FunkyPigeon.com offers personalised greetings cards that are posted out the following day. It's a convenient service for people who can't or won't physically shop for and post a card, and allows you the luxury of adding your own photos and words to a variety of designs. The company has recently released mobile apps for Android and iOS, too. See also Top ten Android apps.
I've previously used the company's website to send cards to my brother living in Canada, and for those times when I've forgotten about a family birthday and it's simply too late to get a card through their letterbox without delivering it by hand. Such as last night: I was just about to drop off to sleep and suddenly remembered the boyfriend's mother's birthday is tomorrow. Oops; but no matter. I created a card at midnight, and by 8.30am I'd received an email stating that the card had been despatched. Fingers crossed Royal Mail will get it there in time… See Stick Cricket for Android review.
On browsing to the company's website via a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, FunkyPigeon suggested that I instead used its new Android app. I agreed, and was forwarded to its download page on Google Play. The first thing to strike me was its 1.8-star user rating. Only 28 people had voted so far, but such a low score out of a possible five points wasn't a good sign. See also Samsung Galaxy S3 release date, specs and rumour round-up.
After downloading the app, the reason behind its poor rating became clear. FunkyPigeon for Android feels as though it was rushed out before it was truly ready, with none of the polish you'd expect from such a well-known brand.
The app offers templates for postcards and greetings cards. The latter option offers 12 categories: Birthday; Top 10; Spoof; New; Kids; Humour; Anniversary; Thank You; Get Well; Wedding; New Baby; and Congrats. Choosing any of these brings up a OS X Cover Flow-style presentation of templates to choose between, and you simply swipe through them to find one you like. The absence of a search function is disappointing, and you must scroll through all the birthday cards to find one suitable for 'Mum'.
The templates are downloaded from FunkyPigeon's servers when you pick a category, and even when using a fixed-line broadband connection several slots in the carousel were filled with loading screens. In many cases, the template would load only when tapped.
Worse, the app works only when you have an active internet connection. Running FunkyPigeon for Android on a Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc smartphone over 3G on the way into London this morning, a 'No network connectivity' message popped up as the train went under a tunnel; the restoration of 3G connectivity made no difference and the only option was to close the app, meaning all progress was lost. An automatic save function would be handy in such cases.
Even on the smaller screen of a smartphone, the template thumbnails are so low in resolution that you can't decipher the words. Tap on a card and FunkyPigeon loads a higher-resolution image, but it's a pain to have to click on every thumbnail before making your choice.
The app's editing booth lets you add a name to the front of the card, a personal message to the inside and, depending on the design, a photo. You can choose an image already stored on your device, or use its camera to capture one. It's much easier to zoom into and move photos using fingertips than it is with a mouse, but there was a certain amount of lag in the app responding to the alterations… and then it crashed.
This wasn't even the first time FunkyPigeon's Android app had crashed – the first time I'd got as far as the ordering stage and had to start over.
The interface is fairly straightforward to navigate, but poorly designed from a usability viewpoint. The menus and greeting card designs are fixed in portrait mode, and even when entering text you can't rotate the device to utilise a wider onscreen keyboard. Meanwhile, the postcards are displayed in landscape mode and, again, fixed in that format.
Viewed on a tablet the greetings card fills only the top half of the display, and there's no zoom functionality to take advantage of those extra screen inches.
Another irritant is the inability to see any prices until after you've made your edits and are ready to check out. Our card cost £2.99, while FunkyPigeon offers bonuses with pre-pay credits (£2.50 for every £10). The company provides free First Class postage; alternatively, you can pay £5.25 to have your card delivered in the UK on the next working day or £11.90 to guarantee its delivery before 9am.
I've since resolved to get myself more organised with sending out cards in future. I was therefore surprised to find that no Easter card templates were available in the FunkyPigeon Android app, despite the holiday falling a week on Sunday.