Beta version of Clew available with support for route saving!

App Developer

Hi Folks,

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 clewapp@gmail.com).

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.

Known bugs:
(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:

https://testflight.apple.com/join/yjuFusW2

All the best, and we really appreciate the feedback we have gotten from the community to help us improve Clew,
Paul

Forum: 

#1 This sounds really great

This sounds amazing. I was just on a cruise a couple weeks ago and while I found little trouble navigating to most areas of the ship, they had a ridiculously huge buffet system, among other large, open areas. These new upgrades would have been invaluable during that experience. This prompts a question. I assume all the fatures of Clue are performed "online"? Either way, can't wait to try some of these new features. One question, can you name the routes you save?

#2 Sweet

I got it now. It seems to be working fine. Have done some tries. w

#3 Hi Remy,

App Developer

Hi Remy,

Thanks for these thoughts. Clew actually doesn't require any sort of connection to the Internet. Currently, all routes are saved only on the local device, and no cloud services are utilized to help with the tracking. The app would work in the setting you mentioned (large open areas).

Also, yes, you can name your routes. Route organization needs to be tackled though (it currently has one flat list of routes organized from most to least recently recorded).

All the best,
Paul

#4 Great to hear!

App Developer

Great to hear!

#5 Very sad it will not work on iPhone 6

Very sad this app does not work on iPhone 6

#6 landmarking

"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)"

according to the instruction, does landmarking not rely on any visual element, or it simply attempts to make alignment easier? when you hold your phone screen up, all the camera capture is the floor, nothing distinctive. if one can point the camera to something distinctive such as a big fireplace, wouldn't it be more helpful?

#7 The landmarking procedure is

App Developer

The landmarking procedure is purely designed to align the phone physically with a known position from the saved route. As a bonus, sometimes the floor is distinctive enough to create a visual match and improve the alignment.

Once the landmark alignment is done, ARKit (the underlying motion tracking library on iOS), is constantly trying to match distinctive features of the environment (e.g., the fireplace in your example) with elements that it saw when the route was initially recorded. If no match is able to be made, the app will rely entirely on the initial physical alignment done using the landmark procedure. This is why it is important for the landmark to be done against a flat vertical surface such as a wall. If the phone's alignment is off by even something like 5 degrees, after traveling along a route for a long time, the tracking will be way off. We have found that the current landmarking method is actually quite accurate and allows you to follow moderately long routes without matching any visual features to the saved route. When visual matching succeeds, routes can be much longer and guidance is usually extremely accurate. Visual matching is more likely to happen when you travel the route in the same direction as the recording (forward) since the environment generally looks more similar than when traveling in the reverse direction.

I hope this helps. I can definitely go into more detail on the alignment procedure and even ARKit in general if anyone is interested.

#8 iPhone 6

App Developer

Gary, I share your frustration with this. I wanted to make sure to emphasize that there is a good reason why Clew does not support iPhone 6. Apple's ARKit library, which we rely on for motion tracking, only supports iPhone 6S and later. Without ARKit, this app would not work, so we are not able to support earlier iPhone versions. I really wish we could support these earlier devices!

#9 Looking Forward to It

Hello Paul and thanks for posting this. I grabbed myself a copy of this app when it was first announced, and really like it. I'm glad development has continued and will certainly get the first beta version. My independent travel skills aren't quite up to par, so I need all the help I can get at this point. Thanks again and keep up the great work.

#10 thanks Paul for reply Re iPhone 6

This does make total sense the iPhone 6 is indeed an older phone but still works perfectly and on the original battery still 90% on battery check I would still love to have this app in my tool kit one day, I did download it from the App Store when it first came out thought it was a bug when it did not respond correctly on my iPhone 6 but its still there on the iPhone 6 screen, i can with a heavy heart take it off, i had hoped that the 1st update would remedy the problem that I was having with the app but it did not now I know why after reading in test flight that this app is not compatible with my device but sadly it let me download it in the 1st place from the App Store this seems like a great app Paul keep up the great work it will be on my next iPhone that's for sure