Nearby Explorer App

Yesterday I discussed a handful of apps that are fully accessible using VoiceOver.  One I didn’t discuss is Nearby Explorer, which is a GPS app for people who are blind.

Nearby Explorer is yet another app from the American Printing House for the Blind (APH).  (If you’re unfamiliar with APH, it is a nonprofit that offers thousands of products and services for individuals of all ages with visual impairments.)

This app was first available on the market back in 2013 for Android phones.  It is now available for iOS devices.  Instead of simply providing directions, it describes the environment in ways comparable to reading signs or observing road characteristics.

It uses the phone’s GPS and compass to provide real-time information about the user’s surroundings.  It also displays maps on the screen that provide audio feedback with touch. Results are enhanced with “onboard data with Google Places business listings and Foursquare (iOS only).”

Because the app uses a GPS receiver to read signals sent from an array of satellites, some of the following may impact accuracy:

  • Low cloud cover
  • Large buildings or physical landmarks that prevent a clear view of the sky
  • Inside buildings or underground where there’s no clear view of sky
  • Unusual atmospheric conditions, such as solar flares or magnetic storms

Features of Nearby Explorer:

  • Provides surrounding and approaching streets, businesses, institutions, and public facilities
  • Continually updates distance and directional information to nearest or selected destination
  • Users are able to control the amount of detail they desire
  • The app provides a sense of the surrounding streets and their relationship to the user’s current location
  • It allows users to monitor or aid a driver with navigational information
  • It allows users to virtually explore the map
  • Requires the following:
    • iPhone, iPad, or iPod running iOS 9.0 or later
    • GPS receiver either on the device or via Bluetooth
    • At least 4.2 GB of free space on which to store complete North America downloaded maps
  • May consume a lot of the battery; click here to learn more about battery consumption

Click here to learn more about the Nearby Explorer app!