The digital age is a curse of overabundance. With Netflix, there are hundreds (if not thousands) of movies, but often there’s nothing to watch. In Spotify, you can listen to practically any band you want, but you’ll mostly only enjoy a few favorite artists over and over again. And when it comes to photos, people snap thousands, but only return to look at dozens.
The problem with the digital is that it abandons the physical, turning objects we once treasured into ghosts trapped inside the machine. These seven apps will help you liberate your photos from your smartphone, turning treasured memories into memorable treasures.
One Hour Photo
Even in the age of instant gratification, getting photos developed in one hour is still a pretty magical thing. The Walgreens Mobile app connects to around 8,000 locations nationwide — so, likely one near you — to produce same day 4-by-6-inch prints for less than 30 cents. Throw in the ability to refill your prescriptions, clip digital coupons, and chat with the pharmacy staff, and you’ve got a very valuable app.
Just short of having a full-sized photo printer in your pocket, PostalPix is one of the most convenient photo output solutions going. Printing on good ol’ paper, color-popping aluminum, and the obligatory mousepad and iPhone case (at an array of prices), the service is easy to use whether you’re on iOS or Android. And by shipping prints direct to friends and family, it takes the hassle out of the act of actually sharing your pictures.
A new take on an old experience, Disposable Camera App is a throwback to the days when you had a limited number of photos, and you had to make them all count. For $13 a pop, this app will give you 27 printed photos, just like an old disposable camera. With no previews, filters, or undos, the app is 80’s style photography at its finest, even down to the 10 business days you have to wait for the prints to come in. But on the bright side, by that point, those photos will be actual memories, and not just something that happened two weeks ago.
Disposable Camera App is available for free on the App Store
Print Like a Pro
Other than by processing their own film, how do pros get prints? Photographer Tony Northrup uses MPix, which offers 29 different sizes and three different professional-grade photo papers to make images really pop. “The first time I used them, I got rid of my big, professional grade printer that I use at home,” says the author of Stunning Digital Photography and more than 30 other titles. “I just started outsourcing it all, because it’s so much easier and cheaper than trying to do your own printing.”
The USPS has long offered the ability to customize your own stamps, but 20Stamps turns the government-approved novelty into a frictionless transaction with this iPhone app interface. By no means an inexpensive proposition, the service has a 20-stamp minimum, and prices vary depending on the postage you’re buying. Still, sticking your kid’s faces on an envelope and sending it off to Grandpa — if he wasn’t a stamp collector before, he will be when the mail arrives.
A perfect contrast to 20Stamps, Chatbooks is taking inexpensive, printed chapbook technology and bundling it into an easy to use app. The result is a 60-page photo book for just $6. Great for holiday memories or turning a vacation into an experience that lives forever, the six inch-by-six inch books come with perfect binding, 100-pound glossy photo stock and and free shipping, making them perfect as small gifts for any reason.
Prints are the easiest thing to output these days. But the others — magnets, ornaments, and yes, coffee cups — typically take a little more finagling to produce. Snapfish, which has long cornered the market on these kind of photo tchotchkes, makes it simple to get these personalized gifts through their app. The easy-to-use tap-based interface can get you an insulated travel mug, framed photo, or even an iPad case emblazoned with your favorite images. And with 100 free photo prints per month for a year (shipping charges apply), there’s no reason not to give this app a download.