For a few months now, drivers in 25 U.S. cities have had access to a Google Maps “Parking Difficulty” rating on their smartphones. As of today, the feature has been expanded to an additional 25 major cities in other countries — Canadian cities being the most useful among them for American drivers.
If you haven’t seen this feature, it’s pretty simple: Plot a route, and at the bottom of your screen, you’ll see a rating, as shown above. The ratings are “limited,” “medium” or “easy.” The message is simple: If you draw a “limited” rating, you’d better leave early and allow more time to find a spot.
The rating is determined through historical data and the usual unnamed Google juice. (Though in Google’s example above, anyone who has ever driven in gridlocked downtown Seattle knows from personal historical data that parking around Westlake Center is “limited” to put it mildly.)
The task of finding a spot is made easier by another feature out today, Google’s new “Find Parking” feature. It lets you browse streets, lots and garages near your destination, on a map that shows estimated walking time from them to where you’re going. You can choose a location and plot a course, then the directions will switch to walking mode to get you the rest of the way.
The “Find Parking” feature is only offered in these cities: Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas/Fort Worth, DC, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York City, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland, San Diego, Sacramento, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis and Tampa.
The Parking Difficulty rating is available on Android and Apple. Find Parking is, for now, only available on Android.
Here are the added cities for the Parking Difficulty rating:
Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Prague, Czech Republic
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Sao Paulo, Brazil
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Vancouver, B.C., Canada