Amazon Launches Surprise!, A Facebook-Powered App For Sending Personalized E-Cards

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Amazon today has rolled out a new mobile application for iOS and Android users called Surprise! that allows you to send e-cards to friends and family to celebrate various occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, and, of course, the forthcoming December holidays including Christmas, Chanukah, and Kwanzaa, where gift-giving may come into play. With the new app, users can personalize cards with photos, audio or even video, and easily attach an Amazon Gift Card to accompany their “surprise.”

The app doesn’t offer as many design choices as some e-card competitors do, and those it offers are attractive, but relatively generic choices: a white reindeer on a red background, “Happy Holidays” written above snow and trees, wrapped presents and balloons with “Happy Birthday” scrawled above, etc.

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That doesn’t really matter, however, because the Surprise! app isn’t really about the card itself – it’s about what it contains. Though not required, the big draw here is being able to quickly send an Amazon Gift Card from your mobile device, without having to navigate the website or browse to the appropriate section in the flagship Amazon application where gift cards can be sent out via email.

Surprise additionally takes advantage of integrations with Facebook to fill your own “Occasion Timeline” by adding friends’ and family events, like birthdays. It also pulls in events from your phone’s calendar and pulls in your phone’s contacts. The occasions are also synced with Amazon’s “Friends & Family Gifting” program on the web, which is where the company offers other Facebook-enabled gift suggestions.

That program first debuted in December 2012 after competitor Walmart launched a similar feature. Online, users were invited to connect their Amazon and Facebook accounts in order to find gift ideas based on Facebook Likes.

In Surprise!, though, consumers no longer have to worry with gift ideas – the only option is to send an Amazon Gift Card. You cannot browse Amazon for products to ship to a friend to go with the e-card, nor can you “attach” digital purchases, like a Kindle book download, for instance.

Cards can be personalized using photos and videos taken from your device, the device’s gallery, or from Facebook, and you can leave your greeting via written text or as a voice clip. For faster, last-minute digital gift cards, a “Simple” card style is also available which doesn’t include the personalization options – you simply select an amount and sign your name.

The new app competes to some extent with other digital card services like those from Sincerely, Red Stamp, or CleverCards, to name a few.

The Surprise! app is a free download on iTunes, Google Play and the Amazon Appstore.