Apple’s Cards app introduced in 2011 and discontinued two years later remains one of my favorite iPhone apps to date. The service was fantastic: snap photos on your iPhone, then turn them into personalized letterpress cards sent through the mail to friends and family. Stamp and envelope included, you’d pay $2.99 for anywhere in the US or $4.99 for anywhere around the world. You can still send personalized letterpress cards using Photos on the Mac, but the service was perfect for me as an iPhone app.
I’ve tried a handful of similar iPhone apps since Cards shut down with Postly being the latest and perhaps most modern. Available for iPhone and iPad, Postly lets you create personalized postcards from your iPhone that deliver worldwide for $1.99.
The experience isn’t quite the same as Apple’s short-lived Cards app. You send a 4×6 postcard versus a 5×7 enveloped letterpress card, but Postly offers the same convenience is similar personalization which is compelling. It even has a few modern features that make it stand out.
From the Home screen, Postly supports 3D Touch on the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus with a shortcut to create a new postcard. Peek and pop 3D Touch shortcuts within the app let you deep press postcards that you’ve created to easily edit, share, or delete them too. There’s even an Apple Watch app for tracking deliveries.
Once you’re in the app, Postly lets you choose from your photo library to decide what image you want to appear on the top of your postcard. You can choose between several layouts which let you select a single image or use as many as six images, then choose between eight optional filters named after cities. From here you can adjust your image placement by panning or zooming to get the right look.
Other layout options include four levels of image padding and adjusting between square and rounded corners. When using image padding, you can optionally choose a white border or one of several pattern backgrounds or solid colors as well. Finally, you can optionally apply emoji-like images over your photos with additional download packs available for free (some of which are inappropriate for younger audiences).
Once you’ve designed the front of your postcard, Postly lets you type out a personal message to appear on the back of the postcard. Postly features eight different fonts for your message, two of which look hand-written, and your message can appear in one of nine offered colors.
After you’ve settled on your message, which appears in the top left corner of the back of the postcard, Postly lets you use your finger (or a stylus) to really personalize your postcard with your actual signature. The digital ink looks something like using a Sharpie marker, though, which I found is better for initials than full names. It’s a nice touch at any rate.
The last step is to decide where you’re sending the postcard. You can enter the recipient’s information line-by-line, or pull a saved contact out of your address book for quick entry. Postly presents a front-and-back preview of what your postcard will look like in person, and a location toggle in the top right corner lets you apply or remove a nice stamp of your current city.
Then it uploads and lets you check out with your debit or credit card, PayPal, or even Apple Pay (I did say it was modern, right?). From here you’ll receive an emailed receipt and a promise that your postcard will be delivered in 2-5 business days.
In testing, I created my postcard with Postly late on a Thursday night and received it in the mail the following Wednesday morning within the promised range when you factor in weekends and time of day.
Postly isn’t a total replacement for Apple’s old Cards app on the iPhone, but its postcards are reasonably priced and the app is both modern and feature-packed. Letterpress cards are just nicer than postcards and envelopes protect photos from wear picked up during delivery, but features like 3D Touch and Apple Pay at checkout make Postly worth keeping around for me.
The print quality was fine (I turned mine into a framed photo) and the delivery estimate was accurate. For big holiday cards I’ll probably try to remember to use Photos for Mac and hope that Apple brings letterpress card delivery back to iOS in the future, but Postly is easy enough to use that I recommend it for sharing photos from trips and sending quick thank you cards and the like. Find Postly on the App Store for iPhone and iPad.