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From phone to frame: Best apps for printing your photos
Erin Lodi | Published: May 3, 2013 at 17:42 UTC17
While vast improvements in camera phone technology have more of us relying on "the camera that's always with you" more than ever before, we also seem to be printing our photographs less and less. Some snaps probably should be relegated only to our online social network sharing, but other mobile images seem deserving of a place in the physical world.
A growing crop of apps now make it easy to send your photos from phone to frame -- but which do it best? We researched dozens and narrowed it down to eight that looked promising enough to fully test using some smartphone snapshots from my recent vacation to Hawaii.
We limited our review to apps that send printouts of your photos from your phone to your doorstep. There's plenty more than can send your order to be printed at a store, and others that specialize in more creative options like postcards and stickers, but for a straightforward mobile solution for moving your photos from the digital to the physical world, try out these apps and don't miss our comparison chart of all of them on page 3.
Free in the Apple App Store
Print Studio specializes in thick, matte “miniprints” which resemble business card-sized versions of your images. The app is only for iOS; although an Android version is in the works, a web version is also available.
The app's user interface is cute and friendly. You can select from your images in a grid display, or tap on an image to switch to a larger scrolling view -- very helpful for reviewing images at a larger scale and ensuring you're ordering the correct print.
The order review screen is simple, you'll just use the up or down arrows to confirm the order amount for each print. The number at the top of the screen will help you track those 48 prints for your first order. Print Studio charges $15 USD for the first 48 prints, and $5 for each additional 20 prints. You'll be charged $15 for your first order regardless of how many prints you select, so you might as well make it 48 because you’ll pay the same for 6 or 48 images.
The high-tech checkout process snaps a photo of your credit card -- much easier than typing all those numbers in one by one.
A charming confirmation email from the team seals the deal, then an email from FedEx on behalf of Social Print Studio offers a tracking link to follow your order. Shipping (available worldwide) was prompt and the prints come neatly wrapped in two stacks. The quality and color was superb, and the size is just different enough to make them uniquely shareable.
Price: $15 USD for the first 48 prints, $5 for each additional 20 prints
What we like: Unique, shareable size, quality prints. Easy purchase process.
What we don't like: No options for additional sizes. A little pricey compared to other apps.
Free in the Apple App Store
Printic's clever orange envelope concept follows the order process from start to finish.
You can select from your photo albums, or pull down the "Wanna use another source?" tab to choose photos from Instagram or Facebook. Once you've made your choices, you'll see the now nearly ubiquitous symbol for editing, the pencil, in the lower right corner of the image. You can change the number of prints (up to 30), crop the image to fit the 1:1 ratio format as you desire (otherwise the crop is automatically made for you), add a message underneath the image or remove it from your selection of prints. You can send your images to more than one address, and add another custom message if you desire.
The final screen before making your purchase is especially cute: you’ll see all images and can scroll through them as they appear to slide in and out of Printic’s signature orange envelope. Printic promises you'll see the physical version of this orange envelope containing your Polaroid-style prints in your mailbox in less than three days.
Printic will send you a confirmation email and ship confirmation email, but no tracking mechanism is included.
We found the whole process rather charming, along with the lo-fi look of the Polaroid format. The glossy prints showed good color quality.
Price: Prints are $0.99 USD with a three-print minimum. Tax and shipping is included.
What we like: The ability to source prints from your phone, or Instagram or Facebook. Printic offers 50 percent off your first order. Clever user interface.
What we don't like: No options for additional sizes.