Nearby Explorer

Last modified
Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Description of App

Nearby Explorer is a full featured GPS app designed for use by people who are blind. Instead of just providing directions, it describes the environment in ways comparable to reading signage or observing road characteristics.

It uses onboard maps, so a data connection is not required, but if you have one, Nearby Explorer supplements the on board map data with crowd collected locations from Foursquare or Google Places. It includes complete maps for the United States and Canada which contain millions of points of interest. The onboard maps are over 4GB in size, so be sure the device you plan to use has enough available space before purchasing.

Nearby Explorer works with any device running iOS version 9 or later, but if the device does not contain its own GPS receiver, like most iPads and iPods, you must use an external GPS receiver. All iPhones contain GPS receivers.

Nearby Explorer works by letting you select from several different location related options about what to announce as you move. These include both typical items like street name and address and specialized options like approaching streets, intersection configurations, and nearby places and the distance and direction to them. (All announcements are optional.) All of this information is shown on the home screen and is available at any time, but typical use is to adjust the level of announcements, then lock the screen and put the device away. This keeps both hands free and let's your preferred voice speak the characteristics of the environment as you move.

You may also use the devices position and orientation to obtain additional targeted details such as pointing the end of the device to scan for businesses, even in a moving vehicle, or tilting it vertically to function as a compass, including a listing of streets in the indicated direction. This all works with the device locked, so one need not fuss with the touch screen while moving. You may even mark a point, then use the position of the device to get haptic feedback about that point's location.
Nearby Explorer includes a transit feature that provides detailed mass transit schedules for over 60 metropolitan areas in the U. S. and Canada. It treats transit stops just like favorites and points of interest by announcing their name and relative position as you move, but in addition, transit stops add next vehicle stop time, direction of travel, and route name to the announcements. You can use the transit schedules to look up times or even follow a route.

You may virtually move to any area in the U.S. or Canada and explore the road network, search, or use the transit maps for that area.

For complete details about Nearby Explorer, see



Free or Paid


Apple Watch Support


Device(s) App Was Tested On


iOS Version


Accessibility Comments

Very accessible. It is also very customizable, you can choose your preferred a voice.

VoiceOver Performance

VoiceOver reads all page elements.

Button Labeling

All buttons are clearly labeled.


The app is fully accessible with VoiceOver and is easy to navigate and use.

Other Comments

The app loads very quickly, much faster than other GPS apps I have tried. Also, the maps are downloaded to your device, so a data connection is not required.

Developer's Twitter Username



3 people have recommended this app

Most recently recommended by gallagher123123 3 years 9 months ago



Submitted by Will on Thursday, August 18, 2016

Hi all shame this does not work in the uk. however aph also do a nearby explorer online which 4 android lets you have a free version but not map downloads this is international, but not on ios as of yet.

Submitted by Becca on Thursday, August 18, 2016

This app sounds great but the price tag is huge! Sounds very cool!

Submitted by brandon armstrong on Thursday, August 18, 2016

I hope it's good for what it is, because I happen to be on the beta testing team testing this app. I hope you all enjoy it.

Submitted by Clement on Friday, August 19, 2016

I'm curious to see how this compares to the Seeing Eye GPS which has route capabilities. Also, on a slightly related note, does the Seeing Eye GPS also do transit stop information?

Submitted by DPinWI on Friday, August 19, 2016

This seems like it might be in the sweet spot, for me, between Seeing Eye GPS and Blind Square. I have never tried the Seeing Eye app because the price, being a subscription model, scared me off. I do like what I read about its feature set.

I use Blind Square almost daily, but find some of its quirks and limitations bother me as time goes by. It is very useful, but I think it could be better.

So, while the price tag of this APH app gives me a few moments pause, and I have to figure out how to shoe horn it onto my 16GB iPhone, I am very tempted to try it. I am looking forward to hearing if anyone has first hand experience with it and how it stacks up in daily use.

Submitted by Imaginingstuff on Friday, August 19, 2016

My friend uses it on android and I use Blind Squared and I can stand in front of a business with blind squared and it will tell me what it is and his won't. I do like that his tells him what side of the street the cross street is if it isn't a through street. Hope that made sense, but my blind squared doesn't seem to be lacking anything and it was only $30. I setup alerts when I get to certainplaces and it will also tell me what business are around me even in a car.
I love that they are making an apple version though. The more choices the better for us!!!

