Picto-Mail: Can You See Me Now?

This app is not currently available in the App Store.

picto-mail-iphone-appPicto-Mail — Emoji are all the rage, but not everyone has the ability to see the miniature pictograms. Sure there are plenty of apps to unlock emoji on your iPhone, but what about your non-iPhone buddies?

If you consider this a dilemma, then Picto-Mail wants to solve your problem. Picto-Mail is an email program that uses "pictos," or icons, to replace 2,500 common words. After you type a message, Picto-Mail will scan your text and any words it recognizes will be replaced with a picto.

The resulting message can be cute or confusing. If you're familiar with the iconography, then it's a fun way to send a semi-encoded message. If the recipient is less familiar, then the result will be considerably less fun. Picto-Mail claims that their specially-created "pictos" — representing words, phrases, actions, etc. — are globally recognized. This wasn't always the case with me, but ymmv. I'm sure if I can learn to decode sentences like "Im a br f v ltl brn & lng wds bthr me," then I can learn to read Picto-Mail too. (btw, it says "I'm a bear of very little brain and long words bother me.")

It should be noted that Picto-Mail is a one-way email program. You use the app to write an email and translate it into pictos. The email can be viewed on any email system, however there is no Picto-to-English translator available. It would be more helpful if the Picto-Mail app could also receive and translate incoming picto-messages.

As an email app, Picto-Mail works as expected. You can access the iPhone's built-in contact list by tapping the blue button or enter an address by hand if you prefer.

The messages I received displayed perfectly — exactly how they looked in the app. However, each "picto" comes attached as separate image. The files are pretty small, but my test message was just two sentences and had 8 attachments. Seems like it could get out of control pretty fast. The upside to the multiple attachments is that by reading the file names, recipients can use a sort of "mad-libs meets word jumble" approach and decode the message. Each attachment is named with the word it replaces.

Picto-Mail has a favorites feature that lets users save a message or part of message so it won't need to be retyped every time. This can be a real time-saver and shows thoughtfulness by the developer.

Picto-Mail is an interesting concept, but the app lacks polish. The images are rather plain and and without a way for non-Picto users to translate the emails, it seems if all the wrinkles haven't quit been worked out yet.

I wouldn't be surprised to see an app like this take over as the next big thing in mobile communications. This sort of visual messaging could be faster than texting and easier to "read" at a glance. Picto-Mail just isn't the app that's going to start the revolution... yet.

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This app is not currently available in the App Store.

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  • Peter wylly

    The statement about the user having to type in the recipients
    email address is not true. When addressing a picto-mail
    the user can tap the iphone standard blue plus icon and their
    contacts can be accessed as usual. The article also doesn't mention that
    the user can decide to use or not use the pictos incase they
    Don't like or don't understand the image. Also that the auto
    search tool makes finding the images instant instead of flipping
    through emoji pages trying to find the beer, champagne or

  • Justin

    Well for me it is a great way to communicate with my teenage kids, they love it. I am now trying it out on some non-english speaking friends, so far so good!!

  • Nico

    I used picot-mail many times to send quick and funny messages to friends, it does the job !

  • JonC

    I think the app great! I've been using it a lot to send fun mails and find it very addicting. It is definitely much easier and quick than the emoji. It also can be quite practical when I'm trying to talk to foreign friends and can't find the right word and know that they wouldn't understand it even if I did. Thumbs up on this!

  • tim

    Picto-mail grows on you the more you use it the better it gets. It manages to work on many different levels. which makes it more fun to use than basic texting, and a lot easier, lets get as many peope round the world as possible picto-mailing tell all you freinds it's great fun !

  • Chris

    This application definitely does the job very nicely. It's fun and kids seem to pick it up very quickly. Definitely recommend the application.