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Spread package-sending holiday cheer with new USPS augmented reality app

Pokémon Go may have kick-started the augmented reality trend in smartphone games, but it’s not the only app to use the technique. The latest to join the trend? The United States Postal Service.

The USPS has just launched a new app aimed at building “excitement between senders and recipients of gifts” mailed through Priority Mail boxes. Of course, what that means is that not anyone can use the app — you’ll need to buy a Priority Mail box for a package. If you’re a sender, you’ll be able to choose between two different animated messages: a penguin with some other animal friends near an igloo, or a reindeer in Christmas lights.

“Our app adds that special touch by delivering cheer when mailing and receiving holiday gifts via Priority Mail,” USPS executive vice president James Cochrane said in a statement. “In addition to offering this entertaining app delivercheer.com allows you to buy stamps, order free boxes, schedule a free package pickup, find post office and collection box locations and determine mailing dates.”

To use the app for yourself, as mentioned, you’ll need to buy a Priority Mail box, after which you can head to delivercheer.com and scan the blue shield on the side of the package or enter your tracking number. The app, however, isn’t just geared toward the sender — the receiver will also get a slice of the fun, allowing them to take a photo or video of the package-opening experience and create a “thank you” message with an animated snowman or gingerbread man.

The USPS is set to play a pretty huge role this month. As noted in the company’s press release, it’s expecting to deliver over 16 billion cards, letters, and packages during the 2016 holiday season, including 750 million packages. That’s a hefty 12 percent increase over the 2015 holiday season.