Technology-Headlines

by George Heymann

Review: Package Tracking 2.0, package tracking done right!

by George Heymann

techeadlines@gmail.com

If you need a quick easy way to track your packages or shipments, have I got a deal for you! Package Tracking 2.0 is an excellent free tracking application for Android developed by Zachary Cava (Technogeek00).

The application is simple to use, select a shipping company, enter your tracking number and hit track. Your tracking information, if available from the carrier will be available in an easy to read format. The tracking information is presented in two tabs, “details” and “progress”. The details screen displays the current status of the package you are tracking. The progress tab lists all of the shipping details to date, including the current status.

Shipping Tracking 2.0 also has an optional web component that allows you to enter the package details online and then sync the data with the Android app. The web service enables anyone with an Internet connection to utilize the excellent service.

On the Android side, once you enter your tracking information you will receive a notification anytime the package tracking information is updated by the carrier. The system works remarkably well, this weekend I was tracking a Fedex shipment. I received a notification from Shipping Tracking 2.0 that the package had been delivered although I never heard the doorbell ring, I was able to get to the front of the house and retrieve my package off of the porch before the Fedex driver made his way back to the truck, amazing!

I asked Zachary to share a little background about himself and his package tracking application.

Zachary is full-time student, currently a junior at the University of Washington (Seattle Campus). He plans to major in Computer Science and Mathematics and has been programming since he was 12 years old.

“Currently I am mainly programming in Java but am beginning to learn Assembly for some side-projects I have started to form.

As for Package Tracking, it started back in 2007 on the now defunct Google Desktop. It was a very simple application that supported only Fed-Ex, UPS, and the US Postal Service, and all it did was load the tracking pages on your desktop so you would not have to go through the company’s website. It was very crude and written in javascript and xml, if I remember correctly. (see screen_1.jpg). Eventually I re-wrote the application to include many more companies and to parse the data into a simple to read table, and that version ran on its own for a very long time even after I discontinued support to focus on other projects. That’s not to say I stopped working on Package Tracking, just the Desktop version of it, because let’s face it, it was easy to navigate companies pages with a mouse and keyboard so the application really did not make that big of difference.

Then one day I get an email from the Google Legal department, it seems UPS had filed an injunction against my application. They claimed I was using their logo to get people to think I was them, even though a disclaimer was right on the home screen saying I was not a shipping company and all logos were their sole property. Anyhow, I was a high school senior and could not afford to battle them so Package Tracking was taken off the Android Market.

Luckily, this happened just as my summer break was starting after my senior year in high school and I figured since I was transitioning to a new level; why not bring Package Tracking to a new level. 2 months later the rough version of Package Tracking 2.0 was completed, now all processing was done on the phone so that the servers were no longer needed (Bandwidth is not cheap and the original android version was generating over 10GB a month). The next month was spent tweaking different pieces to get the best user experience and in the end, I think it has worked very well, but I am always looking for new ways to make it run better.

A small joke in the application is the logo used to represent UPS, which is a black square with the words redacted; I had to put something since I cannot use their logo. The web-sync feature was fun to write because I have to manage to separate entities of data and make sure they both stay up to date whether the user uses a computer or their phone to enter or edit the information. Future updates will be coming for a long time and I will continue to add features as I can think of them or as people suggest them. It is all a learning experience, so whether a feature rocks or flops, it does not matter to me, I am just in this for the fun of programming.”

I’ve been a user of Package Tracking through several app revisions, the latest update with the addition of the web sync service is icing on the cake to an already excellent application and service.

My only suggestion for improvement would be to be able add packages to the tracking list directly from the menu. Currently when you want to add a package you type the details over the last package tracked on the start screen when the application is started.

All of the previous tracking searches are saved when you hit track but that is not obvious to the user ( at least it was not obvious to me) when I first started using the program. To check on previous tracked packages just click on “use previous number” and select a tracking number from the menu of previously tracked items.

The program also includes a “name your package” field, making it easy to differentiate packages with a quick glance without having to reference the tracking numbers. The Android application and web service are currently free. I hope Zachary considers adding a Paypal link for users who wish to support  his development efforts.

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Filed under: Android, General technology, Google, Review, Services, Software, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

5 Responses

  1. sailrish says:

    Yes this is an excellent application much needed on the Android platform. There are several new comers out there though, promising a lot more features. Shiprack for Android allows you to add tracking numbers by sending an email, for instance.

  2. […] you would like to learn more about Package Tracking see our review and mini-developer profile here: Package Tracking 2.0, package tracking done right! LD_AddCustomAttr("AdOpt", "1"); LD_AddCustomAttr("Origin", "other"); […]

  3. Hammad Ali Khan says:

    hey gheymann why don’t u try Shipment tracking application on: http://www.pakcustoms.org/shipment_tracking/index.htm
    i am an exporter & i also tried several other shipping tracking apps but hadn’t seen Shiprack like this before

    • gheymann says:

      Hi Hammad,

      Thanks for the suggestion, I prefer a solution that has both a web and a mobile app component. I have however left your link in tact for others that wish to try an alternate web solution. Thanks for reading.

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