Most app developers these days quite reasonably focus their efforts on developing products that push the envelope of our digital technological know-how. Others, however, design apps that solve other, more analog problems.
If there’s any entity that’s suffering the growing pains of our digital economy, it’s the United States Postal Service. With mail volume significantly reduced by e-mail and text, and with the packages we actually want dropped off at our homes delivered by FedEx and UPS, times are tight down at the USPS. Of course, it doesn’t help that Congress requires the USPS to pre-fund employee pensions 75 years in advance – that is, it’s storing money to pay benefits to people it hasn’t even hired yet, indeed, who might not even be born yet. (Bear in mind that this is Congress’s requirement, not the Post Office’s.) So they could use a little money to keep lights on.
But as Ibrahim Abdul-Matin of PC Mag reported, mobile apps are coming to the rescue. Hardly any of us look forward to collecting our mail these days. We digitize our bills and we talk to our friends and family electronically, so when we do go to get the mail, we’re always caught wondering why we don’t have a recycling bin placed right next to it.
But take, for example, Postography, an app developed by Sam Utne so that he could better communicate with his grandmother. Postography lets you snap a photo or select one from your library, add filters, borders, a note, and sign with your finger. Instead of posting that photo on Instagram, however, Postography will print it up on recycled paper and send it through the mail. In one mobile app, then, Utne and his team not only made mail worth collecting again, but also improved on the stock-image post-cards we find in tourist-trap gift shops.
A number of other mobile apps like Postcard on the Run, Red Stamp, and Postagram offer similar services, and if you’re interested in giving a very pleasant surprise to friends or family, we’d recommend you try one. If you’re a mobile app developer, however, apps like these let us know that there are plenty of spaces ripe for innovation.
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