Google Envelopes, Beta Of Course

Designers Rahul Mahtani & Yofred Moik from the Industrial Design program at Syracuse University came up with this concept called Google Envelopes. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to map the course of mail and how it can tell a story? They came up with Google Envelopes, which can be sent through G-Mail itself. It’s only a concept, but totally viable and something people can immediately understand.

Designers: Rahul Mahtani & Yofred Moik

Google Mail Envelopes by Rahul Mahtani & Yofred Moik





  • mike says:

    lol, what if the sender lives to the east of the recipient?

    • Long Tran says:

      Or on the other side of the world for that matter. Hey, that’s why this is BETA. Hahaha

    • thomas says:

      i guess the map is then upside down but then you can turn the envelope upside down too

    • Just split screen the map. Problem solved, and it would still look great.

    • JP Robichaud says:

      Map will be print upside down.

    • Huhster says:

      Having worked in a sorting office for 6 years I can tell you from experience you need a big FROM and TO in bold red in those address boxes otherwise lots of customers will be sending the letters to themselves, most address labels are read by computers and they cannot tell which is which without FROM and TO.

      • 24601 says:

        Since when do we put From and To on envelopes? Everyone (in the US at least) knows that the Recipient’s address goes in the middle, and the Sender’s address goes in the top left corner. Basic formatting that even a computer can understand. I’ve never seen From and To being used on an envelope.

        • NL says:

          You think the US sets the standards for the rest of the world?
          Newflash!! You DONT!

          I know it must come as a shock, no worries, it will pass. πŸ˜‰

          • Aaron says:

            Except that the proposal states that it would us the USPS and both of their mock-ups show US addresses. Reading comprehension, FTW.

    • Moo says:

      The world is round; west is relative. Zoom out if you must πŸ˜€

    • jesh says:

      it has to travel east… no matter what.

    • jesh says:

      it has to travel east… no matter what.

  • Grover says:

    Useful. Like a rubber crutch.

  • James Taylor says:

    Er, maps don’t have to have north at the top, it’s just a convention. There’s no reason you couln’t spin the map around to have any layout you liked.

    • anquan wang says:

      HOW A you ….

    • werasd says:

      Exept for the text being upside down.
      Google maps dont have dynamically spinning text labels.

      • GrokMonkey says:

        That actually wouldn’t be hard to do.
        Besides, while the article title says “beta”, this is a concept by design students in no way affiliated with Google. It’s not intended to be a market or full product concept, but only to use extraordinary design to show a novel way of looking at things taken for granted.

      • bob says:

        Actually they do πŸ™‚ go to labs and turn on rotate maps…. rotate the map and the labels are perfectly readable.

      • bob says:

        Actually they do πŸ™‚ go to labs and turn on rotate maps…. rotate the map and the labels are perfectly readable.

  • Evo says:

    If I use these, does this mean my mail will never get lost? That would be nice!

  • sebbou says:

    It’s maybe too earlier for the 1st April joke!

  • not well thought out says:


    • Rich says:

      Wasteful? Real letter as much more personal then a email. LOVE this idea, I hope it becomes a application.

  • hmmmm says:


  • rose says:

    awesome idea!
    even though, i could just write it personally and then send it…but I find that I have no time for that physically, so if I do it electronically it’ll be much easier and faster.

  • Hanna says:

    This is amazing. I think it’d give snail mail the kick it needs to get back up and running again!

    • Sean Steezy says:

      Haha yeah, definitely. I would use this so much too, I seem to have troubles collecting a) stamps and b) envelopes… unless I take them from my company…

      Excellent Idea! Let’s make it happen!

      • claniel says:

        You have trouble collecting envelopes and take them from your company!

        Never heard that you can buy those at a store instead of stealing.

  • AMG says:

    Hell yes I would use this. I love this concept.

  • Kesha says:


  • Mj says:

    Make it so attachments get printed too & ya’ got me. That would be cool. Might even send stuff to myself.

    • Jeremy says:

      That’s right! If it printed out that mp3 I was just sent, then they’d really be in business

  • Logo designs says:

    Fantabolous idea! great way to send mails in these custom made envelopes

  • read says:

    Are you listening Google?

