openspotmap

X marks the Parking Spot – Open Spot – Android App Review

July 19, 2010 - Written By Chris Yackulic

App name: Open Spot by Open Spot Team at Google.

Description: Open Spot helps you find and share available on-street parking spots near you in real-time while respecting your privacy. Start using Open Spot and save time looking for parking, save gas, and reduce pollution.

How it works: Open Spot is an app to help find parking spots on the street.  It is in beta status so all the kinks are still being worked out. It opens to a map of your surrounding area and the coverage area for locating parking spots is approx .9 of a mile.  Anyone who uses the app can designate a spot which will show on the map for 20 minutes.  As the time passes it will change color to show how long it has been available.  Red pins are for fresh spots, orange pins for spots approx 5 minutes old and yellow pins for spots 10 minutes or older.  The map radius will refresh available spots as you move.

This app is relying on users to show open parking spots for other users so it will only be as good as the users who use it. The Google team suggests that if you want to have the app work for you that you return the favor and make sure to mark open spots for other people.  This cause and effect is important to Open Spot.

As an added factor for the app with each spot you mark for someone else you get a Karma point but there isn’t any other mention of how this is used in the app.

Opinion: This is a great idea, but there are several issues with its implementation centered primarily on the human factor: if no one remembers to mark spots this app is virtually useless. I haven’t had any luck finding any spots on maps yet and since I don’t travel downtown much (I live and work in the small suburbs) I don’t have much use for this unless I am traveling downtown. Also it is pretty sparse app right now. There no explanation about the Karma points and the radius is small being just a hair under a mile radius that if I am driving I will pass that fairly quickly.

It is interesting there is no explanation about the Karma points yet, I was only guessing that’s what they are for.  Even the Google page for this is sparse.  I’d say, if you’re going to add something like this, make it a game of who can get the most points and have a way to keep track.

Ratings:

  • Speed (4/5) – The map moves fairly fast as are moving and refreshes pretty fast.
  • Features (2.5/5) – Just a map to put pins for open parking. Without any users in the area you might not see anything. Karma points make no real sense right now. Could use an online list of top Karma points or something.
  • Theme (3/5) – No real theme just the map on page showing the map. Not even a splash screen before it opens.
  • Overall (3/5) – This app has potential for those that need it.  Just needs to fine tune the options that come with it.

Conclusion: I think this app while be something to keep on the back burner for awhile—good for events–unless you commute to a major city daily.  I’m sure Google will have more in store for this app as its gained popularity (and I hope it does) because the potential for this app is very high.