Nokia Parking helps you find and pay for a spot, we go hands-on (video)

Parking in Paris is a nightmare. No, it's worse -- it's bad enough to keep you awake at night, worrying that your precious machine will be scratched up or simply missing the next morning. Nokia, at least, is trying to make things a little easier with an upcoming service it's just calling Nokia Parking. It's a comprehensive parking database launching in Europe in November that can not only help you find parking but even help you pay for it once you do. More details, and a video demo, after the break.

Let's get this up there first: despite having this demonstrated on a Windows Phone (a Lumia 800, to be exact) this is not an app that Nokia is introducing. Rather, this is a service that, like so many other aspects of Navteq's business, will be licensed to others and basically blended into other apps. So, while you're unlikely to ever get a Nokia Parking app yourself, you may some day in the not-too-distant future get a parking app from your local municipality which itself is using Nokia Parking in the background.

Got it? Good. Here's how it works in its current guise: using GPS coordinates the service determines all available parking nearby. Parking garages have information about their size represented, including minimum heights that could be problematic if you're of the SUV persuasion. But, even more exciting, the app also tracks, in real-time, available spaces just waiting for you to show off those parallel parking skills that earned you a reluctant smile from the judge on your drivers license test.

The service can also aggregate payment information, so once you're an appropriate distance from the curb you can tap a button on your phone and start paying for the parking spot. Then, when you leave, you can tap another button and your payment is automatically processed -- transparently. Or, if you're using the service on something like a 3G-connected navigation unit in your car, the car itself could automatically start and stop payment parking based on its location.

No more fumbling for change and no more hunting for parking spaces -- in theory. The service launches next month in a few cities across Europe and will be built out quickly after that. When will it come to your town? Well, that largely depends on when some local business wants to partners up with Nokia and develop the necessary services. That, we think, could take awhile.

Steve Dent contributed to this report.