  • Nick says:

    Has Google been contacted about this? You should seriously let them know. I think it’s a great idea, and I agree with the previous commenter who said that it would kickstart snail mail again.

  • Kevin says:

    well, Engadget has picked it up … that means its def being read at Google as we speak.
    Slick work guys! Go ‘Cuse! (Kevin ’01)

  • Erin says:

    This would be great for us who travel! They could see where we sent it from

  • Ambuj Saxena says:

    I tried it myself. Envelope looks way too cool.

    • PPangelinan says:

      how exactly did you do it yourself? I would like to try this for sending out things to clients.

      • GFYM says:

        Buy a printer.
        Find the map you like on google maps.
        Print the map.
        Make an envelope out of the print.
        Put in the things to your clients.
        Send it.

  • Chris says:

    I would use this all the time if it was available… seriously! What a good idea! I know they made this as a joke for one of their April Fools, but here’s hoping Google actually tries it for fun!

  • Very clever, Google wants to spread in all the dimensions…..but its cool idea…i love to use this service.


  • Jitender sharma says:

    I loved the concept. Google is so innovative.Would love to join it one day. πŸ™‚
    we came from Post-to-Email and now going Email-to-Post. πŸ™‚

  • Fred says:

    Best of luck with this boys, but I gotta tell ya – Back in ’02 I lost everything I had on a similar plan, where Navajo smoke signals were sent up a users chimney by pressing Alt + S.

  • choonhong says:

    I love the design of the envelope. but, it is sorta waste, isnt it?

  • rj says:

    Uhm . . . where is sthe barcode?
    the PO will write on the envelope if they dont do it themselves.

    • 24601 says:

      Umm, what barcode? The PO always prints on their own barcodes at the sorting facility. As far as I know that has never been the responsibility of the sender to print a barcode on their envelopes.

  • JB says:

    Wanna have this.

    Greetz from Berlin, Germany

  • els says:

    kinda cool, but i don’t see why i would ever use it

  • adspedia says:

    It would be great to include a perfumed envelope paper πŸ™‚

  • krk485 says:

    Need, want, and must habe those

  • rooster says:

    this is the dumbest idea ever. if it wasn’t google droids, it would get < 0 press.

  • egg says:

    IN LOVE <3


  • William says:

    The French Post Office already offers a service like this… but without the nifty envelope πŸ™

  • Nick says:

    If this was real I’d send some of these to a friend of mine in Topeka!

  • Neil says:

    You could also track the path of an email through physical cables & routers… generate a map visible upon receipt? That would be cool.

  • pete says:

    I love it. But how to I turn feature on???

    • 24601 says:

      Read the article. It says it’s only a concept, meaning it’s not a real feature yet.

  • Diane says:

    Would love to just be able to print an envelope like this through google maps. No need for the gmail connection – just allow me to format 2 address in Maps and then allow for a print envelope option. Simple and fun!

    • Bharat says:

      This. Exactly this.

      I know Google isn’t going to do this because, quite honestly, it’s a waste of money and paper to send an email as a postal letter, and the logistics would probably be stupidly expensive…

      But I send snail mail all over the world anyway, and it would be nice if we could do this ourselves as long as we had envelopes and a printer.

  • Chimel says:

    Would be even cooler if the envelopes were made from recycled hemp paper, that has already been smoked once.

    Nah, it’s a genius and beautiful idea. Google should extend it to other such dynamic or static designs, then the increased traffic would save jobs at USPS and allow them to continue delivering mail on Saturdays.

    Gmail (electronic and snail) should also work with images and tablet-like script, I’d prefer to send my real writing rather than my words in some computer font.

  • TekGems says:

    What if the person lives in another country and you can’t drive the letter there?

  • patreek! says:

    Have you ever tried getting driving directions from the US to AUS? It will include thousands of miles by KAYAK! True!

    • Ambuj Saxena says:

      Thanks Patreek. I never realized that. LOL

    • Jared says:

      Haha I did that by accident once in the Google Maps app on my Android. I punched in a search for a place I was going to and it picked up a motorcycle pub on the east coast of the U.S. and told me to Kayak there via Japan and Hawaii.

