Google Maps may soon spell out your chances of finding a parking spot

Google Maps could start acting as a parking assistant, if new features in a pre-release version make it into the main service.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

The Google Maps pre-release seems to provide three parking difficulty levels, including easy, medium, and limited.

Image: Nicole Cozma/CNET

A pre-release version of Google Maps suggests the service will soon start telling you how difficult it will be to find a vacant spot to park your car.

The new feature could be a major help when approaching a music venue, sports stadium, or shopping mall, where it's hard to tell how likely you are to find a free spot. According to Android Police, it appears that Google Maps has three parking difficulty levels, including easy, medium, and limited.

It's not clear yet whether Maps will communicate the likelihood of availability due to, say, an event or time of day. It may merely base its gradings on the number of park places normally available.

Android Police's findings were based on a teardown of Google Maps for Android v9.34, which hasn't officially been released yet.

There's also a new control in Navigation settings to 'keep map north up', which replaces an older setting that tilted the map automatically when in navigation mode. This feature is linked to another capability aimed at preventing accidental swipe from disrupting the rotation of the map.

When north-up mode is enabled, maps will snap back to the normal orientation if the display is swiped with two fingers. This feature should help when the user zooms to see the upcoming turns.

It remains to be seen whether, and when, these features will actually land in the next release of Google Maps.

One Google Maps-related app that is ready for use is Verne: The Himalayas, which the search company built using Google Maps 3D data imagery of The Himalayas.

As a part game, part 3D map, you can explore the mountain ranges as Verne, a 500-foot Yeti, who can chase yaks, climb Mount Everest, flood areas and more. The app is available on Google Play.

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