I posted this in some existing threads about Clew, but I felt it was appropriate to make a new post in the forum as well.
Based on feedback from many early adopters of Clew (thank you to all!), we are pleased to announce the release of a beta version of Clew that incorporates many of the suggestions we’ve heard from the community.
The short version of this notice is that you can download a beta version of Clew through Apple’s Test Flight using the link below. Makes sure to read the new help file as a number of things about Clew have changed significantly (or keep reading). Here is the link: https://testflight.apple.com/join/yjuFusW2 to the beta.
Here are the major changes:
(1) By far the most requested feature for Clew is route saving. Clew now supports saving routes. Detailed information on how to save routes is given through the in-app “Help” menu. At a high-level, to save a route you must first anchor your route by positioning your phone in a location and orientation that you can return to at a later time (unassisted) and then activating the “Create Landmark” button. One can think of this position as a “landmark” in much the same way as landmark’s are thought of in orientation and mobility courses. It is a place that helps you orient and position yourself within an environment. Good choices for landmarks are vertical surfaces that are easy to find such as door frames, walls, or windows.
To reload the route, you can return to this same location, position your phone as you did when you created the route, and the app will start providing feedback. Many times when navigating along a route, the app will be able to further refine your alignment to the saved route by registering the current environment’s visual features to those that it saw when the route was initially recorded. Since this automatic registration does not happen every time, it is necessary to use a landmark in addition to automatic alignment.
(2) Support for bi-directional routes. Initial versions of Clew only allowed for navigating your route in reverse. Many folks requested the ability to navigate the route in the forward or reverse direction. Support for this has been added. Importantly, we have observed that route guidance is actually more accurate in the forward direction than the reverse direction (especially when loading saved routes).
(3) Enhancements for users with low vision. We have enlarged text and button sizes in many parts of the UI (although, many more changes are in the works to do a better job of supporting users with low vision.). We have also allowed for speech feedback that is not tied to VoiceOver. This means that if you have enabled the voice feedback option, the app will speak directions to you even if you are not using VoiceOver.
(4) Easier to use pause and create landmark procedure. When pausing a route in previous versions of Clew, the user was instructed to place the phone against a vertical surface with the camera facing out and the screen facing the wall. In this configuration the user confirmed that the phone was in the correct position using the volume button (since the screen is not physically accessible in this configuration). We have changed this procedure. Now, alignment is done by pressing the top edge of the phone flush with the vertical surface and the screen facing up. In this configuration, the phone’s position can be confirmed with an onscreen button (which is much more standard). We have also found that this alignment procedure seems to be a bit more accurate than the previous one and is certainly easier to do and comes with less risk of dropping one’s phone.
(5) Sound feedback volume is now tied to the phone’s volume level even if the mute / vibrate switch is activated. This change was made in response to some users who were not hearing sound feedback and had a tough time understanding what was causing this. The reason in many cases was that the mute / vibrate switch was activated. The new behavior is that if the sound feedback option is activated in the app settings, the app will play sounds (provided the phone’s volume is non-zero).
(6) More transparent communication of tracking errors. The previous version of Clew hid most of the potential errors with motion tracking from the user. Now the app communicates errors such as in cases where there are poor visual features in you environment or if the phone is being moved too quickly.
(7) Dropped support for iOS 11. The new route saving feature requires iOS 12 (or higher) to work as well as possible. While a much more basic version of route saving would have been possible with iOS 11, we didn’t feel that it would work well enough to justify implementing it.
We would love feedback on these new features before we release this as an official app update. You can provide feedback through TestFlight e-mail contact or to either of these e-mail addresses (Paul.Ruvolo@olin.edu or firstname.lastname@example.org).
As a final note, while the changes above certainly address some of the feedback we’ve gotten from you all, there are still many things we have not had a chance to do (one notable thing is support for other languages). Please trust us that we are working on these aspects of the app and look forward to continually improving Clew for the community.
(1) The display of metric units got a bit mangled in the current beta build. It is still apparent what is being communicated, but a space was accidentally left out of the text that VoiceOver reads. This is fixed, but I am waiting to upload a new beta build for when we have collected and responded to more feedback from the community.
Again, the link to the beta version that can be downloaded through TestFlight is here:
All the best, and we really appreciate the feedback we have gotten from the community to help us improve Clew,