Google Maps for Android started displaying parking availability information in metro areas for 25 cities throughout the US in January this year.
Parking availability was determined to be either 'Easy', 'Medium', or 'Limited', based on historical parking data collected by Google. Now, in a teardown of the latest Google Maps beta v9.51 by Android Police, that feature seems to be getting an upgrade.
With the latest update, Google has added an 'On-site' level, informing drivers whether their destination has parking, or if they would have to search for a parking spot nearby. It also shows if the parking is free or paid, but does not include the actual cost if it's the latter.
The information is still extrapolated from historical data, so real-time parking availability is still a goal to look forward to. However, this subtle hint will surely help the average city dweller, who typically dedicates about four days of a year looking for parking space, per a recent study by the British Parking Association.
In addition to that, Android Police also found a bunch of strings hinting towards some interesting upcoming features.
The first set of strings suggests that Google Maps would offer users an option to add a parking spot near their destination to their route. After parking the vehicle, Maps would either show walking directions or other means of travel, leading to the destination.
The second feature is only backed by a single string and relies on the enormous amounts of data collected by Google about city traffic and its density. Since information about this feature is scarce, not much is clear, but it appears that Google would estimate the traffic density on a route using historical data, and display it as a chart.
These two features are mere speculation based on the strings found by Android Police in the teardown; regardless of how convincing they may sound, plans can change, and there is no guarantee that we would see these two features anytime soon.
Google wants to make cities smarter, and its co-founder, Larry Page, has dedicated an entire startup to the mission of “improving city life for everyone”. A smart city relies on data collected and logged by every function of the city – data that Google can use in its products, and increase the value of its services. Helping motorists with parking may just be the beginning of what’s to come.