Spread some holiday cheer with Pocket Card Lab

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By Pete Davison Comments

Pocket Card Lab is an iOS app from Urbn Pockets. It’s normally a paid app, but in celebration of the festive season, the developers have temporarily made it free so children and the young at heart can make their own electronic holiday cards without having to pay a cent. It’s available now from the App Store.

Pocket Card Lab takes its users through several steps to create their card. Firstly, users have the option of taking a photograph to use as the backdrop. This may use either the front or rear camera, and makes use of a custom camera interface rather than the standard iOS setup. There are a few issues with this functionality, however — sometimes the “shutter” graphic appears on screen and does not open up to reveal the actual image underneath, necessitating use of the “switch camera” function to make it appear correctly. There also does not appear to be a means of using the flash.

Once the user has taken a photograph or imported a backdrop from their camera roll, they may then begin to customize their card. This is a strictly linear step-by-step process in which users first choose one of three cartoonish characters or none at all, then move on to a component where various stickers can be dragged onto the screen, rotated and resized. Following this, one of several preset pieces of text may be optionally added and moved on the page, then a frame/overlay added, and finally a custom message composed and positioned. After the card is complete, users may either save it as an image to their camera roll or send it via email. There is no other social functionality in the app.

Pocket Card Lab does a good basic job of allowing users to assemble a holiday-themed card. Its interface is relatively simple to understand — though some of its icons are a little obtuse in meaning — and straightforward enough for a child to use. Several of the components have flawed or overly-limited functionality, however. Besides the already-mentioned camera issue, the sticker component is the worst offender, with the app not making the various gestures required to rotate, resize and delete the various objects at all clear, and a seeming complete inability to “layer” objects, making certain compositions all but impossible to accomplish.

The app is also a little limited in content. The preset characters cover three broad stereotypes — white blonde-haired girl, white brown-haired boy and curly-haired black boy — and these may not be customized. The stickers fare a little better, with a much wider selection on offer, but the inability to layer them properly makes them difficult to use effectively. The preset text messages also suffer from a limited selection, though the ability to also add a custom message negates this somewhat — when the app doesn’t capture an image of the text cursor and “delete” button in the process of assembling the card, that is.

Pocket Card Lab is a good idea, then, just one that is a little limited and flawed in its execution. It is reasonable quality for a free (and ad-free) app, but it’s difficult to imagine paying money for this in its current state.

You can follow Pocket Card Lab’s progress with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social apps and developers.