In many cases, the frequency of online shopping visits has over taken that of a traditional bricks and mortar store. This is certainly true for the specialty liquor industry. If you have kids and a full-time job, the less time you spend driving to and from stores, the better. Amazon, eBay and MyBottleShop and other online stores make purchasing easy, but tracking packages can become tedious the more you order.
Imagine an average week where you have packages coming from Australia Post, Fedex, UPS, DHL and TNT all from 5 different retailers. Each of these carriers use tracking numbers, but their websites are all annoying to use, especially on the go. On iOS and OS X, instead of having to check multiple carriers multiple times, you can have one app that manages it all.
So what should you look for in an app to track packages?
Ease of adding packages
This is pretty self explanatory. These apps are single purpose apps. If you are going to have one job, you might as well make it easy to use.
By this we mean that the tracking app should be able to support various ways of using it. For example you will want a web version, iPhone version, a version for your Mac, notifications on your Apple watch and so on. A good app will support all these options.
Multiple carrier support
Here in Australia, we’ve got Australia Post, Startrack courier, Fedex, TNT, Fastway and many more. Outside of the Australia, there are a tonne more. How well do these apps work worldwide?
We don’t want to be required to open the app to find out status updates. When something is delivered, getting a push notification is an easy way to know. Even better if you have an Apple watch – the app will tap you on the arm with there is a movement update.
iOS 7 created a wedge for app design, in that there is pre-iOS 7 and post-iOS 7. Apps that still look like they were designed for iOS 6 stand out like a sore thumb.
Package tracking apps aren’t the kind of apps that we use 10 times a day. Our goal is to get the information we need and get back to work. All of these apps are doing something that we can do for free on many retail and shipping carrier websites, but a dedicated app makes tracking all of your packages a “one stop shop.” In this case, you are paying for the convenience. If you buy a lot online, spending a few dollars on an app that can track all of those deliveries is well worth it.
While there are lots of tracking apps out there, there are 2 apps that stand head and shoulders above the others. So here they are.
Deliveries is from JuneCloud, an independent development firm from Michigan USA.
The iOS version of Deliveries works extremely well. It auto-detects when tracking numbers are added to your clipboard, supports background refresh and push notifications, and it includes a Today view widget for quickly checking on incoming packages.With a complete ecosystem and support for modern OS features, this is why it’s a great tracking app. Up until recently, it only had a Dashboard widget for the Mac, but with the release of OS X Yosemite, the developer shipped a fully featured Mac app to round out the platform.
The app supports iCloud syncing, as well as a custom, built-in syncing system. The built-in system is useful if you want to forward emails from retailers to a private email address.
Parcel Tracking iPhone
Junecloud will detect tracking information in the email body and add the package and corresponding information to your account. You can also set up multiple email addresses for your account from which to accept tracking numbers, which means a family member or roommate can share your dataset.
If email isn’t your thing, you can use the developer’s bookmarklet to pull data from your front-most webpage.
Deliveries isn’t the cheapest option available. Some parcel tracking apps are even free but as with most things, you only get what you pay for. Both the Mac and iOS versions are AUD$7.99, but the reliable syncing and powerful data capturing tools make it well worth the price tag.
Parcel App has all Mac based devices covered with iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, OSX and web . The app has a freemium business model where you get the base app for free, but you have to pay $4.49AUD per year if you want the push notifications as well. This really means the app will cost $4.49 each year as the number 1 reason you want a tracking app is to be notified about parcel movement. But it seems a small price to pay for all the benefit.
Parcel looks great and is actively being developed in Australia. It also places icons next to each delivery to let you quickly know the status (in transit or delivered) of the package. It’s a worthy competitor to Deliveries and probably a better choice for Australian customers given the local support. Parcel App has a really nice map interface that allows you to track a parcel graphically which is great the first couple times but then you will just want the status updates.
Parcel includes many of the same features as Deliveries. It’s easy to add tracking numbers from Mac or iOS and includes a nice Today view widget for quick updates.
Parcel Tracking Map