Submitted by Jake on Friday, August 19, 2016

In reply to by Becca

Most of that expensive price tag goes to map licenses. In order to distribute these maps to your device, APH must license them for distribution to you. These maps do not come cheap to start with, and a license to distribute is even more expensive. You're not paying any more for this than sighted people do to update their in-car Garmin or Tomtom units.

Submitted by Jake on Friday, August 19, 2016

In reply to by Imaginingstuff

The reason your phone will tell you what you're in front of and his won't is that the iPhone has a better GPS receiver. Any GPS app can only work as well as the receiver used with it.

Submitted by DPinWI on Friday, August 19, 2016

One of the reasons I am interested in the APH app is that it uses Google maps, rather than the Open Street Maps. In Blind Square there are a number of major intersections around me that are simply invisible to the app. While I know this, and deal with it, it makes me always unsure of what else is missing.

Further, the Four Square POI database is chock full of garbage. I don't need to know that someone has a favourite park bench, nor where an unknown person's home or fishing pond are. I read that the APH app can use Four Square, but also has Google Businesses as an option. It is my hope that the Google database might be cleaner.

In reality, I'm probably just trying to justify a new tech toy that is priced above my comfort threshold for novelty purchases.

Submitted by Clement on Friday, August 19, 2016

also would be nice to have a trial available. I actually wouldn't midn a subscription model... that way I could pay a portion of the fee for a month and try it to see how I like it. Thinking about doing this for the Seeing Eye GPS and seeing if the route feature is as good as google Maps or not.

Submitted by dvdmth on Friday, August 19, 2016

Club AppleVis Member

I would really like to hear a side-by-side comparison between this app and Blind Square. Although I use and like Blind Square, I would imagine that an app that uses Google Maps would be more accurate, since Google puts a lot of effort in their mapping service.

In my area, the map database used by Blind Square has a number of weird oddities. There are a few streets in my area which end in E, N, or S. At a few intersections, the street names are given with the E converted to East, the N converted to North, and the S converted to South. For example, a street called Sheridan Boulevard might get announced as, "Sherida North Boulevard," while a street called County Line Road might come out as, "County Lin East Road." This usually only happens at intersections, while address numbers are given with the correct street name.

I even ran across a place where Blind Square gave the name of an upcoming street as, "To Be Closed." That street was closed a few years back during road construction, but it has been a long time since there was any closure there, and there is no construction scheduled there in a near future.

I won't even begin to mention the problems with Four Square. In my neighborhood, it is almost completely useless, although it is somewhat better downtown.

Submitted by Jordan on Saturday, August 20, 2016

I can tell you that this is a very good app on Android, and I am glad to see it now on iOS. I would like to see a comparison made between Seeing Eye GPS and Nearby Explorer. I generally use Blind Square these days and/or my Trekker, but if Nearby Explorer is able to be more accurate than Seeing Eye GPS is, I probably will purchase it.

Submitted by Jordan on Saturday, August 20, 2016

I have to say that this app looks good. It was very reasonably priced at $80 basically versus the $300 it would be to not be subscription based for Seeing Eye. I like also that the voice can be changed as well. Blind Square will still have its place I think, but for navigation, this app and/or my Trekker are what will be used. My Trekker has its own issues such as missing addresses and businesses.

Submitted by dvdmth on Saturday, August 20, 2016

Club AppleVis Member

For those who have the app, is it possible to use Nearby Explorer while simultaneously listening to music, either from the Music app or from a third party?

BlindSquare will let you listen to music while using the app, so long as you have the audio menu feature turned off in the BlindSquare settings. I like having music in the background while I am going for walks around the neighborhood.

I have learned over the years that you can never assume an app with any kind of audio to be compatible with music apps running at the same time. Some allow this, while others don't. I did not see anything in the user guide for Nearby Explorer that says one way or the other, so I would like someone to try this out for me.

Submitted by JeffB on Sunday, August 21, 2016

This sounds great can someone do a podcast on this app?

