Google Maps has been gradually adding features to make driving easier over the years, from directions, to traffic, and now by directing drivers to the best places to park. This newest parking feature isn’t yet available for all users, but if you’re a beta tester for Google Maps, you may already have access to it.

Google Maps Expands From The Roads Into Local Parking Areas

Google Maps starting to show parking availability

The parking feature is showing up for some users of the Google Maps v9.44 beta, and it offers a description of what parking will probably be like upon the user’s arrival. It’s a logical next step for the popular driving app, as parking is a key part of any trip, especially in or around a busy urban area.

Those who have the latest beta version of Maps installed will find that it provides a grade for parking at the destination the user has indicated. The grade ranges from “easy” up to “limited,” with “medium” in between. Upon entering in an address and retrieving driving directions for it, beta testers will see the parking grade listed next to the estimated time of arrival at the destination. The arrival time and parking grade are given as the last step in the driving directions.

Google Maps also displays the parking indicator at the top of the turn-by-turn directions list as a P in a circle. If parking is usually easy at that time of the day, it will be green, but if it usually isn’t, it will turn red.”

Google Maps gives typical rather than real-time parking advice

While this new parking feature in Google Maps might sound really great, it may give some users the wrong impression. Instead of giving parking advice in real time like it does with traffic, Google provides the rating based on how difficult it usually is to find parking spaces there.

There’s no word on whether the company intends to improve upon this, although it would be far more difficult to offer real-time parking information than real-time traffic information. This would be easier in areas like parking garages using apps such as Parker. Also the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has been developing something called PocketParker to help drivers more easily find parking spaces.

The beta is available in the U.S. currently but not in other countries such as the U.K. The feature is being rolled out with parking information on public places like airports, shopping centers and other such destinations. Users can also look at a more detailed description of the parking grade for additional information on parking in a particular area.

The new parking feature appears to be similar to another new feature Google recently added, which is about how busy various public places tend to be. One possible use of this feature is to find out when a particular restaurant is at its busiest and when things there tend to quiet down. The feature also shows the average length of a typical visit to each place. Again, this lifestyle information is based on typical trends and not real-time data.