  • Wicked, this I cannot wait for πŸ™‚

  • Will says:

    awesome thought! lots of ink though. And I don’t see what issue people have with sending westward…the arrows just go in a different direction don’t they? If the issue is that the map shown only shows the east coast, they have maps of the whole word, the point of this is that each one is custom, if you live further apart or something they just zoom out. Maybe I’m missing something, but it doesn’t seem like a problem.

  • Ambuj Saxena says:

    Guys, party’s over. I tried it and USPS rejected my mail and returned it. Here’s the blog post I wrote about it:

    Wish the original designers had tried it themselves before proposing it. Can someone please inform them.

    • steve says:

      They returned it as you had the “to” and “from” in the wrong places. Try it right and i bet it works.

  • Ambuj Saxena says:

    I guess I will save 44Β’ this time. Will anyone else offer to try it? Has anyone succeeded?

  • Nick Johnson says:

    I thought this was such a cool idea, I implemented an app to generate them for anyone who wants them:

    It’ll happily generate one for you in any common envelope size, and produces an easily printable PDF as output.

    A couple of differences from the samples:
    – No callouts on the bubbles. These are difficult to do, and will often look messy, given that the start and end addresses will not always be as neatly positioned as they are in the samples.
    – The ‘popups’ contain ‘From’ and ‘To’ instead of just ‘Address’, to increase the chances your envelope will find its way to its destination.

    • Freek says:


      Awesome app. Thanks for making it!

    • Bharat says:

      Excellent! Thanks so much!

      It’s a pity it won’t show international routes across the ocean, but at least it shows the start and end points.

      I’ll let you know if Royal Mail is okay with it πŸ˜›

    • Yofred says:

      Hi Nick! I am one of the designers of this concept and very happy to see people contributing to the idea. We are currently discussing with programmers here at Syracuse University to turn this concept into fruition, but looking at your app I am impressed. I think only a little more work is needed to complete it. Would you be able to contact me ? We would appreciate it.

  • Josh says:

    Announced by Google on April 1st… April fools?

  • Ambuj Saxena says:

    @Nick, Excellent work. Can you tweak it just a bit so that the start and end points are always visible. For example, generating route from Seattle, WA to Mobile, AL results in Seattle getting obscured by the “From” field.

    @Bharat, Haven’t you tried getting directions from Seattle, WA to Melbourne, AU.

    @Josh, Google never announced it, to the best of my knowledge. April Fools to you!

    • Nick Johnson says:

      @Ambuj: Easier said than done, alas – calculating the location of the pins is actually quite difficult, since the Maps API does all the drawing for me. :/

      • kenneth says:

        Hi Nick, I tried to generate one today but there is an error message… again, well done to all the works you put into it… very nice.

        Regards, Kenneth

        • Kenneth says:

          Traceback (most recent call last):
          File “/base/python_runtime/python_lib/versions/1/google/appengine/ext/webapp/”, line 511, in __call__
          File “/base/data/home/apps/mapvelopes/main.341084165938999830/”, line 274, in get
          start_loc, end_loc, route = get_route(start_address, end_address)
          File “/base/data/home/apps/mapvelopes/main.341084165938999830/”, line 104, in get_route
          start_geocode = decode_geocode_response(route[‘legs’][0][‘start_geocode’])
          KeyError: ‘start_geocode’

  • Ambuj Saxena says:

    @Nick, I was kinda expecting that. Again, thanks for the hard work.

  • baculum says:

    If you are that close to transmitting digitally, why would you ever choose to go snail? For sentimentality I suppose.

  • Ivan Eusebio says:

    Dudes, you should do this. Even if it is offered only as an option and a paying one. I would totally pay to send letters to my friends.


  • Dan says:

    A friend of mine put this together based on a similar concept:

  • iRingPro says:

    A total head-slapper.

    What a brilliant concept. Graceful and lovely. All these guys who are obviously confused as to how to handle the round-world issue – um – duh – the same way we’ve been illustrating world maps on flat paper for 200 years.

    Orientation and scaling are obviously intended to be automated to align correctly with the FROM and TO locations. Google maps already does that.

    Simple and brilliant.

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