My inbox is always flooded with various shipping notifications, especially this time of year, as I have gifts on the way to relatives across the country. “See what packages are coming your way,” sing FedEx, UPS, and the USPS’s Informed Delivery summaries. “Here’s the latest on that thing you ordered,” say a billion online stores. The cacophony doesn’t bother me though. I know I can safely ignore almost all of those emails because an app called Parcel already updates me on everything they’re trying to tell me.
While I’m about to rack up a lot of praise for this particular app, it’s worth noting that it’s far from the only package tracking app (I’ve heard a lot of praise for Shopify’s store, which also benefits from being available for Android, and we have to pay tribute to an App Store OG like JuneCloud’s Deliveries, even if it’s not what it once was). If you’re the type of person who does a lot of online shopping, I can’t recommend having enough of them.
Here’s what the workflow looks like: Once I get a tracking number for a package, I open Parcel and add it, along with a description of what’s being delivered. And that’s… pretty much. The app handles it from there, notifying me if it moves towards my home, saving me from constantly checking where the thing I’m impatiently waiting for is. I am always aware that it is currently somewhere in Kentucky or flying over my house so it can go to a shipping hub before being shipped back to me. And if I want a broader view, Parcel will show me a list of all the packages I’ve entered, along with an estimate of the number of days before they arrive, as shown in the screenshot at the top of this article.
(Easily, the length of that list also acts as a good indicator of whether I’ve shopped too much. If it’s taking up my entire phone screen, it’s a good sign I need to cut back.)
As for why I use Parcel specifically – and am willing to pay the $4.99 annual subscription – there are a few features that make it perfect for the specific way I use apps. Perhaps the biggest is that there’s a version of it for macOS, so I’m not limited to tracking and adding packages on my phone. It also has a ton of options when it comes to how it ranks data; if I want to see how many days it’s been since my items shipped instead of how long it took them to be delivered, there’s an option for that. I’ve arranged my list so that the packages with the most recent updates are at the top, but there are several other options as well.
Parcel is also relatively omnivorous. It can track packages from just about any major carrier here in the US, and according to its website, it can even automatically add and track packages from Amazon if you give it access to your account. However, I would recommend reading reviews for any tracking apps you check out if you shop at Amazon often, as not all of them handle those packages nicely. (I personally can’t say whether Parcel does or not as I try to avoid the retailer.)
Having an overview of where your packages are may seem like peak consumerism – and I admit it is. But that’s not it only useful for stimulating the part of your brain that wants what you ordered right now; I’ve also found it very helpful when I’m selling things on eBay and want to make sure my customers receive their orders on time. It’s also nice to know when something went wrong in the shipping process so I’m not standing at the door waiting for something that should arrive but has been held up somewhere.
While I actively appreciate my package manager around holidays and birthdays, it’s a handy tool to have all year round, and you should take this time to give it a try if you’ve never made a habit of it. (Searching your email for tracking numbers and then googling them individually is really no way to live!)
If you are specifically intrigued by Parcel, you can download it for iOS here and macOS here – you can try it for free, although premium features like notifications do require a subscription. And if you’d rather try something else, there are plenty of alternatives available in the App and Play stores.