As the iTunes' App Store continues to flood us with everything from security camera monitors to GPS location software it is becoming clear that the iPhone is intended to put us on the grid in every aspect of life. This has, at times, proven to be only true with highly branded applications for corporate entities like Google and Fandango, but as iPhone application programming becomes the new hip profession of the moment for computer-o-philes in all sectors we are going to see life involving applications at all levels. Though the U.S. Postal Service tends to be more than a little late off the block they have finally made their way to our touch screen.
The USPS Mobile, the free iPhone application that has been released by the U.S. Postal Service, models itself off of the features the features that the post office has crammed into their website. This general functionality is then highlighted and multiplied by using the iPhone's built in technology, mainly the possibility for map location. The assumption with USPS Mobile is that those in need of the post office have become increasingly mobile themselves and are going to need to hit multiple post office locations in general. With this the first tab we are given is that for Locations, which gives us a few options. Here we can select either Post Office Locations, Automated Postal Centers, or Collection Boxes, each selection then showing up with small pin dropped locations on a map. This is one of the most crucial features of USPS Mobile as the map function is quickly replacing any kind of common sense of direction, and since it uses the same clear features as the built in iPhone Maps function it is perfect for getting from your location to whatever established post you need to. This works well at most times, especially since locations are accurate at all times. The USPS updates these locations on a consistent basis so you can be completely assured that you are getting accurate information. The fact that we are given the three location types is what makes this a useful function, and if it was just Post Office Locations it would have limited appeal in the USPS Mobile application.
The Zip Code feature is a nice addition, but slightly less useful. You can look up the zip code by city or address, or visa versa. This is nice, yet it serves to reason that USPS Mobile could simply tap into the iPhone hardware and use the GPS function There is no reason to shy away from this feature as it is a perfect combination of the USPS database and the iPhone features, but it may not deserve its own entire section. This is perfect for mailing packages from different locations, especially in dense urban areas where you may not even know when you have jumped from one five digit sector to another.
The most important reason to ship the USPS web features to your iPhone is plainly for the Track feature, which allows you to find your packages location. This may not be entirely important to have with you at all times, but for those working in increasingly technological and nomadic businesses this is going to be indispensable in the years to come. In general Tracking for packages is a feature that began in the online USPS environment and may be the central feature that makes USPS Mobile worth having on your iPhone.
USPS Mobile is kept relatively simple, especially when compared with many of the more commercial applications that are attempting to bring any possible service they can to make iPhone users remain plugged in for longer. Instead it brings three basic functions that work well and prove their usefulness beyond the momentary obsessions that most free iPhone applications bring. It would have been nice if their had been more customizable features put into the application, yet this is not going to pull away from how essential the three functions it does have in place are. For those who use the U.S. Postal Service even casually this is proven to be a must have application.
Four out of five stars.