Parking a car on a residential street in a large city can be a pain in the behind. I used to live in a neighborhood where I had a residential parking permit allowing me to park on my street any time of the day or night, but I still often spend 15 or 20 minutes looking for a spot within 4 blocks of my home. I don’t own a car anymore, but if you feel my (past) pain, Google has just launched an Android app that could help.

Google Open Spot is an Android app that pulls up a map of your current location. Open parking spots will be marked with dots.

How does Google know which spots are open? Because other users are supposed to fire up the app on their phones and “mark a spot” when they leave that parking space.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that someone who doesn’t happen to use Open Spot won’t have come along and parked in that spot after that good Samaritan left. But Open Spot color codes the dots, so that spots that were marked just a few minutes ago are bright red while older spots are yellow. After 20 minutes, Open Spot assumes someone probably took the space and removes the spot altogether.

I have to say, I like the idea. But unless a whole lot of people play along, I can’t really see Open Spot making it much easier to find parking spaces on busy city streets.

Brad Linder

Brad Linder is editor of Liliputing and Mobiputing. He's been tinkering with mobile tech for decades and writing about it since...