Paying to park is one of the many things in life that mankind has come to just accept — no one likes doing it, it’s not going away but sometimes it’s simply unavoidable. Even if you don’t need to pay to park, sometimes you end up parking so far away from where you need to be that you spend hours trying to find your car later on.
The app I’m reviewing today doesn’t do away with paid parking, but it does help with many of the annoyances the world of parking can bring us. It also has an extraordinarily sexy UI that will make many look at the app even if they don’t drive. Let’s get into Parkbud after the break.
Parkbud packs in a very healthy amount of features to help with many of the things associated with parking. I’m talking remembering how long you have left on the meter, finding your way back to the car when the only spot was a half-hour walk away and even finding a car park in the first place. You can even use the app to find nearby places to stay or gas stations in your area.
Let’s say you’re heading out of town to go to a concert. You arrive in the area, and have no idea where you can park that’s closest / close enough to your destination. That’s when you pull over and open up Parkbud. Tapping on the Maps tab at the bottom will pull up a map of your surrounding area (complete with sweet unfolded map creases to add a degree of skeuomorphism to the UI), to which you can choose to display a few different POIs — in this example, car parks. Watch the pins drop on the map, and take your pick.
Paying For Parking
So, you find yourself a close place to park, and you park up. You then realise you have to pay to park there — darn! No biggie, you have some change, but you never know where this night out of town might take you, so how about a little countdown timer on your iPhone that reminds you when your parking time is almost up? Parkbud has you covered — tap on the Timer tab and you’re presented with a gorgeous rendering of a real parking meter. Tap the timer to reveal a pin pad on which you can enter in the duration you want to stay. Hit the tick and the timer begins. Tap the pound sign and you can even pay for your parking, assuming you’ve parked somewhere operated by a supported provider. You’ll get handy push notifications when your parking is nearly up, and you can even choose how long it is before your parking is up that you get said notifications.
Finding Your Way Back To The Car
1AM rolls around, and you’ve ended up in some bar a little walk away from the concert venue. You’ve had a grand old time drinking soft drinks all night, and now it’s time to hit the road to go home. A slight issue arises — you have no idea where you are, and you certainly don’t know the way back to the car, especially in the dead of night. Parkbud comes to save the day again! Tap on the Map tab, then on the button that looks like a walking man. Presuming that you set your car’s location by dropping a pin on the map when you parked, Parkbud will provide you with the fastest walking directions back to your car. Your night has been a success!
There are plenty of other nifty features in this app, hidden throughout the very simplistic and skeuomorphic UI, such as the ability to add a photo of your car and the surrounding landmarks, to aid in finding your vehicle. There’s also a slightly odd Notes feature that I’m assuming allows you to note down anything important such as parking tariffs. I’m a little confused as to why notes is displayed as a prominent feature of the app — it’s one of the four main tabs, yet seems like a feature that isn’t incredibly important, and one that will rarely get used.
There’s also a feature which allows you to find many more POIs around your location, complete with reviews and contact information. That’s nothing to complain about, but you have to unlock it first by letting Parkbud post on your Twitter or Facebook account that you’re using the app — that to me, is utter tack. If the app was free, I could accept the need to spam my friends with a post that says I downloaded an app to unlock features, but Parkbud is $1.99. That just doesn’t sit too well with me.
From the rendering of the parking meter to the map with horizontal and vertical crease marks and the beautifully crafted notepad, it’s clear that a lot of time was spent designing the user interface. I’ve mentioned the word skeuomorphism a few times in this review — this app reeks of it. Whether this app looks good to you or not depends entirely on your opinion of designers creating modern graphics from old objects. Personally, I think it works well in this app. It adds a classy touch.
As for performance of the app, it was perfect — no lag, no crashes and very responsive. My only issue is that six weeks since the iPhone 5’s launch, this app still isn’t optimised for the taller screen size.
Parkbud is a very cute, neat little package that packs in some very welcome features. Considering its price tag, it’s possible the developer considers Parkbud a premium app, but I think it’s more than justified.