Submitted by JeffB on Sunday, August 21, 2016

I might still get this I do wish that it didn't download the map as well.

Submitted by DPinWI on Monday, August 22, 2016

I appreciate the link to Mike's podcast demo. Very informative. I liked what I heard, except the incessant update of what's around. Even when he switched off the distance information, the app kept nattering the same POIs over and over.

Other than that, I really liked what I heard.
It's gut check time. I need to decide if I really need it. Ha.

Submitted by dvdmth on Monday, August 22, 2016

Club AppleVis Member

I encourage anyone who is thinking about this app to take a listen to the linked podcast, since it answered a number of questions I had about the app. That, combined with reading the user guide, was very informative.

As the previous commenter said, the repeated announcements of nearby points of interest can be problematic, although he did have the radius set to a higher level than he normally does (525 feet instead of 300 feet). A number of the extra noise was for places that were beyond the 300-foot radius, so if he had turned the radius down, that would have cleared up much of the extra noise. Also, the noise was much more apparent when he was using Foursquare instead of Google, which is not surprising to me because of how much junk the Foursquare database has.

Having said all that, the app could be better at avoiding duplicate announcements for points of interest, especially when traveling farther away from one. BlindSquare, by comparison, typically only announces a particular POI once, even if it remains nearby during the next set of announcements. The app will announce a POI multiple times if you mark it as a favorite or if you activate the tracking feature, but otherwise it is pretty good at avoiding redundant information.

One other concern I have after hearing the demo is how upcoming intersections are handled. The demonstrator seemed to like the fact that upcoming intersections are announced repeatedly as you approach one, along with how much farther you must travel to get there. I actually found that to be too much information, especially if my destination comes before the next junction. I like BlindSquare's approach better, where an intersection is announced when you get within 100 feet or so of the junction, enough time to get ready for the crossing, yet not so far in advance to become an annoyance. I do wish, though, that BlindSquare would give the configuration of the intersection like Nearby Explorer does, such as if a street is on the left or on the right. That seemed like a pretty neat feature of Nearby Explorer.

The podcast did not answer my biggest question, which I posted earlier, which is whether or not the app can be used while simultaneously listening to music or some other media. That could be a potential dealbreaker for me if it turns out you cannot mix this app with other audio sources.

The podcast also did not talk about how favorites are handled in the app. BlindSquare has special handling for favorites, such as additional announcements as you approach a favorite, if you walk past a favorite, and when you arrive at one, all without having to set the favorite as a destination. I have a few favorites set in a nearby park, which I use to help keep my bearings as I move around, and this extra feedback comes in handy there.

Still, there is much to like about Nearby Explorer, and I can easily see why this app is the podcaster's favorite of the different offerings out there. As for whether it is worth the $50 more compared to the price of BlindSquare, I'm not so sure, given the concerns I have listed above.

I should include a disclaimer here, as these comments are based entirely on a demonstration. I have no first-hand experience with the app, and my opinions could very easily be different after actually trying it out. Alas, I do not have $80 to burn right now, so I am not in a position to give this a real test run.

Submitted by DPinWI on Monday, August 22, 2016

I share all of your concerns. Being able to listen to music, or other audio while walking is important to me. Though, with the amount of chatter I heard, I would have a little trouble listening to something else. As to the upcoming announcements, I too thought there were too many updates. I liked that upcoming streets were announced further ahead than with Blind Square, but I do not need continuous hand holding. I would hope that this, like the POI chatter, could be mitigated with judicious settings. But it's just a hope since I have yet to hit the Buy button.\

Submitted by DPinWI on Monday, August 22, 2016

I set an email to APH and received a prompt, helpful response.

The app can handle concurrent multiple audio streams, and they will update the manual to indicate this.

The continuous updates and the POIs is currently not configurable, but they were open to suggestions to make the app better. I suggested a sort of Maximum and Minimum distance for alerts such that there would be an alert when the POI came into range, another as it is close, and a third upon arrival I think I would find this better than Blind Square and less overly verbose than the chatter in the demo.

Submitted by Lisa on Monday, August 22, 2016

Hello all,
This app sounds very interesting, so I'm gonna listen to the podcast. Can one listen to music or other audio while this app is running in the background?

