How iPhone Postcard Apps Work

Now, you can use your smartphone to send postcards to the people you love.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Remember when an essential part of traveling was sending snail-mail postcards to family and friends? Over time, it became easier and easier to snap pictures with your cell phone, send them by text message and post them on Facebook. The next thing you know, people just weren't sending many postcards anymore.

But a funny thing has been happening in the last couple of years. Maybe the novelty of sending snapshots by cell phone has worn off, but now there are a number of apps that allow iPhone users to edit, enhance and filter the photos you take with your phone. And just as those apps have grown in popularity, so have apps that allow you to do more than show off an impressive photo on your social networks. These apps enable you to incorporate your photos into postcards with personal messages -- virtual or physical -- to send to those you love.

Increasingly, people are choosing to go a little retro, something more like those old-school postcards that you once used to share your travels with the folks back home. And since you can use your own photos, you're not limited to sending pictures of subjects that someone else deemed worthy of a postcard. The best part? You don't even have to leave home to send one!

How popular are these apps? Photogram, one of the first, reached 100,000 iPhone downloads in the first week after its June 2011 release [source: Van Grove]. Keep reading to learn about the two main types of postcard apps available for the iPhone.