If you drive anywhere, ever, you've likely bemoaned the horrible state of parking at least once in your life (and probably more times, to be honest). That's why it's so cool that Google Maps can help you find parking through a brand new feature. That's right: If you use Google Maps to find the best route to wherever you're driving, you can now use it to get an idea of what the parking situation will be like upon your arrival, too. Because we all know that even if we're only going a short distance, if parking is tight, we definitely need to factor in more travel time.
So, how does the feature work? There are a few requirements first: As of right now, it's only available for Android users via Google Maps for Android; additionally, only select cities have access. In the United States, those cities are: Francisco, Seattle, Miami, Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York City, Orlando, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Diego, St. Louis, Tampa, Washington D.C., Cleveland, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Houston, Phoenix, Portland, and Sacramento. According to Google, the feature uses "historical" data to predict parking difficulty.
Personally, I am based in D.C., so I decided to test the new features with directions between two popular DC spots: The Air & Space Museum and the National Zoo. See how simple the process is for Android users below — and if you're an iOS user, be on the lookout for the feature in your app soon! According to TechCrunch, it should be available to all users within the next few months.
1Update Google Maps
You can access Google Maps either by the icon on your homescreen, or by going into the Google Play store. My app already had the feature enabled, but you can also make sure you're up to date within the Play store. If you are, you can simply tap on "Maps" and hit "Open."
2Enter Your Location and Destination
Enter your starting point and your destination, just as you would to get regular driving directions.
3Make Sure You're Under "Driving" Directions
This might sound obvious, but the parking prediction only works if you select the "driving" option. As you can see above, I selected "walking" directions and there is no indication of parking; this is good to keep in mind if you're meeting someone who may be parking a car, or if you're considering getting a ride while on your journey.
4Notice the "P" Label
Once you expand your directions, you can see that the "P" suggests that parking tends to be limited in this area. (And if you've ever been to the National Mall to check out the Smithsonian museums, you know this is absolutely true.)
5Double Check Parking For Your Trip Home
By simply putting your directions in "reverse," the map will automatically update to tell you the state of parking in the direction you're going back to. Easy, right?