Seeking a different kind of GPS app

iOS and iPadOS

It's summer and I'm doing a lot of picnics, camping and hiking. I need a GPS app that works in these situations that doesn't use maps.
What good you might ask is a GPS without maps? But actually a basic GPS for the sighted used to be map-free. Without maps, one can run in airplane mode or use the app when the internet is flaky. Without maps, there is no distraction of intersections or points of interest. Without maps, you mark your position and use the GPS to plot points on a grid, the screen. For example a hunter might mark his campsite, a fisherman where the best fishing spots were, and a climber where the easiest route up the mountain is.
A quick glance shows him he's for example marked three fishing spots that are each about four miles away in opposite directions, but two are close by just to the northeast.
My goals are more modest. I want to mark the restrooms at my local park. I want to mark my tent at a group campsite. I want to mark the picnic table where my friends are sitting. I want to mark all these things so I can easily find them when I return from a walk. And if I stop on the walk, I want to hear that my tent is 2 miles away due north, that the nearest restroom is half a mile off to the south and that my friends are only forty yards away to the west.
I can do this with BlindSquare, Ariadne, iMOVE, and other talking GPS apps. But I have to hear messages about intersections, or the lack of internet connectivity, or other distracting points of interest. For example, Blindsquare repeatedly tells me the local park in which I'm picnicking while I'm trying to locate our table. And it's hard or impossible to get guided back to the point I marked.
The ideal app would let me record an audio note for each location as well as a text label. I could then select a point and it would give me cardinal directions until I returned to that point. The app wouldn't care if it was in airplane mode but if I requested it could back up my points to the cloud. It would not need the internet to function.
Does such an app exist? Does anyone know a developer who would write such an app? Maybe an app like BlindSquare could revert to this state if no internet was available simply by turning on airplane mode.
There are similar apps to help sighted people when camping or to find their parked car, and these apps do work in airplane mode. But they visually guide the person with arrows rather than spoken directions.
What are your thoughts?



Submitted by DPinWI on Friday, July 21, 2017

I would appreciate an app like this. I could see this being a boon on a campus, or shopping mall, or golf course... I could go on.

Submitted by JTran2013 on Friday, July 21, 2017

Have you tried an app called A Media Navi Rec? Here is the link to the app.

Amedia NaviRec by Amedia Corporation

I think your idea of an app sounds great! I enjoy hiking as well!

Submitted by Pa. Joe on Friday, July 21, 2017

I use Nearby explorer. I am in the woods a lot, and it keeps me from getting lost. I love it. It can only be as accurate as satellite reception. It brings me within 15 to 30 feet of my destination. At the same time I can check where I am according to other spots I save. To the best of my knowledge no app will take you right to a door. This doesn't matter for sighted people because they can look and see the target a long way off. H.T.H.

Submitted by Deborah Armstrong on Saturday, July 22, 2017

That link is to My Way classic. I'd spend the $14.95 if I knew it worked, but I never got the free version MyWay Lite to do anything useful. Did anyone ever do a guide or podcast, or can you perhaps give me some pointers?
As for NaviRec, it looks very close to what I want. My only issue is that it seems route-bound, but I need to try it. The idea that you can point your phone and it vibrates when you are pointing in the direction of your nearest checkpoint is quite useful, and its roaming mode lets you go off-route.
I do wonder if anyone has just used NaviRec for wandering around and then asked it to report on previously marked checkpoints (some apps call them waypoints). What I find frustrating is the use case of blind people always following routes. On the large campus where I work I go to different buildings every day and am not always taking a specific "route" just as sighted people park their car and need to return to it without getting lost but also not following a specific "route". I really want to be able to query the app at any time, independent of routes about checkpoints I've marked before and determine their location in reference to where I am at the moment. And also, I want to have the map guide me to any checkpoint I've chosen without my having to have specifically planned to take a "route" in advance.
Does NaviRec do this for you in its roaming mode?
As soon as it stops being 3-digit temperatures here my dog and I will venture out to try NaviRec. I'll report on it then. Meanwhile more discussion iswelcome. For example, can map-based apps like BlindSquare or Nearby Explorer do the same thing when there's no internet without constantly whining about the lack of a connection? I'm going camping next weekend in a place where I know there is neither cell service nor wi-fi.

Submitted by Chuck on Sunday, July 23, 2017

In reply to by Deborah Armstrong

You mentioned triple digit temperatures, I am in the Phoenix area. If you're anywhere near me, perhaps we could get together and figure out my way classic together. I have had some success with it, but it was a few years ago so I'm a bit rusty.

