Snap ‘appy: how to send a ‘selfie’ postcard with no stamp required
In an internet-driven age, does anyone still bother sending postcards? I, for one, have stopped doing so. But Touchnote has made me think again. Despite the power of social media, most of us still prefer to receive an old-fashioned postcard rather than a digital greeting. There’s a thoughtfulness attached to a tangible card, which is something you’ll never quite achieve with a virtual one. Yet digital technology is being cleverly harnessed to keep the appeal of the traditional card—with smartphone applications such as Touchnote—transforming holiday snaps into postcards with just a few clicks.
What is Touchnote?
The Touchnote application and website allows customers to buy a tailored postcard online, uploading a photo of your choice for the picture on the front, and typing a personal message on the reverse. This is then emailed to a printing firm and within a day, gets turned into a physical postcard, which is mailed to the recipient. It means you can sidestep the hassle of sourcing a generic card, buying a stamp—wherever you are in the world, licking the stamp and locating a mailbox. Touchnote handles all of that. There’s really no excuse now if you have abandoned the habit of sending postcards; Touchnote enables you to tap into the application and turn your happy moments into a kind gesture. Think of all those postcard adorned fridges in happy grandparents’ houses around the globe.
As one of the world’s most popular postcard-sending service, Touchnote’s mission is to become the application used by everyone to share real, printed photos with loved ones. Sounds ambitious, however, having launched in 2008 in London, Touchnote has since sent over 4 million cards to over 200 countries. Not a bad start by any stretch.
The idea behind Touchnote is beautifully simple, as is using the application:
- Step 1: Just snap a photo with your smartphone. Alternatively, choose one from your camera roll, Facebook, Instagram, Diptic or other photo applications.
- Step 2: Furnish the photo with a caption and on the flip side, add your own words.
- Step 3: Input the recipient’s address, which can be pulled directly from your contact list and you’re done. Once Uncle Joe’s address has been keyed in, you will not need to enter it again—a considered detail.
There is also a basic photo editing functionality in the Touchnote application. This allows you to crop out that stranger’s elbow, rotate the image so the sea is level again, and zoom in and out of photos to get the best image for your postcard. There is even a function in the application that recognises where your image was taken, printing it in the bottom left hand corner on the back of the postcard.
Layout and design
Three main tabs rule the application. In the ‘Postbox’ tab, you can keep track of any current orders. It will tell you when each card is printed and give you the dispatch information. The ‘Account’ tab allows you to keep track of your in-application credits, access a useful help file and contact information. The ‘Create Card’ tab is where the magic happens. Tap to add a photo. Tap to type. It’s that easy. There aren’t any fluffy graphics or distracting details. Creating and managing postcards is child’s play, making it accessible for even the least computer literate amongst us.
Touchnote is just one of a growing number of companies now offering to turn holiday photos into postcards via smartphone applications. But what makes Touchnote stand out from others such as Stannp, Postsnap and Docmail? With Touchnote, you can:
- upload up to four images if one isn’t enough;
- duplicate the same card and edit it to create another one for somebody else;
- utilise Touchnote’s templates or illustrations if you don’t have the perfect photo;
- design the card offline without using any data, save it in draft and send later to escape roaming charges;
- avoid data inputting with the address finder;
- personalise the “stamp” space in the top right hand corner with your own image (customisable stamps are only available in the iPhone and iPad applications);
- track your card—Touchnote send an automated email upon receiving your order and again, once it has been put in the mail (the card isn’t tracked after it has entered the postal system);
- and cancel or correct a mistake on any part of the card, for up to 30 minutes after the card has been ordered. (Simply tap on the card in your order history, then edit the appropriate section.)
Become a thank you note hero
If you prefer greeting cards rather than postcards, you can send those too. Touchnote has a variety of fold over greeting card styles with balloons, flowers, and various seasonal borders that can be used for birthdays, special occasions, or any of the main holidays. Select the desired photo from your camera roll, or any image from the internet for that matter, choose a border and tailor the message on the inside of the card. Touchnote prints the card in the same manner as the postcard and mails it for you. The application also offers a wooden framed photo service, further adding to their bespoke offering.
