card, where custom text can be entered to personalize the letter as needed. For the envelope, users enter a custom return address, and place the name and address of the recipient.



The recipient's name and address can also be chosen from the list of contacts stored on an iPhone or iPod touch. One thing that can't be changed, however, is the stamp: it's a yellow first-class postage stamp with an image of a letter folded into a heart-shaped paper airplane.







Ordering the card is a snap, accomplished like all other App Store transactions by using your Apple ID and its stored credit card information. After entering your password, the order is placed.



Apple keeps you up to date on the progress of your card, issuing a confirmation for the purchase and another for when the card has been mailed. Using the U.S. Postal Service's Intelligent Mail barcode system, the Cards application will also send a push notification to an iPhone or iPod touch the day a letter is scheduled to arrive.



And it arrives fast. My card was delivered by the USPS just three business days after the order was placed.



When it arrives, the card appears just as advertised, including the font type used for the card and even the mailing envelope. The outer envelope features high-quality textured paper, and makes no mention of the fact that the card was purchased through Apple.







Inside the envelope, once again the card is just as it was shown on the iPhone, with thick paper decorated with Apple's letterpress design and good printing quality on the digital photo selected. Text that is printed on the card is not indented like the available letterpress designs.



Also like the envelope, the card makes no mention of the fact that it was purchased from Apple, so your recipient won't know that your gesture of goodwill may have actually been a last-minute act of desperation. The back of the letterpress card is completely blank.



The Cards application for iPhone and iPod touch is obviously not going to become a major part of Apple's business, and it's unclear just how popular this new offering will prove to be. But at an affordable price with high-quality paper, classy designs, fast turnaround, and total convenience, it's hard not to recommend Apple's Cards to anyone who's interested.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 35
    They need to have this on the iPad and port it for Lion. I've sent a few and they look great.
  • Reply 2 of 35
    macrulezmacrulez Posts: 2,455member
    deleted
  • Reply 3 of 35
    Is this manufactured in China?
  • Reply 4 of 35
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    I have made books with iPhoto and enjoyed the results, but I can't imagine ever using this app/service for sending a card.
  • Reply 5 of 35
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Proximityeffect View Post


    They need to have this on the iPad and port it for Lion. I've sent a few and they look great.



    I totally agree. Can't believe they haven't made an iPad version.
  • Reply 6 of 35
    gustavgustav Posts: 826member
    I'm hearing mutterings about it taking a long time to mail to Canada. When I order prints from iPhoto, it takes two to three times as long as they claim. They claim 2 - 9 business days, but I've waited more than three weeks on occasion. I fear this will take just as long as well.
  • Reply 7 of 35
    Ive already sent two. Its quick easy and for a wonderful price
  • Reply 8 of 35
    My first card arrived last Tuesday and the recipient said that the card was nice but the photo was grainy.

    Also the app does not allow you to shrink a photo to fit the card, you can expand the photo to crop it, but in the two cars that I've done already the photo is automatically cropped and there is no way to shrink it to fit the space.
  • Reply 9 of 35
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by anykine23 View Post


    Is this manufactured in China?



    Uh? no?
  • Reply 10 of 35
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    I have made books with iPhoto and enjoyed the results, but I can't imagine ever using this app/service for sending a card.



    Why not? When I'm traveling, I'll buy postcards to send my parents or family. This is a great way to send your own customized card (with geo-location) at the same cost of a regular post card. It will be mailed from the closest USPS office, which will still have the coding and stamps as if you bought the card locally. It's a lot better than picking out some crappy post card and scribbling my sloppy hand writing on the back. I was pleasantly pleased with the quality of these cards.
  • Reply 11 of 35
    desuserigndesuserign Posts: 1,316member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MacRulez View Post


    So much for Mr. Atkinson's great app:

    http://www.billatkinson.com/aboutPhotoCard.html



    I like "Corel Postcard" ("Simply Postcards," not so much) and both are only $0.99, depending on how your purchase.



    Simply Postcards, the quality wasn't so great (smaller card, smudged image, and poor image registration.)



    I'm sure Apple's Cards is good, but I have yet to try it.
  • Reply 12 of 35
    Sent two and the recipients said they looked great. Love this app, always slacking on the thank you cards because i forget to get them at the store. I'll probably spend a lot of money with this app since it lets me create the card right while i am thinking about it. Thanks Apple!
  • Reply 13 of 35
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by stickyd View Post


    Why not? When I'm traveling, I'll buy postcards to send my parents or family. This is a great way to send your own customized card (with geo-location) at the same cost of a regular post card. It will be mailed from the closest USPS office, which will still have the coding and stamps as if you bought the card locally. It's a lot better than picking out some crappy post card and scribbling my sloppy hand writing on the back. I was pleasantly pleased with the quality of these cards.



    I'm not one to send postcards as I typically will just send pictures via email, or sometimes format using the features in iPhoto, like making a Book, but then saving as a PDF that I'll email or upload to a family/friends folder in Dropbox.



    That said, your point is compelling. Though not for my current habits I can now see this would be a fun and useful tool for others.
  • Reply 14 of 35
    desuserigndesuserign Posts: 1,316member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    I have made books with iPhoto and enjoyed the results, but I can't imagine ever using this app/service for sending a card.



    Why not? It would be great for thankyous or just saying "Hi." I wouldn't use it if I was traveling though. A postcard from Paris should have French stamps and should come from France!
  • Reply 15 of 35
    Dying to know what the "for your divorce . . ." card with the cat on the front says on the inside.



    Perhaps: ". . . a little new pussy for you."
  • Reply 16 of 35
    cgjcgj Posts: 276member
    I was desperate to just use this App (lol), so I decided to send one for my Auntie. Took a quick picture of our dogs and attached it, then sent the card. Was dispatched this morning. It really is a good app.
  • Reply 17 of 35
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by anykine23 View Post


    Is this manufactured in China?



    If I recall correctly, Kodak Gallery (formerly Ofoto) handles order fulfillment of the printing products from iPhoto, so it is likely Kodak is doing the printing for the Cards iOS app as well.



    I'll probably never use this. The computer-generated print renders it pretty impersonal. People who deserve getting cards from me also deserve a handwritten message. I buy cards from iPhoto, Shutterfly though.
  • Reply 18 of 35
    grmacgrmac Posts: 67member
    Just used the app to fire off a birthday card for my Father. Very slick, although I didn't like the inability to type in a recipient's address (it insisted on the information being available in the contact itself).



    We'll see how fast it gets there. Not bad at all, and I can see myself using the app at least ten times a year
  • Reply 19 of 35
    cgjcgj Posts: 276member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by grmac View Post


    Just used the app to fire off a birthday card for my Father. Very slick, although I didn't like the inability to type in a recipient's address (it insisted on the information being available in the contact itself).



    We'll see how fast it gets there. Not bad at all, and I can see myself using the app at least ten times a year



    On the app, click on the centre address. Just press "Edit".
  • Reply 20 of 35
    It looks like it has some room for improvement. Not necessarily in a bad way, mind you. Photo sizing options would be a useful addition (unless we missed them) and the number of templates is ... lacking. Maybe if this picks up speed Apple will produce more templates.



    Our experience was that the mailing time was lengthy. We ordered late in the day (from Alaska, which means everything east of us doesn't exist by then). So, not counting the day that we ordered the card, it took 8 or 9 days before it arrived in St Louis. The card itself was well done, though.



    It does make it impersonal, since you can't sign it. Then again, maybe you could hand-write what you want to say and take a picture of the writing. Then your hand-written message becomes one of the photos.
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