Submitted by MarkSARCH on Monday, August 22, 2016

Hello guys
Well another GPS for us, in less we have choices to pick up what flavor you prefer.
Nearby Explorer
Seems as American Printing House for the Blind only realized the app to show that they did already without seeing the need.
There already great Blind GPS apps on the appStore
did Nearby Explorer implement something new?
answer not really.
regarding to the audio demo created by Mike Arrigo he been saying for the last couple years the same thing about Nearby Explorer he wished to iOS app just because some app is available for android it doesn't mean who need it for iOS.
I'm not going to criticize what he says in his audio demos if not the contrary he does a great job on each demo.
From my point of view:
Always we are talking about equal accessibility for all.
I live in US but what's the point to create some Blind GPS apps exclusively to US, are not there Blind People all over the world?
They should make Global apps
What would you do if have plans to visit another Country this Christmas???

Submitted by DPinWI on Tuesday, August 23, 2016

I hit the Buy button last night. I had to remove a lot of stuff from my 16GB iPhone 6 in order to squeeze the app in. One thing I did not remove was Blind Square. I'm not ready to let go of it.

I had the app running, with the screen locked, and I was able to listen to other audio sources concurrently. I can confirm that this works.

I was surprised to see that the app offers Apple Maps as a source, yet, it really wants the huge 4.2GB map download to be happy. I searched around my locale, and Google Places seems to have much more real stuff than Blind Square's Four Square listing, and, there are fewer garbage listings. I was able to painlessly recreate my local favourites by searching and then adding to the list. I will recreate my personal POIs as I walk past them over the next few days.

I had some focus issues on the home page. Towards the bottom, Voice Over was jumping between some fields. It seemed related to the altitude field updating.

Today, I am going on a new walk. While I would normally think better than to try a new GPS on an unknown route, the route is simple, with only two heading changes. My plan is to try the guidance system to see how it works. I have never tried getting turn by turn from Blind Square as it always seemed to be more of a hassle than it was worth. In this case, I will just find my Home in the favourites, and tell it to get me there. For that simplicity alone I have high hopes.

I'm going to keep the alert distance at the minimum of 75 feet to start, but may open it up to 150. I hope this keeps the chatter heard in the demo down to a reasonable level.

I will report back later today on my impressions of the first walk with the app.

Submitted by dvdmth on Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Club AppleVis Member

Based on what was in the user guide, Nearby Explorer only uses Apple to get the current address number. That is most likely coming from the built-in location services, which a number of apps use to get location information, such as weather apps. This information includes the current street address. I would be very surprised if Nearby gets anything else from Apple, since I don't think Apple opens up their map data for use by third parties.

Many thanks for the confirmation about mixing this app with other audio sources. I have been burned in the past by apps which don't play nice with background audio, so I learned not to assume that it would be supported unless it was documented somewhere.

Submitted by jazzyjennifer on Tuesday, August 23, 2016

i got near buy explore, and one thing i do like about it, compared to blind square, is it announces better with the screan locked.

Submitted by DPinWI on Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Okay, so I have my first walk with Nearby Explorer under my belt. It was decent.

The audio was fine with my music playing. It did not duck the music, so I had to turn the speech up a little more than my usual VO volume. In some ways, I liked that the music volume wasn't changing.

The voices are iOS compact voices. I miss the better voices in Blind Square. I can certainly get used to the compact stuff, but I hope that at some point APH adds more high quality voices.

I tried to get turn by turn, but I got a direction list instead. My fault. A quick refresher with the manual when I got home and I now know what I did wrong, and how to do it correctly.

I missed having Blind Square updates like, You have walked x distance in y time. Not a big deal, but I missed it none the less.

The multiple alerts was not as much of an issue as I thought it might be. I toyed with various radius settings, and found that it seems to use the same setting for nearby places, and favourites. Blind Square allows for separate settings. I generally have only streets and my places announced in Blind Square, and I will likely move to that setting once I get familiar with the new Google Places announcements.

All in all, it was a good first walk, and with some settings tweaking, I think it will be a great addition to my phone.

