Order free photo prints right from your iPhone or iPad

The aptly named FreePrints app turns your digital snapshots into 4x6 glossies. Ah, but you pay for shipping, so the real deal here is convenience.

FreePrints makes it simple to choose photos from a variety of sources, including Facebook and Instagram.
FreePrints makes it simple to choose photos from a variety of sources, including Facebook and Instagram. Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Still printing photos at home? That's a pricey blend of printer ink, photo paper, and iffy output quality.

Of course, you can use any number of apps to upload photos to your nearest Walgreens, Costco, or the like, but then you're looking a car ride -- and have you seen gas prices lately?

For a cheaper, more convenient way to turn iPhone or iPad snapshots into actual prints, check out FreePrints for iOS from photo lab PhotoAffections.com. True to its name, the app delivers free 4x6 glossies to your door, up to 85 of them per month. Your only cost: shipping.

Of course, that, as they say, is where they get ya. Shipping starts at $1.99, which is what you'll pay for up to 10 photos. Add more shots and you're bumped up to $2.99, then $3.99 and so on -- to a maximum of $9.99 for any order.

How do those rates compare? At Snapfish, I put 10 4x6-inch prints into my shopping cart. Order total: $2.52. Same basic order at Wal-Mart: $2.20 delivered.

So, yeah, FreePrints doesn't really qualify as "free," but it does offer a level of convenience that's hard to beat. That's because the app lets you choose photos from not just your Camera Roll, but also your Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, and Picasa albums.

Once you've chosen the images you want, you can zoom/crop each one as needed. For each picture you can also add extra 4x6 copies (at 9 cents each), as well as 5x5, 5x7, and/or 8x10 prints. PhotoAffections.com's prices for all these extras are competitive, though I'm bummed that you can't opt for a matte finish. Glossy is your only option.

iOS is also your only option, at least for now. According to a PhotoAffections.com rep, the company hopes to release an Android version by the end of the year, but for now there's no solid release date.

FreePrints may not be completely free, but it's easy to use, extremely convenient, and competitively priced when you factor in shipping charges. For anyone who likes to turn digital snapshots into physical prints, it's definitely worth a look.

 

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