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Pain-free parking apps give you one less thing to whine about

Amber Bouman | Aug. 22, 2013
If a free app can save you from getting a parking ticket, or wasting gas while hunting for a space, you better believe it's worth a download.

Parkopedia—iOS, Android, Windows Phone 8 ($2, Free, $2.50, respectively)
Windows users, I haven't forgotten about you or your candy-colorful Nokia and HTC handsets! Parkopedia, intended to be the parking spot version of Wikipedia, is available for all three smartphone OSes. Parkopedia's goal is to map and list every parking space in the world, so...they're going to be pretty busy for a while.

So far, they've managed to cover more than 25 million spaces in 28 countries, thanks at least in part to information contributed from drivers. If you're somehow in an area that isn't yet covered, they encourage you to send an email so they can keep you updated on their progress—or take matters into your own hands and add the space yourself by uploading a photo of a parking sign or price list.

Upon opening the app, you're greeted with a simple search bar where you can enter in your location (or leave blank to default to your current location), and a big, red Find Parking button. Results appear in the Recents tab, in list form. Along the top navigation bar are options for Filter and Map view; results can be filtered by lots vs street parking, toggling to display height restrictions, and features such as electric car charging, covered, motorcycle spaces, disabled spaces, free, park and ride, and accepts credit cards.

Results in list form display the name of the lot or street location as well as the distance from you, the rate, and a rating out of five stars. Tapping on a result, either in list or in map view, will take you to a profile page for that result. Information in each parking profile page includes address, directions, a photo, and a phone number in addition to information on type of parking, features, payment options, number of spaces, hours of operation, and pricing info.

Parking Panda—iOS, Android (Free)
If you'd prefer to pay for parking within an app as well, give Parking Panda a shot—the app works with over 1.3 million parking spaces in over 12,000 garages, lots, and private spaces in 73 cities. So...that's a lot of coverage.

You can use the app to find, reserve, and pay for parking in real time, something that's particularly handy for big events, like concerts and sports. This will, of course, require you to input your credit card information, but Parking Panda assures customers their parking purchases are safely and securely handled through the app. Additionally, the app will allow you to access confirmation of your spot, which you can use to show to parking attendants on your way out of the garage.

It works like this: Upon opening the app you're presented with a search screen. At the top is a blue banner you can tap to default to parking near your GPS location, below that is a search box you can use to enter in other locations. There are fields to enter in a start and end date, but the app only offers two kinds of parking: daily or monthly. That's not really convenient if you're looking for hourly parking, but since there are several other apps that handle that, it seems fair that one should focus on longer-term needs.


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