Google Maps can already tell users how difficult it would be to find a parking spot in a given area. That "parking difficulty" feature was added back in January. While useful, it was only available in 25 U.S. cities.
But now, Google has expanded it to 25 more cities worldwide, including London, Manchester, Prague, and even Stockholm.
To use it, simply type in your destination to get directions. The parking difficulty icon should appear in the directions card at the bottom of the screen. There are three categories: limited, medium, and easy. Google explains in its blog post that the app determines whether finding a parking spot in a certain area is difficult through a combination of historical parking data and "machine learning magic." It explains more about the underlying technology in a separate, more geeky blog post.
Find Parking Spots With Google Maps
Google has also introduced a new "find parking" feature. To access this, simply tap on the card with the parking difficulty icon. There, you can browse other streets and parking facilities. A small map will show their locations, address, and estimated walk time. If you spot a good location, you can choose to "add parking" and start the trip. Once parked, Google Maps will automatically switch to walking directions to help you get to where you're going.
"With parking difficulty icons, the ability to find parking, and save your parking location on the map, Google Maps gets you from point A to point B and everything in between," said Google.
For a list of all the cities where parking difficulty is available in, check out Google's blog post.
Updated Google Maps App Only Available On Android For The Time Being
The feature is currently available in the Android version of Google Maps — for now, at least. Thanks to Google's machine learning magic, the feature will no doubt be rolled out to more cities in the near future. Google didn't mention plans for an iOS release, but that will most likely happen, of course.
The only other features that can make Google Maps extra useful is determining how many parking spots a parking facility still has in real-time and giving the user crucial information such as parking fees and if there were any, late or overnight fees. TechCrunch notes this is something dedicated parking apps in Europe can do, but how hard would it be for Google? It's safe to say these features might come over time.