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.