Deep from the inner sanctum of Google Labs comes a brand new gem called Open Spot.
I can’t speak for your place of residence, but trying to navigate downtown Athens is a nightmare most of the time. There’s not enough parking for everyone on the street, and no one really wants to pay for the deck, so it’s not uncommon for people to drive around aimlessly looking for a parking spot. Which, I might add, is not a good situation to be in when there’s a no cruising policy in effect (silly po po).
So, if you’re an Android owner and I’ve peaked your interest in the practicality of this app, let me give you a rundown of what you can expect when you download it. More after the jump.
Essentially, idea is that when an Open Spot user is getting ready to pull out of a parking spot (not actually moving though, less you be mistaken for texting) they will press a button that says “Mark a Spot.” At that time, all other Open Spot users who are looking for a place to park will see a dot pop up on their screen. In theory, you could also use this if you’re walking around and happen to see an open spot that you want to mark. And, when you report spots your karma goes up. Yay!
The dots are color coded by how old they are, and there’s always the possibility that someone will beat you to the spot without your knowledge as there’s no way to report that you’ve taken a spot that was on the map. But all in all, I foresee this app increasing the frequency of the luck it requires to find a parking spot in downtown Athens, if enough people participate.
What I would like to see is a version of this application appear for the iPhone. I will admit that I doubt that will happen because, in my opinion and based off what I’ve read, Steve Jobs seems to hate Google’s apps as they refuse to approve them for the app store for highly ambiguous and silly reasons (if you’re not smart enough to tell the difference between Latitude and Maps, you shouldn’t own an iPhone… just saying). But, if Open Spot made it to the iPhone then I think the app would catch on like wildfire.
So, to summarize, I believe the limiting factors are going to be:
- The number of people using Android 2.0 Phones (which is increasing) - This app will not work with phones that do not yet have version 2.0 of Android. Older Android users, you either need to root your device or buy a new one if you want to participate.
- The awareness about the app (which I’m trying to help with).
As usual, Google has come up with a completely novel concept for improving something that we do every day. After playing around with it for a few minutes (which unfortunately wasn’t very interesting at 11 in the morning) I could already tell that it was a pretty cool app. I’ve gotta give props to Google for their cleverness on this one.
Although, there are some suggestions that I have for them (and if any of you Google-employees are out there reading this, I’d love to hear from you to know if any of these are a work-in-progress). These are:
- There needs to be some sort of way to encourage people to report that they are leaving a spot. A rewards system of sorts? Maybe something as simple as the 4Square badges. I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m not really motivated by a karma number.
- It would be nice if there were a widget you could place on your desktop so that, without seeing the full map or opening the app, you could report a spot on the fly.
- Releasing the API to the public would be great so that: 1. Someone could develop apps for other platforms that can find parking.
- Someone could develop an iPhone app that wouldn’t set off Jobs’s Googledar that causes the App Store Nazis to ban all things Google.
These are my humble suggestions. What do you guys think? Would you use an app like this to help you find parking if it was widely used? Let me know in the comments!