We waste what feels like days of our lives looking for parking spaces, but there are smartphone apps available that can help us claw back some lost time. James Scoltock tests the best three on the market.
The most UK-specific of the big-selling parking apps, Appy Parking focuses on providing info for both on- and off-street parking information across 11 of the UK’s biggest cities.
So if you’re on your way to Birmingham, Edinburgh, London or Manchester, the app provides you with a great deal of useful information.
Best of all, the app itself is quick and easy to use, too. Once you’ve typed in your destination it will show a range of parking options on the map, and will tell you whether these are paid bays, NCP facilities or spaces for electric cars with charging points.
You can also filter the information it provides so that it shows controlled parking zones and red routes. This means you shouldn’t ever get caught out once you’ve left your vehicle and come back to a parking ticket.
As with other apps of this ilk, once you’ve found your space, you can then use one of the navigation apps on your phone to direct you straight to it.
However while Appy Parking will certainly be beneficial if you happen to live in or be travelling to the 11 major cities that it has most information for, it does limit the usefulness of the Appy Parking app for a wider audience unless all you’re after is large, multi-storey car parks.
To try and counter this, Appy Parking offers a premium petrol station service for £9.99 a year, where it will find the cheapest and nearest fuel. But that doesn’t really make up for the lack of nationwide information on parking, which is what the app was developed for in the first place.
Just Park allows drivers to find, reserve and pay for parking either in advance or on-the-go and can offer motorists parking for as much as 70% less than drive-up pay-and-display spaces.
The system works by not only relying on traditional car parks but also spaces at hotels, businesses and even private homes – as long as people register their spaces with Just Park, you can book them.
As with Parkopedia, type in the location you want to park and the software will show every space that is available to you on a map, along with the cost.
Once you’ve chosen your space, hit the navigate button and the app will use the navigation software on your phone to take you directly to it.
Users can browse more than 200,000 spaces in more than 1,000 towns and cities using the iPhone or Android app, or you can use the website before you head out.
Users can filter spaces by date, time, distance, price and type of space until you find your perfect match.
The app allows you to reserve your parking space and pay for it securely online using a credit card, debit card or PayPal – or using Android or Apple Pay on your mobile. To make things more even helpful, you can message the owner of the parking space if you have any specific questions.
However, there are some glitches in the app that make it annoying to use, especially the search function.
Click in the box and the keypad pops up ready to use, but there’s no cursor and no letters appear when you type, although when you tap search results do appear.
Started in 2007, Parkopedia is perhaps one of the best-known parking apps and, for that reason, is not only downloadable to your mobile phone but is also pre-loaded into some car manufacturers’ infotainment systems.
Parkopedia allows you to find the closest parking to your destination, tells you how much it will cost and whether the space is available, minimising the amount of time spent driving around looking for free spaces.
The app gives information on more than 60 million parking spaces in 75 countries, and includes information on car parks, street parking and private driveways, so you shouldn’t ever be left high and dry without a space.
Once you’ve fired up the app simply type in the city, place or postcode of where you want to park and it’ll find free spaces nearby for you.
Parkopedia breaks down the parking costs too, so you can chose to head towards the cheapest option or go for a more expensive space. And, if you’re like many people these days and never carry much cash, you can also find out if card payments are accepted.
In fact, the filter options are extensive – as well as payment details there are also height adjustment, disabled spaces, whether it’s a covered facility or not, and if there are electric recharge points.
Perhaps most helpfully, once you’ve found the parking space Parkopedia then gives you the option to use the navigation apps on your phone to take you straight to it, whether that’s using Google Maps, Apple Maps, Waze or a host of others.
…PARKOPEDIA. As we all fight to find the nearest, most convenient or cheapest parking spaces, apps like these become increasingly important.
To that end, bigger really is better; the more information they hold and the greater number of facilities they include, the easier it is to find the space that meets your needs, which is why Parkopedia has the edge over Just Park and Appy Parking.
Parkopedia’s interface is easy on the eye, includes all of the information that you need, and, because it’s been around for a while there are fewer glitches than in the other apps.
Appy Parking is simply too limited to be useful. Although its database of information will doubtless grow in time, its current incarnation covers only 11 cities, which simply isn’t enough.