Boxes 2 review: Organizer iPhone app is like a Facebook for pack rats
By J.R. Bookwalter
At a glance
I’m a bit of a hoarder when it comes to old toys, books, comics, and other collectibles from my childhood, which are now piled up in boxes around the house. Just thinking about getting organized or creating an inventory makes me sleepy, not to mention the extra time and effort required to sell things I no longer want.
If you likewise can’t seem to get your stuff together, there’s a great iPhone app I recommend that makes the process fun and allows you to carry around closets or even entire apartments or houses full of memories in the palm of your hand.
It’s your thing
Boxes 2 provides a virtual “place for your stuff” where real-world objects can be photographed, cataloged, and stored into private or public “boxes” in the cloud. Although the app is free, a $10 annual subscription is required to use Premium features like unlimited storage, adding receipts, custom image filters, or custom profile backgrounds.
The developer offers a pretty sweet loophole to get around this, however: Invite 20 or more friends to try Boxes, and receive a complimentary lifetime subscription in return—even if your deadbeat pals don’t actually sign up. It’s worth it for unlimited storage alone, but the Premium features really tie the whole app together.
I cracked open dusty old cardboard boxes filled with my misspent youth and started adding comic books, magazines, books, and more. It’s a fairly painless process, although there was consistently a delay of several seconds before I could take the first photo of a new item on my iPhone 6 Plus, which began to tax my patience after awhile (subsequent photos are much faster).
New items require at least one photo, title, and box assignment; private details can also be added including quantity, notes, purchase date/price, serial numbers, and unique IDs of your own creation. Although you can scan UPC barcodes, they’re for reference only—I’d love to see Boxes tap into a rich online database like Amazon for automatically adding complete product details with a single scan.
What makes Boxes unique from other cloud depositories like Evernote is the social component: Users can like, comment, or add items to personal wish lists—it’s kind of like Facebook for pack rats. I was initially skeptical about this aspect of the app, but soon found myself engaging with other users over shared interests. (Listings can also be posted to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram as they’re added, should you prefer.)
Boxes also happens to be a capable eBay alternative: At any time, you can toggle a switch to start selling individual items from the app, or securely make purchases from others with the built-in safety of a buyer guarantee. I didn’t wind up making any sales during testing, but purchasing requires little more than a credit or debit card; the developers will soon introduce new payment options including Apple Pay and PayPal.
I had enough fun with Boxes that I found myself wanting to post more stuff each day, both to get organized and share with others. Users can also log into a web portal to view their accounts or leave comments, but sadly there’s currently no way to edit listings or add further details from the desktop.
Aside from the app being a bit sluggish at times, I was disappointed to discover there’s no way to crop photos after they’re taken, nor is Boxes a universal build with native iPad support. Otherwise, Boxes is a very capable app with a safe, inviting atmosphere for both collectors and budding entrepreneurs.
Boxes 2 is a great way to get organized, engage with others who share similar passions, and maybe even make a few bucks in the process.