Submitted by Jake on Tuesday, August 23, 2016

So far, I have to say this app is just as nice as its Android counterpart. It was the one thing I missed after going back to iOS.
A note on Voices: You don't have to use iOS' compact voices. Under the settings, you can select which voice you want. Once past the compacts in the picker, you will see the enhanced voices you have installed as well as Alex if your device supports it. I opted for Alex myself, as I like having the same voice system-wide.
All in all, well worth the $80 and worth the effort of forcing it onto my 16 gig phone. Those with experience with the Android version will be right at home with this, though the app's screen layout is much more iOS-like and thus things are in different places.

Submitted by dvdmth on Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Club AppleVis Member

There is a bug in iOS 9 which causes the compact voice to be used in third-party apps, even when you select the enhanced version. This affects numerous apps, including the Blindfold series. This is supposed to be fixed in iOS 10.

Submitted by Jake on Tuesday, August 23, 2016

In reply to by dvdmth

I just tested. The enhanced voice works for me, iOS 9.3.4. Daniel enhanced. I chose that one because the difference between compact and enhanced is super-obvious. I had Nearby Explorer using that and VoiceOver using Alex. I'd say there's definitely a bug somewhere if it's not working for everyone.

Submitted by Unregistered User (not verified) on Tuesday, August 23, 2016

I just got the map app and connected for the first time on Wi-Fi. It doesn't seem to be downloading the maps. I'm getting an error that says unable to connect to server.

Submitted by Unregistered User (not verified) on Tuesday, August 23, 2016

After trying the app again about an hour after my original install, everything seems to work now

Submitted by vallim on Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Does anyone know if a version for the UK will be coming soon?

Submitted by DPinWI on Thursday, September 1, 2016

I am really glad I purchased this app. I was happy with Blind Square, but its shortcomings were wearing thin as I became more adventurous. I like Nearby Explorer's more accurate maps, better intersection descriptions, built in turn by turn directions and the way it announces upcoming streets and POSs

I like the way it handles audio better too. Although, I miss the better voice options still.

I had my first chance to put the turn by turn through its paces. It worked well. The route was announced and I felt confident I knew where I was going. I decided to veer off route to in part see what the app didd, and also because I did not like one of gthe roads it had me heading to. It did not appear to alert that I was off route. I kept going for a bit, and finally asked for a new route from my current location, and it gave me a route using my preferred streets. What it initially suggested was fine, just not the path I wanted to take.

I don't like that I can't have my favourites announced, without having other POIs too.I still like the Blind Square way better, but, the other benefits out weigh this one for me, and, perhaps it will come along in a future update.

Submitted by Jordan on Friday, September 2, 2016

Well, I'm going back to using Seeing Eye GPS as of today. Nearby Explorer failed big time when I was in New Orleans. It never updated my route I was doing, did not reroute me when I made a different turn from where it said for me to go, and it had the location of where I was going .23 miles South of where it really was. I found where I was going using BlindSquare. Funny thing is that APH is being completely silent when I reported the issues I ran into with this app to them, and I tried both Apple and the Onboard maps for addresses, which the Onboard maps seem to be less accurate than Apple Maps to begin with. Since APH is going to not respond to me, I have e-mailed Apple to get my money back since clearly to me this app does not work like it is supposed to and APH cannot be bothered to address my issues I reported to them on Tuesday. Your best bet if you are looking for a GPS app is to go with Seeing Eye GPS. Nearby Explorer is nowhere near as good on iOS as it is on Android. Seeing Eye GPS has always been pretty good from the start where as Nearby Explorer is clearly having problems that they should have found and fixed before releasing the app. If you have Nearby Explorer on Android like I do, it is a good app on that OS.

This app should not have been released until the problems were worked out. It fails to guide me with turn by turn directions even when I have some place set as my destination, it fails to reroute me, and it failed to even give me proper directions to where I was going. I ended up .23 miles South of where I was trying to go following Nearby Explorer's directions. I tried both the Onboard and Apple Maps with no success. I have to say the Android version has been much better from the start than the iOS version is. I was excied to see Nearby Explorer come to iOS, but it has been a let down so far and back to Seeing Eye GPS or Blind Square depending on where I am going and what I am doing.

