The New York Times has an interesting article that discusses a new trend in holiday shopping: parking software. Apps to help you manage your shopping experience are nothing new. We’ve seen many major retailers offer apps for iPhone and Android, which let customers keep on eye on sales and specials in their brick and mortar shops, not to mention the obvious online ordering aspects.
Even Google Maps has gotten in on the action by mapping a great many of North America’s shopping centers, letting you orient yourself by the corner of Sears and Macy’s instead of Sycamore and Main.
But it’s only recently that parking apps have started to take off. Options like ParkMe and Parkopedia are letting smartphone users keep track of what garages and parking lots look like, all without having to leave your home or drive around and around, looking for a parking spot.
Some services are even letting you reserve spots in advance, so all you need to do is show up and pull in.
The downside to apps such as these, however, is that they can only work for areas where parking is closely monitored. For most, that means a lot or garage that requires a fee for the privilege of parking there. For malls where parking is free, which is usually the case for large, sprawling, suburban areas, there’s usually a spot somewhere, even if it is out in the great concrete beyond.
It’s not just parking spots that smartphone subscribers are tracking via phone these days – it’s also their cars. Coming in especially handy for those previously mentioned suburban malls, a number of new services help you find your way back to where you parked. While they can often be a lifesaver, especially if you can’t remember which side of the mall you might have parked, be sure to remember that most of these services will only work when you have an Internet connection handy – and may be of little use at all inside of an underground garage.
Have you used your smartphone to check on parking, or even to find your car? Let us know in the comments.