Submitted by Deborah Armstrong on Sunday, July 23, 2017

Well I'll transfer planes in the Phoenix airport in a few weeks but that's the extent of my visit. Maybe someone did a podcast on MyWay classic or lite, but I haven't found one yet. NaviRec seems to work as documented and I think the problem is that MyWay just isn't documented that well.

Submitted by Paige on Sunday, July 23, 2017

I also wish Navi Rec would let you pick a checkpoint that you want to go to from anywhere, although i kind of understand why. Since it's based on voice clips and there's not any voice clips about how to get to that point from anywhere, it wouldn't be able to play the correct one. But I still like it and find it useful.

Submitted by Pa. Joe on Sunday, July 23, 2017

Hi Joe from Pa. again. Nearby explorer works without cell service or internet. It beeps when you point it at your target, and the pitch of the beep gets higher as you get nearer. It's draw back is that it is expensive. I only know that I bought it with the hope that I could walk in the woods by myself, and it worked out beautiful. I am not trying to talk you into it. I am only passing on my experience.. best wishes

Submitted by Imaginingstuff on Monday, July 24, 2017

In reply to by Pa. Joe

I have used My Way Light for way points, but since BS does save this place and you can fill in the name, I don't use it any more. I doubt it would work without the net though.

Submitted by Debbie on Monday, July 24, 2017

Hi. Everything you said about the ideal app to navigate and locate so called off route destinations and markers is something I'd love to have myself as I'm in a similar situation to you. All credit to America who seem to be the top country for designing Blind aids, but does anything as great as the apps discussed here work in the UK? Thanks to Debra for suggesting the data testing method, but it would be nice to know that something worked "normally" in the UK. I'll be keeping a watch on this chat. Debbie

Submitted by Frankd on Monday, July 24, 2017

In reply to by DPinWI

A myWay Classic user here. As was previously noted the MyWay Classic documentation is hard work but with a little perseverance the app can be figured out and actually works quite well.
The app can do pretty much everything Deborah is looking for except for one requirement. Namely, if you wish to calculate a route to an arbitrary point you will need a data connection. However, if you simply need direction and distance to a point no data connection is required.

Submitted by Debbie on Monday, July 24, 2017

In reply to by Frankd

Hi Frank

Reading Debra's needs for a navigational tool and your remarks, I'm interested! Just wondered if this app works in the UK?


Submitted by Deborah Armstrong on Monday, July 24, 2017

Played a bit with NaviRec though still haven't tried it in airplane mode. One important tip: triple tap the Checkpoint button with a single finger to end a route. It says that in the documentation but when I was out and about I couldn't remember everything I read and I could not figure out how to finish my route recording. It would be good if that button had a user hint to remind voiceover users. If a sighted person is recording the route, they tap the mark checkpoint button once to make a checkpoint and twice to finish the route.
The recordings are awesome and when you try to follow a recorded route you do indeed hear the recording a few seconds before and/or after your checkpoints. The dureation can be adjusted in Settings. Or you can hear the whole recording through in replay. I practiced on my campus where you could hear students walking by conversing, heavy doors opening and slamming, students zooming by on skateboards, air compressors from the AC of different buildings and my guide dog's collar jingling, even his toenails clicking on the concrete. With binaural mics this might be pretty helpful for navigating.
When the app starts recording a route, it makes a regular drumbeat noise, kind of a cross between a buz and a drum and I don't know what that means. Possibly it's when it doesn't have a good signal. I was leaving the building which has skylights but it might have not been enough for a good signal at first.
I know assisted GPS depends on cell service, so Airplane mode might not work, but then again, I have an external GPS for the iPHONE that fastens around your wrist and I'll enhance airplane mode with that to see if it works.
I see no reason it wouldn't work in the U.K. or in the Australian outback for that matter, unless of course it does need cell service. It has no maps, and does not reference the internet for maps. It's you and your own personal checkpoints.
I did mark many checkpoints on my route and tried roaming, which does indicate nearest points. It's quite nice that you don't need to type anything in. I like that audio is how you mark the points. But I don't like that I'd have to make routes to a variety of destinations to just log all the points I might need in the future. You can delete routes easily; there's a big easy to find delete button and you can upload them to drop box to save room on your phone.
As for BlindSquare it is independent of routes, and does tell you the direction and distance to any favorites you've defined. But it complains constantly if there is minimal or no service. So it's a pain to use in a rural area or campsite. And it keeps telling you the name of the place -- yes I know I'm at RiverView sports park, so stop telling me when I'm trying to find our tent!
I do love, love love BlindSquare for navigating cities and riding in vehicles to see what I'm passing. It just doesn't work for finding my way in the woods.
Thanks for the feedback on nearby Explorer and MyWay; still have to play with them.
Right now my goal is to master these apps with the internet. In a few days I'll be camping with my Bluetooth keyboard and this phone but no internet and I'll log my impressions of that experience than, but of course they won't get posted here until I return.

