What is it?
Honk, $1, iPhone. Honk's the Swiss Army Knife parking app. The first thing you see when you fire it up is a nicely rendered parking meter. This solves the simplest parking problem: once you push your coins into the real life meter, or fancy, futuristic electronic parking box, just twist Honk's meter to the same amount of time and you're set. The app icon's badge ingeniously keeps track of how many minutes you have remaining, and a push notification (along with a suitably annoying alarm) will go off before your meter money runs out, at a number of minutes you can adjust to your liking. (Maybe 3 if you're OK with running like a madman back to your car, maybe 10 or so if you want to be able to stroll back at a less hurried clip.)
Then there are the tools for finding your car. The app uses your phone's GPS sensor to automatically remember where you're parked whenever you set the meter time, which is brilliant, but it also lets you snap a photo of exactly where your car is parked and, if you choose, scribble a superimposed note on top of it with your finger. Say you're in some endless subterranean parking labyrinth and GPS is giving you the big blue circle. Take a picture of your car next to pillar 3A and you won't end up like that episode of Seinfeld.
Who's it good for?
Anyone who drives. Anyone who tends to forget where or when they stopped driving.
Why's it better than alternatives?
It's no revelation that an app might be the solution to the great parking problem, but for just a buck, Honk does an thorough and thoughtful job of sorting it out. It not only helps you find your car but helps you do so before you risk getting a parking ticket, and it looks great through and through. And you can tell that the devs sweated the small stuff, with smart touches like using the app icon as a meter time remaining indicator and having the GPS set a marker automatically when the alarm is set.
How could it be even better?
The option to change the alarm lead time is nice, but even the max of 10 minutes might not be enough for some far flung urban adventures. Besides that, I can't really think of how it could get better without paying my outstanding parking tickets for me.
Honk for iPhone | iTunes
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Video music: Kevin MacLeod