Price: $ 0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.3
Graphics / Sound [rating:3/5]
iPhone Integration [rating:4/5]
User Interface [rating:4/5]
Re-use / Replay Value [rating:3/5]
It's a mouthful, but iTree-The Original Christmas Tree is a good holiday app for creating custom postcards. The images are done in a flat, cartoon-like style, but it looks nice. You are presented with an empty tree to decorate and toolbars allowing you to choose a surprising large variety of ornaments to hang on it. While you are decorating your tree, snow falls in the background, and you have the option of listening to a Christmassy tune. The music is nice, but gets repetitive if you spend any time in the app. I eventually turned it off.
The toolbar also gives you selections for choosing a day or night background, or for automatically choosing a random assortment of ornaments for the tree if you want to send a quick card. Shaking the iPhone/iPod Touch drops all the ornaments off the tree if you want to start over. Once you are finished with your iTree, turning your device into landscape position turns your tree into a scenic postcard, offering you a place to type your holiday message and a send button. Rather than creating a snapshot of the tree to send with the Mail app, the app connects to a server and creates a web link which you then email to the recipient. Before doing this, you are presented with a dialog asking permission to connect to the company's servers.
I'm not sure why it requires a server connection, but it seems harmless. I'd prefer if it just saved the image to my photo library. On the other hand, it is nice that the app hands you off to the Mail app right away. I also wish there was an option to play my own music in the background, or some additional music besides the one built-in tune. It is nice that you can select a large variety of ornaments and can populate the tree with a lot of ornaments, but some people with larger fingers may have trouble controlling the relatively small ornaments. Generally, once I "picked-up" an ornament, my finger covered it sufficiently that I couldn't quite tell where I was putting it. There are certain 'hooks' on the tree where ornaments can attach, and sometimes I would miss and the ornament would just fall off the bottom of the screen. The auto-poulate button can help work around that. If you get really wrapped up in it, you can spend a lot of time decorating one tree.
Overall I like the app. It is a nice experience to create a custom card to send. The extra little effects like the animated snow and the music helped get into the Christmas mood.