iOS 16 Makes Tracking Online Orders Even Easier

They'll automatically appear in the Wallet app

  • iOS 16 will automatically put orders placed using Apple Pay into the Wallet app, ready to be tracked.
  • Retailers will need to be signed up to support the feature, with Shopify among those already confirmed.
  • iOS 16 is expected to release in September.
Over the shoulder shot of young woman using mobile app on smart phone to arrange package delivery

Oscar Wong / Getty Images

When iOS 16 releases next month, it'll add a new feature that makes it easier than ever to track online orders. And if it works as intended, it has the potential to be pretty great.

First announced by Apple at its WWDC22 event in June, the new order tracking feature automatically adds supported Apple Pay orders to the Wallet app, making them instantly trackable. It's the first time Apple has built such functionality into its software, and it could mean many people no longer need to use third-party apps from the App Store if retailer adoption is strong enough.

"Order tracking in the Wallet app is one of the most underrated iOS 16 features," MacRumors senior news reporter Joe Rossignol told Lifewire via direct message. "But it will be limited to purchases completed with Apple Pay, and it might take a long time for the feature to be widely supported."

A Stealth Hit in the Making

Apple announced a lot of new features and improvements as part of its iOS 16 unveiling on June 6, and most received considerably more attention than order tracking. But in terms of quality of life improvements, it could potentially be one of the biggest.

Order tracking in the Wallet app is one of the most underrated iOS 16 features

That's most likely to be the case if you're someone who places orders online and uses Apple Pay when checking out. Information retained includes the order number, tracking number, and ordered items. You'll also see when the order has been delivered. And because this is Apple, all your orders will be synced via iCloud, so they'll be safe and sound should you need to access them in the future.

In early August, the Shopify, Narvar, and Route platforms were all confirmed for Apple's new order tracking feature, but we can expect that list to grow considerably. "Brands with existing partnerships with Apple like Nike, Hermès, and Walgreens could be among early adopters of the feature," Rossignol notes.

Retailer Support Is Key

Order tracking in iOS 16 will only prove useful if enough retailers support it, however. Apple journalist Benjamin Mayo says he hopes "a lot of merchants adopt" the feature, but he isn't holding his breath that it will happen.

If anyone can make it happen, though,  it’s Apple. With hundreds of millions of compatible iPhone users around the world all placing orders using Apple Pay, retailers are more likely to sign up to be part of the new order tracking feature than they would if this was a smaller venture. Customers could start to demand integration with iOS 16, leaving retailers who don’t sign up in the cold.

The Alternatives Are Weaker Than Ever

The App Store is full of third-party apps that already allow people to plug their courier tracking numbers in and see where their packages are, but they're getting weaker by the day. Case in point, the Deliveries app, a stalwart of the App Store, announced earlier this year that courier support is on the wane. 

"It's likely that over time, more services in Deliveries will no longer show tracking information directly in the app," developer Mike Piontek said in April 2022. "You won't see the delivery date, the map route, or any of the details, and you won't get notifications about changes to the status. You will need to use the 'View Online' button to see your tracking information on the shipping company's website."

Stack of packages on front porch after mail delivery

The Good Brigade / Getty Images

While Apple’s implementation also provides similar links to courier websites, third-party apps no longer have the advantage they might otherwise have been able to boast. In the end, users being able to track their orders is always a net win, but competition helps drive innovation. The App Store’s apps have led to new iOS features, and it’s disappointing to learn that the order tracking apps are struggling.

Placing orders with Apple Pay at supported vendors means most will enjoy the benefits Apple can bring via the Wallet app. For everyone else, it’s the courier’s website or nothing. At least for now.

Was this page helpful?