Submitted by DPinWI on Friday, September 2, 2016

The one time I tried turn by turn, I did not get rerouted when I chose to not follow the directions. While it would be nice if the app told me I was off path, and asked if I wanted a new route, it wasn't a deal breaker for me. Perhaps it is because this is a step up from Blind Square, and I have no experience with Android. Either way, your post is encouraging since it is reasonable to expect these features in a future update since they exist in Android.

In my area, the maps appear to be more accurate by far than Blind Square. I do not use Google or Apple maps as they did not provide the functionality I need in day to day use.

Submitted by dvdmth on Friday, September 2, 2016

Club AppleVis Member

Last week's Main Menu podcast featured an interview with a developer of Nearby Explorer. For the most part, it did not offer any details beyond what I already knew about the app, but there was one point which stood out to me as a possible negative, and it might explain why this app may not be able to navigate to the actual destination for a point of interest.

The problem is that the mapping service, NAVTEQ, does not have the exact locations of each address along a street. Instead, address locations are approximated based on the first and last address number along each block. If the number you are trying to get to is halfway between the first and last numbers that exist, then NAVTEQ assumes your destination is at the midpoint of the block, which would only be correct if the addresses along the block are distributed evenly. Therefore, there will be instances where the actual address is some distance away from where the on-board maps think it is.

The good news is that Apple has better information about address locations, so the current address will be announced more reliably if you tell Nearby Explorer to use Apple for address info. However, I am not sure if this will work to improve turn-by-turn directions, because I would imagine that feature will ultimately depend on NAVTEQ data and will thus have the same limitations regarding exact locations of places. So, if you use turn-by-turn in this app, do not be surprised if you end up a short distance away from your actual destination. Having said that, an error of 0.23 miles is pretty excessive, so that's most likely an error in the POI database itself.

By contrast, BlindSquare uses GPS coordinates to determine the location of a POI, which in theory will be a lot more accurate. My problem with BlindSquare is that it relies on Foursquare for POI information, and in my area there are many Foursquare places with bad GPS coordinates, as much as a mile away in some cases. I simply cannot use BlindSquare to find nearby places because of this. As for whether Nearby Explorer is any better, I cannot say because I still haven't taken the plunge. I am still not sure if the price tag is worth it.

Before going back to some other app after reporting problems to APH, you've got to give them time to respond. They're not going to have an immediate fix, and they're probably very busy at this time due to the newness of the app. You're probably not the only one who has written to them, and should not expect an immediate response from them. I purchased the app yesterday and find that it works very well in my area. I would like to see automatic updating of the route if you go off course by choice or accident, but I keep in mind that this is the first version, and features may be incorporated into future versions if they get enough requests and the incorporations are feasibly possible, which this one should be. As the app currently exists, I thing it superior to The Seeing Eye, and for a whole lot less money. Again, as for bugs, report them, and then give them time.

Submitted by Jordan on Sunday, September 4, 2016

After thinking about it, I tried the last thing that could possibly make Nearby Explorer to work properly. I made sure to be using the Onboard Maps and I switched the POI Source from Google Places to 4square, and now it works pretty well. I don't have anything to complain about with this app now that I have it working.

Submitted by dvdmth on Saturday, September 10, 2016

Club AppleVis Member

I have seen a number of posts saying that Nearby Explorer cannot announce nearby favorites without also announcing other points of interest.

According to the user guide, that should be possible. The following was copied directly from the user guide:

To control which type of information Nearby Explorer reports, activate the Context menu for the Nearby item on the main screen. The Context menu includes three items: Nearby Places, Transit Stop Information, and Favorites. You may enable or disable any or all of these options.

In other words, navigate to the nearby setting on the main screen, swipe up or down to select the menu option, double-tap, then enable or disable whatever items you want to be spoken automatically.

I do not have the app (yet), so I cannot test this, but if the user guide is accurate, you should be able to set up the app to announce your favorites only as you navigate.

Submitted by DPinWI on Saturday, September 10, 2016

Thanks, I missed that somehow.

The menu is not as simple as your quote from the manual states, but it seems like you pointed me in the right direction. There are many more options, and it includes the ability to enable or disable transit, nearby places, and favourites. I disabled all but me favourites and see how it works tomorrow.

