Tracking packages, monitoring their every movement from the vendor to your front door, can feel a bit like an addiction at times. Once you have the tracking number, you're either refreshing the respective carrier's tracking page, or you're mercilessly opening and closing your favorite package-tracking app hoping you can will the item to inch closer to its final destination.
As someone who has used iOS as my primary device for the last three years, I have often relied on the Delivery Status app to do the dirty work for me. There's a free OS X widget where I can add tracking numbers and have them sync to my iPhone and iPad, and then receive push alerts as the package takes its journey. But this setup had one major flaw: me. In order for the package to be tracked I have to manually enter a tracking number into one of the apps, and I didn't always do that.
Since I started using Android more and more over the last year, I have been constantly looking for a package tracking solution that at least matched the setup I was using on iOS; even with its flaw. What I ended up finding -- finally -- was a better solution.
The first thing you'll need to do to make all of this work is sign up for FedEx Delivery Manager and UPS My Choice. Both services will provide you with delivery options, better control over incoming packages and (most importantly) alerts of incoming packages, complete with tracking numbers. When you set up either account, which are free for basic users, make sure you use e-mail alerts instead of text message alerts.
The next piece of this puzzle is a package-tracking app on your Android device. In the past I had tried Boxoh combined with IFTTT and Pushover, but this solution took way more effort than I wanted to put into tracking a package. Instead, head over to the Play store and download the Pro version of Package Buddy. It'll set you back roughly $2, but it's well worth it.
The Pro version provides you with one critical feature -- the ability to forward delivery e-mails to the service and have them automatically added to your account. You'll need to sign up for a Package Buddy account and add your e-mail address(es) to the service so it knows what account to tie to the incoming messages.
Once you've installed the app, set up an account, added your e-mail addresses and logged into your account on the app you're all ready to go. The next time you receive an incoming package alert, be it from a vendor or the carrier itself, you simply forward the message to firstname.lastname@example.org and let the service do the work for you. If you'd rather eliminate this step, you can always assign labels (assuming you're using Gmail) for the FedEx and UPS alerts and have IFTTT forward the e-mails for you. Or set up your own filters and have the messages forwarded if you're using a different e-mail provider.
Once a package has been added through e-mail, you should receive a confirmation message back indicating it was successful. I have found that I don't receive e-mails back when forwarding a FedEx e-mail, but it's still added to the app. A few minutes after forwarding a message, refresh the app to see if it was added. If you're running into issues, contact support to help them iron it out.
Of course, the Package Buddy app has all of the features you'd expect from a package tracking app: background updates at an interval of your choosing, a long list of supported carriers, bar code scanning, sorting by ETA, multiple themes and more. It's the complete package, pun fully intended.
Hopefully you find this setup as efficient as I have. Yes, it still requires action on my part (sometimes) to get a tracking number into the app, but two or three taps to forward an e-mail compared with copying and pasting a tracking number after navigating multiple screens and apps, is a lot less work.