Touchnote is the popular send-a-postcard-from-your phone service. This article deals with the mechanics of the app, my experience of the app and some details of the company behind it including some feedback directly from Touchnote. This review is based on my use of the application on a Nexus 4 running Android (Jellybean 4.3) but do post in the comments field if you’ve used it on other devices as there are apps for Android tablets, iPhone / iPad and other operating systems.
On the Android Play Store the app has been downloaded over 1 million times! Once you download it you get four pages to skip through outlining what it costs and how it works. Then you hit a screen that’s real simple:
Clicking on the button gives you the option of choosing where to select your picture from; usual suspects here including gallery, Facebook or take a picture. Once a pic is chosen you are given a screen with the size of the postcard overlayed on your picture. You can then rotate and zoom until you get the perfect picture as my snap of the TV with a well know, crumpled detective should show:
Then you choose who to send it to. Either a new address, Facebook friend, someone already in your contacts (or sign in if it’s the first time you’ve used the app). If you want to send a postcard to a Facebook friend whose address you don’t have Touchnote will send a message to that friend requesting address information. If granted, these details are then stored on Touchnote’s server so you will never have direct access to the address, but your postcard can be sent to your desired recipient all the same.
After this you pay for your order via paypal or credit card or confirm you want to use one of your pre-paid credits and that’s it, order placed! All cards are printed and sent on the next working day after the order is received (Mon-Fri). Postcards are printed and posted from the UK, Germany, US and Australia (you can also send greeting cards which are printed in the UK only).
Postcard delivery times:
UK: 1-3 working days
USA: 1-5 working days
Europe: 1-4 working days
Australia: 1-4 working days
Other countries: up to 3 weeks
Real Life Test
I ordered two postcards as a test to see how the service works. I’m happy to report that using the app was a joy, very easy and instinctive, I particularly liked how you get to see how things look before moving to the next stage and can easily start over if necessary. I ordered two postcards at 8pm on Monday 12th August. I got a confirmation e-mail the same evening to confirm my orders and on Tuesday I received additional e-mails confirming both orders were posted. The card I had sent to my work address (a picture of myself and some colleagues at a sales conference) arrived on Thursday 15th, so two days delivery, and looked pretty damn good! The second card, a picture from Greenwich Park in South East London, I sent to my mum (Well c’mon, you would too) and it arrived on Thursday as well. Both cards had a glossy, good quality feel to them, a little GPS originated map of the location of my house with a ‘posted from’ comment next to it and a postmark showing they had been posted from Guernsey. The picture of my work-team was a tiny bit grainy but I attribute that to the quality of the original photo. The picture I sent to my mum I have not seen but she assures me it was top quality, very clear and was a great reminder of our visit to Greenwich last year.
All in all I’m very happy with the app and service, it does exactly what it promises in good time with a premium feel.
So Touchnote; when, where and why should I care?
Touchnote was started by Raam Thakrar and Paul Burdin in 2008 and is based in Camden, North West London. They started a website that allows users to upload an image or source one from other places via URL, and then use it to design a postcard. In 2009 the company released their first application, for the Nokia OVI store. Later in 2009 they released an iPhone app and in 2010 an Android app and Windows Phone 7 app. Their Android app was preloaded across the entire Sony Ericsson Experia range.
In his e-mail to CoolSmartPhone Raam Thakrar, one of the co-founders, told us
We’re a mobile company that does web support – over 85% of our 2012 revenue came from mobile, and we’d expect 2013 to be similar. We think mobile before we think web. That’s who we are as individuals, as well as how we see consumers / eCommerce evolving.
I asked him if he had any odd or exotic requests and he explained
We’re really protective about our users’ privacy, therefore can only talk about cards / orders where we’ve been explicitly allowed to discuss it. Mostly it’s lots of family / friend photos – weekend’s at the park, seeing relatives, out with friends etc. Lots of sentimental private jokes.
We’ve had some fun / weird places – recently we had a spate of cards that appeared to come from the middle of the Pacific, and proved to be from a sail boat that had internet coverage.
Whilst talking about the huge variety of customers who use the service he also said
– got an adult star who likes to send her fans glossy shiny pictures of herself.
– had a lot of people tell their family that they are pregnant (i.e. sharing a photo of the baby scan).
– got quite a lot of parents who are creatively having their kids’ toys talk to their kids – e.g. the teddy bear inviting the little girl to a picnic.
When asked if he had any plans for creating their app on different operating systems and he stated they had no current plans for other platforms. His ending to the e-mail sums up their company ethos quite succinctly:
In terms of future, we’re obsessed with how we can help people best share their photos
As far as I can see these days the more pictures that get taken the less time people have to see them. With the myriad of sharing options available – Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram being the current most popular of an ever increasing list, there is only so much time you can spend before you get tired eyes and long for something, anything else.
However getting a postcard is still a rarity. Having the card with a great, totally unique picture on and arriving from anywhere with a mobile phone mast or internet coverage (read a LOT of places) is pretty amazing considering you don’t need a postbox, stamp or giftshop. I’m pretty chuffed with the idea, will definitely be using it on my next holiday and know several members of my extended family whom will really appreciate receiving such post.
So what do you think, in this modern world is the real ‘postal mail’ dead and we should leave it to be buried? Do you know of a similar or better service? Let me know in the comments section below.