Submitted by DPinWI on Saturday, September 10, 2016

Thanks for the tip. I was able to walk with just alerts for my favourites. This is what I wanted.

I should have remembered that in the AppleVis Extra, they mentioned how much can be done with the context menus. I have read the manual a couple times, but I missed that part about selective POI control too. I'm going to go read it again now that i have been using the app for a while and see if there is anything else I missed.

Submitted by Jenifer Barr on Monday, September 12, 2016

This ap is the most well-designed, customizable, accurate ap I've seen so far! Cutos to APH! ***suggestion*** catigorys of favorites like blindsquare had.

Submitted by dvdmth on Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Club AppleVis Member

I have been on the fence about getting Nearby Explorer. As you know from earlier comments, one important factor was whether or not the app worked with background audio, such as from the Music app.

I have been a regular user of BlindSquare for a while now, and it worked just fine with background music, so long as the audio menu feature of the app was turned off. Today, after upgrading both BlindSquare and iOS to the newest version, that feature is now broken. I can no longer use BlindSquare while listening to music, either because BlindSquare goes completely silent or because BlindSquare's announcements cause music to stop playing, depending on whether or not the screen is locked.

Unfortunately, I do not know if it was the update to BlindSquare or the update to iOS 10 that broke the functionality. Therefore, I must ask again about background music support in Nearby Explorer. Does it work as expected in iOS 10, or does iOS 10 prevent this from working?

Using iOS 10, I am able to start a recording using Dropvox, then start Nearby Explorer, and then start the music app. I was able to hear the music and the turn by turn info of Nearby Explorer in the playback of the test recording that was successfully sent to my Dropvox folder of Dropbox. If it can perform under those conditions, it should be able to meet your needs. I figured that I would go to the extreme in order to find out.

Submitted by DPinWI on Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Took my first walk with iOS 10, Zombies Run, Nearby Explorer, and music playing today.

Nearby Explorer behaved as desired. It did not stop or duck the music, but instead played over top.

Zombies Run ducked both the music and Nearby Explorer. I'm fine with this. It made hearing street announcements a little harder, but not so much as to be worrisome. Nearby Explorer gives a number of upcoming street alerts, so missing one is never an issue for me.

Submitted by dvdmth on Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Club AppleVis Member

Well, I bit the bullet today and purchased Nearby Explorer. I suppose it will do until the problem with BlindSquare can be resolved, but this app has proven to be a major disappointment.

I should say up front that the problem I had is most likely not the app's fault, but rather a problem with the NAVTEQ data it uses. For some reason, in my area, the database has absolutely no information whatsoever about street intersections. None at all. This means I get no feedback about approaching streets as I move around, which is a major bummer.

I do get address information, as well as what street I am on as I am in the middle of crossing it, but that is all. I know enough about the street numbers here that I can get by with only this information, but it means I have to tell Nearby Explorer to announce address numbers as they change, or else I have no context as far as how much further I have to go to get to the next street. Having to hear every number as I move is certainly annoying, but it is better than the alternative.

If I go east a mile or two, I eventually reach an area where Nearby Explorer actually has information about street intersections. While I am over there, the app works perfectly well. If that is how the app actually behaved in my neighborhood, I would have no complaints. But I am not about to move to a new house because of this, so ultimately I am stuck.

The real interesting thing about the problem is that it actually cleared up a mystery we have had at this household for some twenty years now. A long time ago, whenever we needed somebody to come to the house for something, they would always get stuck trying to get here, and we would get a phone call asking how to reach us. In every case, they were navigated to a particular street some three miles to the east of where we live. There is no direct way from that street to here, so we've had to give directions to our house from that spot. Well, guess what? When I look up our address in the street view within Nearby Explorer, the only street that comes up in the list is the very street those people were erroneously sent to when they tried to get here. So, they were apparently using the same navigation service that Nearby Explorer is now using, and the lack of street information resulted in them getting to the wrong address.

This also means that the problem has been around for all this time without ever being corrected, which makes me very suspicious about how reliable the mapping data really is overall. It's a big shame, because I really wanted this app to work, especially given the problems with BlindSquare.