How iPhone Postcard Apps Work

Send Postcards from Your iPhone

Several free apps allow you to send postcards from your iPhone. There are two basic types: those that send virtual postcards, and those that send real, physical postcards through the U.S. Postal Service. Let's look at how two of the popular ones work.

Photogram allows you to choose photos from your phone, then crop and zoom to get just what you want -- all from a single screen. You can use as many as four photos to make your postcard. You can select backgrounds and themes that come free with the app or buy others from the app's theme store for 99 cents -- or less per theme if you buy a "bundle." (Independent artists partnering with Photogram design the themes.) Just add a personal message, then send your postcard by e-mail -- and, if you want, post them to Facebook and Twitter.

Like Photogram, Postagram combines your photo with a personal message. The main difference between the two apps is that Postagram sends a real postcard, delivered by the U.S. Postal Service. This feature can be great for communicating with those who don't spend much time online. And even those who use texts, e-mails and social networking sites like real cards that they can display on the refrigerator or bulletin board. Recipients also can pop the die-cut photo out of the postcard for display in a frame.

Postagram is free, but you do have to pay to send your postcards through the mail. (There's no need to print -- all you need is your contact's snail-mail address.) The cost for delivery within the U.S. is 99 cents, payable by credit card. The card should arrive within about five days. Delivery outside the U.S. costs a bit more and takes longer.

Several similar iPhone apps allow you to send postcards quickly and easily. HazelMail, for example, is a free app for that lets you send real, personalized postcards to family and friends. To cover postage, you must go online to put "HazelBucks" into your "PiggyBank" account [source: HazelMail]. Postcard on the Run has extra features -- including a GPS locator -- that enable you to include a small map in the card's design that shows where you are when you take your photo. It also gives you the option of signing your card or drawing a picture with your finger – talk about personal touches! You can even add "Smell Mail" to make your postcard scratch-and-sniff. Payment is by major credit card, and you can set up an account so you don't have to enter the information over and over.

But wait! What if you've forgotten your friends' snail-mail addresses? Some apps can help with that. Keep reading to learn how.