Good value for a global service?
Wonderfully, the application is free to download. Touchnote tries hard to keep pricing standard where postage costs remain virtually the same—whether you’re sending a postcard to your favourite aunt in Adelaide, your nephews in New York or a fast friend you made while backpacking through Bolivia.
For US users each postcard costs $1.99 (1 credit) to print and mail a single postcard; for UK users it’s £1.99 as a comparison. To print and mail a single greeting card in an envelope costs $3.99 (2 credits), whereas a framed photo will cost $19.99 (10 credits). Touchnote accepts most credit or debit cards and PayPal. If you have an American Express, Maestro or Discover card, you will need to set up an account with PayPal first and then pay via your PayPal account.
Credits can be purchased on the website, the application or Facebook, and gloriously, in volume to receive worthwhile discounts. There is no expiry date on the credit bundles either. The more credits you buy, the lower the cost of each card—who doesn’t relish being rewarded in bulk? If you’re sending multiple cards, this is definitely the way to go. As a traveller on the road, the service has revolutionised the art of marking not-to-be-missed occasions with friends and family all over the planet. Or even just to say thank you, or send a “thinking of you” greeting.
How good is the finished article?
Touchnote postcards and greeting cards are printed on high quality card that boast a high gloss finish. Postcards are 6×4 inches and greeting cards are 7×5 inches, have a fold, just like any traditional greeting card, and are posted in stylish premium envelopes.
How long does the service take?
Superbly, the service is global! Namely, if the country has a functioning postal system, Touchnote will send your card, as promptly as affordably possible. The cards are printed and posted in the UK, USA, Germany or Australia. Although Touchnote sends its cards via First Class mail, delivery times will vary. In the US, postcards and greeting cards take 2 to 5 working days and are dispatched from Arizona. Those printed in Europe take between 1 to 5 working days, Australia no longer than 4 working days. Everywhere else will be between 7 to 10 working days, although Touchnote does pre-empt in its FAQs that arrival times depend on the local postal service.
I always appreciate a business that stands behind its products and services. Touchnote has a “Happiness Guarantee” whereby if you are not 100 per cent satisfied with your card, the company will give you your money back. Touchnote strives to send cards that are no less than perfect. With that in mind, the staff individually checks the quality of each card before sending. If a card isn’t good enough, they print it again. Furthermore, should your card get lost or damaged in the post, Touchnote will resend another as a gesture of goodwill, or refund you in full. That’s some serious after sales customer service. (When you are using the application, simply tap on the card in your order history, then tap the button ‘Didn’t arrrive’ to re-order your card, free of charge.)
Touchnote download links
iOS (The iPhone application requires iOS 3.2 or later and is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.)
Android smartphone and tablets
Simplicity is the key to Touchnote’s success of the digital postcard. The application is a breeze to use—it takes just four taps and entering an address from your smartphone, laptop or tablet—which makes it incredibly easy to share your experience in real time. Or, say hello speedily in a cheap, meaningful and unique way. Incredibly, the cost of sending the card to any destination worldwide stays virtually the same, the sender can create a postcard from anywhere with internet access, and send to anyone in a location where there’s a postal system. While it is similar to other postcard applications such as Postagram, photo editing options and multi-application interfacing definitely give Touchnote postcards that value-added edge over the competition. Effortlessly, Touchnote combines the traditional fun of receiving a real postcard in your mailbox with the convenience of the digital age. What’s not to love?
- Free to download application.
- Send real postcards, greeting cards and framed photos to any country with a postal system.
- Customise with your own photos, an individual caption and caring message.
- Amazing multi-application integration.
- The days of buying overpriced, cliché postcards from airports and lobby stores are over.
- Makes it uncomplicated to stay connected with family, people you meet on your travels, Couchsurfing hosts, your old boss, college friends etc.
- Touchnote postcards get franked, so philatelists (stamp collectors) will be disappointed.