3DS owners have been clamoring for a messaging system for several months now, but Swapnote finally delivers that wish...albeit in a decidedly restrictive fashion.
The free application enables you to exchange notes, sound clips, and more with friends on your list. What could be wrong with free?
Well, a few things, it would seem. Given that this is an application launched from the main menu, you cannot message your friends while in-game, thus limiting its practicality for organizing Mario Kart 7 or Street Fighter bouts. You'll have to be drawing everything yourself, so no typing messages on the fly. Furthermore, it's no replacement for PictoChat, since there is a several hour cap on how often StreetPass players can exchange notes.
If you can overlook all of that, you'll be surprised that it can still be rather useful in a situation less focused on instant gratification. Between the photos, drawing, and audio, you have plenty of tools to make a nice greetings card for granny. If you're just looking to send a postcard to a friend or family member, this is the app for you. It would seem that Swapnote was never intended to be a full-blown messaging system to begin with, just a humble little apparatus. You might be waiting quite some time for that.
Regardless, this is probably an app worth downloading (if only because of the free price and that doesn't take up much space on an SD card). Just don't go in expecting online play to be revolutionized.