Google's new street-level map view will be very helpful for car owners in densely populated San Francisco, where parking spots are few and far between. The feature allows users to zoom in close enough to read street signs. Residents who don't have the luxury of an off-street parking spot will be able to check the signs on the street where they last parked to see what the street cleaning and other parking restrictions are. Otherwise, they have to remember what the rules are for the different streets or take the time to check the signs before leaving the car there for the day.
Google employees who had been testing the new feature before its launch Tuesday were using it to monitor their parking, a Google spokeswoman said.
This isn't a foolproof system though. For one thing, you may not be able to read the signs, no matter how close in you can zoom, if they're obstructed by a tree or covered with graffiti, as many signs are in certain neighborhoods. Also, the feature won't be of any use if you can't remember where you parked your car, which happens more often than you might imagine.
Despite those potential limits, I guarantee there will be a deluge of tech-savvy San Francisco residents logging on to Google Maps in the morning to check the signage near their car before heading off to work in the morning. And for those commuters who want to save even more time, there's NextBus.com, which uses GPS satellites to track city buses in San Francisco to provide real-time mapping of individual buses. So you can log on and see how many minutes until the next bus on your route will arrive. You can even track the movements of the buses on an online street map. Now, if there was only some technology that could be used to stop the bus from driving off when you run up just as the bus door has closed.