Google Doing What it Can to Help You Find a Parking Spot


If you’re a city dweller such as myself, you know I can’t stress enough the frustration of searching out a parking spot, or — worse yet — admitting defeat and forking over unspeakable sums of money to plant your wheels for a few hours. My best bit of advice for you: get a bike. But if that doesn’t float your boat, Google Labs just launched a helpful Android app that could make finding that coveted spot so much easier.


Open Spot is simple in concept. When leaving your primo parking space that you spent thirty minutes hunting down if you feel so kind you can place a pin on a map identifying where the open space now remains. Other users looking for a place to park can see all available open spaces on the same map, color coded to show how long it has been since the spot was first left open. Is a feeling of self-righteousness and charity not enough to get you to mark your old spots? Google has added in a “karma” points system to up the value of playing along. How exactly these karma points benefit you in anyway is unknown. They sure as heck don’t unlock better parking spaces.

While the app is in its infancy you probably aren’t very likely to see many labeled spots on the map, but don’t let that discourage you. The more people who join in on Open Spot the better chances there are of it becoming a great solution to an irritating problem. Of course you have to wonder how accurately marked the spaces are considering GPS does have room for error, as well as people not using Open Spot who happened to scope out the space before you. Will this app eliminate parking frustration? Doubtful, but it will at least give you something to do while looking for that space. Check it out at the Google Labs page now.

[via ReadWriteWeb.

Kevin Krause
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  1. I’m skeptical that this will actually work. If parking spots are so hard to find in your area, it will be gone long before someone will notice the pin and be able to get there. Points for trying, though.

  2. good idea. stupid in execution.

  3. Got mine to use in Seattle. Lets all give this a try and see how it works.

  4. Great concept… can’t hate on them for trying it out! I am gonna give it a go!

  5. Next stop, wireless parking meters that automatically update the open spots map. Mark me!

  6. IT has great potential… the more users to interact with the app will lead to it’s success, or failure. Looks real good though, I hope it takes off and succeeds. :)

  7. Wow this is the stupidest program ever created

  8. This would have been time better spend if they made a simple app to find your car after you’ve left it. There have been times coming out of a large sports venue or mall that I have NO freaking clue where the car is (or was).

  9. can’t find it on android 1.6

  10. There are plenty of apps to find your car, McHale. This parking idea will probably fail though since you need everyone to participate.

  11. they should have it so you post up in real time when you’re about to leave. then if another android user is around you they can link up to you. wait there until they show up (as long as they’re close) and then exit when they show up. when someone else actually gets your spot then you should get karma points. i would do that to help android users as long as they were in the immediate area. and if you’re in a saturated spot they’ll always be super close.

  12. Get yourself two android phones, keep one in the car alltimes, run one of the antiteft app, and just report it stolen when you can’t find your car. :-)

  13. @ #8 – Why not get Carrr Matey? Drop your anchor, then you’ll always know where you’re parked… I kinda appreciate that they’re trying something new here, instead of tapping in to things that have been done, and one very well… like with Carrr Matey.

  14. good idea :)

  15. They also believed the communism would work…

  16. How is this the stupidest idea ever? I think you’re stupid for not realizing there already is an app to find your car where you left it. This is clever and a nice idea to open up other creative ideas.

  17. @McHale – Actually, Google already makes a great app for just that. It’s called Google Maps :p

  18. Great. Now the idiots who wander across the street while texting get to “meet” the idiots who drive while staring at a map on their cell phone. This app should be eligible for a Darwin Award.

  19. I like this idea: Android users banding together to help each other find parking spots. It seems doubtful that it could actually work in practice, but I’m still up for trying it!

  20. this will be another Google Wave… used by no one

  21. Cool idea, but there will never be enough Android users using this for it to be useful.

  22. Wave was stupid but this idea can work. sure it’s not that accurate but it gives a general idea on the street or cross-street for a parking spot.

  23. another google wave that no one will use? how about if it does work, it’s a blessing for us in nyc or any other metro area in the first place.

    it’s an excellent idea, i like the karma points idea so it will encourage others to do the same. this can be fantastic. we’ll see if they will open this app to other phone platforms to increase its usability.

    however this is a testing face, so f off to all the haters

  24. Do you idiots who support this actually believe a parking spot is going to be available only for you?

  25. The developer will probably get sued by some moron looking at his phone while driving

  26. Great idea but it is bound to fail simply due to the fact that not everyone has a cell phone, not every cell phone user has a smartphone and not every smart phone user is on Android. Just to narrow it down even more, most people wont even bother. I would love for something like this to work but I just don’t see it happening.

  27. Great idea! Live in Fort Lauderdale and DREAD trips to Miami for this very reason. My last trip there had me staring at my N1 desperately for an answer. Hopefully this is it!

  28. This app will probably be about as useful as a solar-powered flashlight or a heat-activated furnace…in other words, it will work perfectly fine under conditions when you least need it, and never when you could really use it.

    That is, of course, assuming you get a large enough network of people to participate.

    I predict this app dies within six months.

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