The perils of parking go beyond mere annoyance. Parking can be expensive and going overtime can rack up extra fees. We've rounded up five apps that make parking less of an ordeal than it often is. Each of the best parking apps includes a car locator so you don't have to remember where you parked, a function that finds available parking locations (usually in a garage or lot), and some type of unique function, such as facilitating payments and/or reservations.
Parkmobile wowed us with its expansive feature set, including a payment system that lets you pay for meters, time extensions, and other services from your smartphone. It sends reminders that your time is about up, and comes with a car locator and GPS service. Recent additions to Parkmobile's functionality show charging locations for electric cars, coming-soon locations, and venues that accept PayPal. On the downside, Parkmobile only works with specific parking sites, and these are displayed on a map on your phone or with a physical sign/sticker at the location. This best parking app has garnered average scores of 4 or more in reviews by several thousand users posted at the Android and iTunes stores.
SpotHero is a parking app newcomer with lots to offer, as evidenced both by the relatively small number of reviews but the very high average scores. One exclusive feature, a parking-spot reservation system, compensates for the outdated parking locations and space availability notifications that surface on other parking apps. With SpotHero you can guarantee a spot on a daily/hourly or monthly basis by paying in advance through the app. Currently, SpotHero is operative in a few large cities, such as Chicago, New York, and Boston, and close-in communities; plans are afoot to widen the service net.
ParkMe is one of the better parking and car locator apps, but bested by the two above due to their exclusive features. Still, it stands out partly because users seem to like it -- the app's average ratingis above average. ParkMe lacks a payment function but it does have a reservation system. And its database is impressive: more than 28,000 locations spread across 1,800 cities and seven (!) continents. Features include maps of garages and parking lots, with data on availability and rates, and a timer that signals when paid time has ended. ParkMe relies on Google Maps API, which boosts the size of the database but, according to reviewers, often provides inaccurate information on availability and rates.
Parkopedia is a simple parking app with a massive database of 28 million parking spaces (including garages in private homes) spread around more than 40 countries. While it lacks fancy bells or whistles, Parkopedia makes the grade with its unrivaled database. Features include GPS directions to the parking site, real-time availability that gets a nod from users for accuracy, and details such as garage hours, rates, and payment methods; filtering options are plentiful. The total number of reviews is relatively small, and its lackluster average score on iTunes largely reflect anecdotes rather than general critiques of the app. At the time of this posting, Parkopedia was on the shortlist for the Best Telematics Content Aggregator Award.
5. Car Locator.
We added Car Locator to our list of best parking apps due to its high user rating and large user base but placed it last because it costs $3.99 and is little more than a car locator -- a function at which it excels. Reviewers report that the included car radar is very accurate, and they like the parking timer, home screen widget, and the ability to save locations. Car Locator also features a sharing function that works with other users of the app and tells them where you are or where to find parking. There is no iTunes version of this app.
|Payment system featured with select locations. Can extend parking time with app and use Paypal in certain locations.
|Parking reservation system through mobile app. Limited locations for now but is expanding.
|Reservation system but also a large database of parking locations, rates, parking timer, and real-time data on locations.
|Over 28 million locations - a massive database that far surpasses all other apps. Functionality limited to search and navigation.
|Purely a car locator app. Radar, GPS, location-saving. Can send location information to other app users.