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Amazon’s Package X-Ray Lets You Peek Inside Boxes

In this modern world, it’s all too common to be inundated with nondescript cardboard boxes arriving from Amazon in the weeks leading up to the holiday gift-giving season. Typically, I cut the boxes open, see what’s inside, and seal them back up before wrapping and labeling them. But Amazon has introduced a brilliant new feature to the Amazon iOS app: Package X-Ray, which lets you peek inside unopened packages from the company. Unfortunately, it only works in the United States for now.

To use it, open the Amazon app (make sure you’re logged in), tap the camera icon, and then quickly tap Package X-Ray. By default, the camera tries to identify objects and search for them on Amazon; it does this quickly, so you may have to swipe down on those search results to switch to Package X-Ray.

Once you’re in Package X-Ray mode, scan the shipping label on an unopened Amazon box, and a bubble should appear showing a thumbnail of the item inside. If the package contains multiple items, you’ll see a bubble for each. Tap a bubble to go to the product listing.

There are a few small caveats. First, Package X-Ray won’t work if you’ve split the shipping label by opening the package, even if you press it back together — but if it’s already open, you don’t need the feature anyway.

Second, Package X-Ray works only with packages tied to your Amazon account, so no curious children, spouses, or delivery people can spy on what you’ve bought. That also means you won’t be able to identify what’s in boxes sent to you — even when that would be entirely appropriate — by relatives who are shipping gifts directly to your address in advance of their holiday visits.

Those who do a lot of gift shopping on Amazon may find Package X-Ray helpful. Whether or not you would wrap an unopened box like me, it’s still handy to be able to peek inside an otherwise unidentifiable box without having to open it first.


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Comments about Amazon’s Package X-Ray Lets You Peek Inside Boxes
(Comments are closed.)

TRACY YOUNG  2016-12-05 14:48
Seems like this would be most handy for thieves.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2016-12-05 14:55
No, as the article says, you can only scan packages that you've bought, not just any Amazon box.
NaplesJerry  2016-12-05 16:01
Unlike Josh, I let Amazon ship to my gift receivers. But I do like the concept
Shows that Amazon has lots of creative people

I'd like, however, a way to see if my brother-in-law is again sending us his version (for 2016) of a fruitcake so I could regift to local soup kitchen to use as thickener

zimmie  2016-12-05 21:55
Jerry, you need to bring the fruitcake to Manitou Springs, Colorado for the annual fruitcake toss!
Josh Centers  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2016-12-06 10:27
Send it to me. I love fruitcake.
zimmie  2016-12-05 21:54
This "feature" reminds me of my late father, a physician who had an X-Ray/Flourescope machine in his office. On multiple occasions he would Flourescope a package to see what was inside, claiming this wasn't cheating because he hadn't opened the package before Christmas.
Wagner  2016-12-05 23:26
I just tried it on a package I received yesterday but which I haven't opened yet. Doesn't work at all and I think it's because this might be a feature of only the US version of the app or the Amazon store. I currently reside in the UK.
Josh Centers  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2016-12-06 10:28
Yeah, I'm afraid it's U.S. only. I've added a note to the article.
Dennis B. Swaney  2016-12-06 00:32
Totally useless feature. Just track your order on Amazon or the shipping service websites. Amazon's will tell you what is in the order and you can use that to annotate the tracking on the shipping service site.
Mike Penny  2016-12-07 11:24
Doesn't work in the UK