Cards: Apple’s Warning to Hallmark

When the iPhone 4S was announced, Apple also introduced quite a few other products including Cards, which made everyone tilt their heads slightly to the left and say, “Huh?” It didn’t make a lot of sense to most people, but to me, I got it. I tweeted this right away:

New Cards app for iOS. My mother will buy this today, guaranteed. Make your own greeting cards on your iPhone.

Apple has sold greetings cards for a long time now through iPhoto, but this will take it up to the next step. Get ready to see lots of Apple cards in your mail this holiday season.

Why

As I write this, I’m sitting in front of a cabinet located across from the dining room table. Inside said cabinet are a stack of Thank You cards, blank, that have the same colors as my wedding three years ago. My wife says she’s bad at sending out cards of any type, and those wedding cards are proof of it (although admittedly, I’m accountable for that error as well). With Cards for the iPhone, I think we may stop that trend in its tracks.

Select from a few different subjects, then different card types.

Select from a few different subjects, then different card types.

We’re told from a young age that we should send out cards to celebrate various occasions, but more often than not, we forget to do it. It’s not that we’re bad people, it’s just that sometimes life gets in the way and we get busy. Running to the store to spend 20 minutes picking out that perfect sentiment on paper can be a bit tricky, and forget all the hassle of buying stamps and getting it mailed. We’ll just send them a quick email to say thanks instead.

Some cards allow you to upload or take your own photos.

Some cards allow you to upload or take your own photos.

Cards streamlines the entire process. Pick out your card, customize it to your liking, fill out the address and pay for it via your iTunes account. For a little over $3 with tax, you can send a fully custom card to your friend or relative, and you don’t have to even visit a Hallmark store.

How It Works

None of this would matter if it was a pain to make those cards, so Apple has made it easy. There are six different categories to choose from, and inside each category are various templates. Maybe you just want to write a quick note and don’t want to deal with adding a picture, or possibly you want to customize the image with a shot taken right at that moment to enshrine the situation. Pick your poison and procede.

Upload your own image from your iPhone or take one on the spot. Then edit it in the app.

Upload your own image from your iPhone or take one on the spot. Then edit it in the app.

Once the image is sized and placed to your liking, then it’s time to edit the text which is just a touch away. Tap on the text to call up the keyboard, then enter whatever you like.

Text entry is pretty straightforward.

Text entry is pretty straightforward.

Moving to the Inside

Once you’re done with the cover, tap on one of the remaining two options on the top of the screen, Inside or Envelope. For the inside, just enter in whatever you want and move on to the envelope. The app automatically fills out your information, and then you can pull a contact from your Address Book or just type it in manually, whatever you prefer.

The card opens up so you can enter your text to the inside.

The card opens up so you can enter your text to the inside.

Enter your own address or pull it out of the Address Book.

Enter your own address or pull it out of the Address Book.

With that, it’s time to buy your card, and that’s pretty easy. Click on the $2.99 price tag in the upper right corner, confirm and enter your iTunes password to get the sale moving.

From here, the info goes to Apple where they print the card themselves and ship it off, all for the $2.99 price tag.

The Results

It took a few days to get things printed up and sent off, but a few days later my mother got a card in the mail that looked exactly like the one I had seen previewed just a few days before on my iPhone. When I opened it up, the card looked like this:

The card in real life.

The card in real life.

These are letterpressed cards, which means they have cool grooves in the paper for the artwork. Originally I thought this meant that the text itself was also embossed, but it turns out that it’s not. Instead, all of the designs are letterpress, but the text and image are just printed on the card.

That’s not to say that it doesn’t look good, because it looks pretty amazing. The text was a little gray instead of the sharp black I expected, but not so much that it made me mad. It almost matched the muted colors of the card template that I chose, so I wasn’t quite sure if it was accurate or not.

Custom text on your custom card.

Custom text on your custom card.

Overall, I was very impressed with the card itself. It’s on thick stock, pressed nicely, and just looks amazing. In another interesting twist, there is no identification on the card anywhere that says it was made by Apple. My wife and I have one of the iPhoto books, and that has Apple branding all over the place. I can’t say that I’m surprised that there’s no branding, but I do think it’s an interesting decision to make.

Final Verdict

I’m not a card guy. I don’t buy them for people very often, and when I do, I don’t tend to spend days or weeks working on them. Cards makes it easy for me to make a card and send it out quickly, taking all the hassle out of picking the card in the first place, and making it a very simple process. That’s what I want in a card, because as a guy, I just don’t want to waste my time finding that perfect sentiment in the aisles of my local Target. Why not just create something myself and really express how I feel?

My mother loves it as well, and I expect to get quite a few cards from her in the coming months. Most of them, I suspect, will star her grandson.

As for you, the question goes like this: Do you need to send greeting cards frequently? And if so, do you want custom ones or do you prefer the process of picking them out? Let us know in the comments.


Summary

Produce and make your own greeting cards on the iPhone, then send them out yourself.

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