ParkBud makes finding your car a joy, almost
The advent of the camera phone was an earth-shattering occasion, a technological advancement that helped propel the amateur photographer onto the front pages and ensure that the time Dave made a fool of himself at a house party would be something permanently recorded for future generations to enjoy.
The addition of a camera in a phone had another use of great global importance: helping find parked cars. Finally, a simple point and click could capture the obscure corner of the car park you'd left the motor and thus avoid six sweaty hours of frantic searching while totting up potential fines.
ParkBud takes your car finding experience into a whole new level. Not just relying on a photo, this sophisticated and rather stylish-looking app utilises GPS to help find you a route back to your motor, calculates how long it should take and even reminds you when a parking meter is about to run out. It's basically the nicest parking attendant you'll ever meet, one that doesn't give you a ticket, but walks you to your car and gives you a friendly pat on the back and a cup of tea.
The app itself, which is currently only available for the iPhone, and will only set you back approximately seven dirhams, resembles the sort of gadget you might expect to see Q tinkering with in MI6's tech room, coming complete with simulated rotating gears, whirring dials and ticking clock hands.
Once you're parked up, load up the ParkBud and off you go. If you're on a meter, stick in how long you've got and a digital clock will start counting down. Use the photo section to take a snap or two, a particularly useful tool if you're in a rental car and can't remember what it looks like. Perhaps use the notepad tool to scribble down some notes for additional info (such as 'next to a massive pink Hummer' or 'the only car without blacked out windows'). Press the map button and - tada! - there you are on Google Maps. Another useful button will reveal car parks in the area (and might make you wonder why you parked in a sand pit). All of this can be done with just a few clicks on the app's intuitive menu screens.
Later on, when you decide you've had enough of the shopping mall (because, let's face it, this is where you're going to be using it the most), open the app again and there's the route back, handily drawn out on the map and with a timer saying how long it'll take to walk.
ParkBud is very well designed, neat and user friendly, managing to be fun and quirky without over egging the pudding. You're likely to find yourself using it even when you know exactly where your car is, just for the sheer hell of it.
Now, if only there was an extra app that reminded me not to leave my lunch on the back seat.
Have some great personal finance apps that you want to share? Write to Curt Brandao at firstname.lastname@example.org
Updated: August 11, 2011 04:00 AM