Consumer News

Google Maps Tests Parking Feature

Admit it. There were times that you actually stayed home instead of going out due to the fact that you knew it would take far too long to find a spot in that neighborhood.

Drivers take chances on parking whenever they are heading to a busy area, and, for the most part, the act of finding a spot lays far too much stress upon us. A shift is being made, though, as Google Maps recently announced that they are currently testing a new feature intended to alert users to potential parking problems.

The popular Android News website/forum, Android Police, reports that some users of Google Maps’ latest version – currently only in beta – are able to find out how hard it will be to find somewhere to park.

The Maps feature doesn’t seem to provide granular information though, such as where you would actually find a spot, or if you’ll have to pay for parking. Instead, if you’re heading to an area with limited parking opportunities, you’d see a big “P” in a red circle with a message stating “Parking is usually limited near this destination.” If parking is less problematic in that area, the app will describe availability as “medium” or “easy.”

Beta testers have told Android Police that it looks like the feature currently only appears to apply to larger destinations like airports and shopping centers, and that it is unclear how the company garners its parking information, and if it is available for the entire country or just high traffic areas.

The Consumerist reminds us that this isn’t the first time Google has jumped into the “parking game.” Back in September, Google’s traffic app, Waze, added a feature to assist drivers in finding where they could park once arriving at their destination.

Personally, I think this is a phenomenal idea. Upon getting this right, Google has the potential to change the driving game more than EZ Pass ever dreamed of. Granted, they’d never truly be able to tell you exactly where to park, but perfecting this can save you so much time circling the block, trailing people out of stores, etc.

In a perfect world, the function would almost serve as a redistribution for parking spots. This, of course, is only an idea, but if Google happens to stumble upon this article, they’re more than welcome to take it off my hands.

Take a busy downtown area, for instance. The surrounding parking can be broken down into 5-6 zones. These zones would of course house cars as their drivers were spending their mornings, evenings, or afternoons out, while the app would act almost as a traffic attendant – filling up one zone before moving onto the next.

In a perfect world, the 1st zone will begin to empty as the 3rd or 4th starts to get filled in, enabling the app to direct newcomers to the 4th and 5th final zones, before restarting and directing drivers back to the 1st.

It’s flawed, I know. But how incredible would it be if a free app told you where to park? I highly doubt people would mind walking an extra two blocks if they already saved 20 minutes by just simply listening to their cell phones. It’s not until after you’ve circled the block 5-6 times with zero success that you begin to get cranky.

You’re on to something here, Google.

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