New Google Maps Feature Tells You How Hard It Is to Find Parking at Your Destination

A "P" icon will appear for Android users using the app, indicating parking availability.

Willian Avila/Google Maps

A new feature on a beta version of Google Maps has arrived for Android users looking for parking in traffic-congested areas.

Whether heading to Long Beach or downtown Los Angeles, drivers using v9.44 of Google Maps on an Android phone will now see a small "P" symbol next to the time and distance of their final destination. The P will either appear in blue, if there are "Easy" or "Medium" amounts of parking spaces available, or red if spots are "Limited."

As users are driving, they can expand their directions information on Google Maps for more detailed information on the area's parking situation.

The feature will emerge when drivers are heading to public places such as stadiums, restaurants and airports, among others, according to Google.

An essential component of the new feature is that traffic volume will not be updated in real-time — it will just serve as a sign of how difficult it may be on average to find parking. In a blog announcing the feature, Google said parking difficulties are based on "historical parking data."

The company has rolled out the parking feature in 25 U.S. metros, including: San 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, DC, Cleveland, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Houston, Phoenix, Portland and Sacramento.

We downloaded the v9.44 beta to a Samsung Galaxy phone in Studio City and parking information showed up for general destinations like downtown Los Angeles and Long Beach, but also more specific ones like the Staples Center. A blue P icon appeared next to the estimated time and distance for Long Beach, while a red P icon popped up for downtown. The Staples Center also had a red P symbol.

Google Maps' communications manager, Elizabeth Davidoff, confirmed to NBC4 that the feature is not yet available on iOS devices, so for now an Android device is necessary.

For packed cities like LA, cutting down on traffic is key. According to a 2012 parking study, about 30 percent of traffic comes from drivers looking for parking. With the help of this new feature, congestion from drivers roaming around a sports arena looking for parking, is expected to be cut down.

Other apps helping drivers looking for parking include SpotHero and Parker. SpotHero allows users to pay for spots available in garages and valet lots. While Parker is designed as an Airbnb for parking, where drivers can find in real-time parking spaces that are available in residents' garages and driveways. It shows pricing information for the spaces, but they cannot be purchased through the app.

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