Bond, a new iOS app launched Tuesday, enables users to compose handwritten notes on an iPhone. Sound like an oxymoron?
Here’s how the startup works: users download the program from Apple’s App Store and type out a message, which is then sent to a robot named Giles in New York that writes out the note on embossed stationery using a fountain pen. “The robot’s handwriting is not perfect,” says Bond co-founder Andy Ellwood. For instance, “the letter ‘A’ doesn’t look the same throughout the note” to mimic real penmanship. Then the letter is put in a wax-sealed envelope and mailed off in a box to anywhere in the U.S. Notes cost $5, although at the moment they’re free of charge to celebrate the launch.
While it may seem ironic for Bond to “handwrite” letters using a robot, Ellwood argues the technology is necessary to help meet the volume of requests and thinks it will “enhance tradition, but not replace it.” Bond’s consumers are probably going to be the kind of people who have not bought stationery in years, compose all of their business and personal messages on smartphones and computers, and only hand-write things like a grocery list.
The app will certainly fuel the debate about whether the art of writing letters has been lost, as a widely-cited 2012 British survey found one in three participants had not been asked to produce one in more than a year. Handwritten messages are such a rare find that they can help people land jobs because taking the time to put down the phone and express feelings in cursive rather than emojis makes candidates stand out to employers. That said, given the importance of these notes, if your handwriting is as messy as Treasury Secretary Jack Lew’s signature, then this app may be for you.