Hello Debbie,
I don't know about the UK. The app uses Open Street Maps for street navigation which seem to work fine in my location in Canada. To use Open Street maps you download a map file for the area where you plan to use the app. In the list of available maps there are files for England, Scotland and Wales which suggests that the app should work in the UK. In addition to street navigation you can create your own files that are used to store your own custom waypoints or points of interest. For your custom points all you need for navigation is GPS coverage and should therefore work anywhere.

Submitted by Debbie on Thursday, July 27, 2017

Hi Frankd

Many thanks for doing the legwork to see if the ap is UK compatible. Sounds like it is, so I'm planning on giving it a try. I'll let you know how I get on!



Submitted by chris R on Thursday, July 27, 2017

Has nobody heard about loadstone around here? It's a GPS app that relies on locating yourself relative to points around you. You build your own database of points from scratch, although you can download open streatmap points or points from other Loadstone users if you wish.
It works by giving you direction and distance information for points around you, E.G. tent, 353 yards at 4 o'clock or reception, 1.03 miles to the West-South-West. You can check points that are important and get an alert when you approach and arrive at the point, the radius of these alerts is configurable. It does so much more as well, I love it. I've been using it on Symbian for years and it's just this week finally been released for Ios. It's still a bit clunky as it's just v1.0 but i'm very excited that I can use it on my iPhone now.
Link here:
Chris :-)

Submitted by Debbie on Thursday, July 27, 2017

I never thought there could be so many GPS apps out there! I'm relatively new to using GPS apps on my phone, probably because I'm too impatient to persevere! . Up until now, I've been a happy user of Trekker Breeze and although not particularly accurate, I got used to its anomalies and its served me well. However, it would be much handier now to use an app on my phone rather than carry around extra bulk. I just wondered if anyone could givbe me an idea of how much battery any of these apps may take up in say, an hour of continuous use? I'd like to think that I would still have enough battery left to phone for help if I got lost!

Also, a question for regular users - would you say a blue tooth earpiece or standard plugged in headphones are better? I like to think that I can hear my surroundings whilst also listening to navigational instructions or info.

I live in the UK, so I'm interested in apps that work in this country.

HTH. Thanks.


Submitted by DPinWI on Thursday, July 27, 2017

On a typical 1 hour walk, using Nearby Explorer and Zombies Run, both with GPS enabled, while also listening to music, and all over blue tooth to my headphones, my iPhone 7's battery will drop about 10 percent.

I hope that helps Debbie.

Submitted by Debbie on Thursday, July 27, 2017

In reply to by DPinWI

Many thanks for the info. Based on what you use, I think I'll have plenty of battery to spare. Cheers! Debbie

Submitted by Roxann Pollard on Thursday, July 27, 2017

Hello Debbie:

The bone conduction Bluetooth ear pieces are best when navigating outside because they do not block your ear from comprehending your surroundings but yet you receive the feedback from your device while using GPS or any other app with sound such as music or books. I have no brand recommendations but this version of an ear piece should solve your issue.


Thank you, Roxann for your feedback. My past experiences of bone conduction earphones have not been that great. All the pairs I have ordered have had solid plastic bands which have not been adjustable and thus not very comfortable or easy to wear. However, what you say makes sense, so perhaps I should go shopping and feel what they're like rather than ordering online!

Many thanks.


Submitted by Deborah Armstrong on Monday, July 31, 2017

Since I don't have bone conduction headphones, I use this technique. I have an iPHONE case that was some generic thing I bought at a discount store. From the outside it makes my phone look like one of those freebies you get with a discount carrier. To the case, I've sewed elastic bands, a skinny version of the same stretchy band you find in the waistbands for skirts or pants. On to the closed loop of the stretchy band I've sewn a sturdy clip, the kind one uses on keychains to fasten your keys to a purse or pocket. I wrap the band around the phone in its case to keep it secure and insure it can't fall out and I can clip the clip to anywhere on my clothing. I usually clip it on to my shoulder, close to my ear. Now I can hear the navigation but nothing is blocking my hearing.
I tried Nearby explorer on my camping trip last weekend and was delighted. It does indeed work in airplane mode, and you can turn off announcements of roads and places so I didn't have to repeatedly hear the name of the campground, the city and the major highway we were relatively near. I used it to find my tent, the picnic tables, the potty, the fire ring where we met for meals and a set of dangerous rocks my friends were afraid I would get tangled up in. Because you can set it to watch locations it can tell you both your heading and where the watched locations are in reference to your heading. I am using a beta version of the product, but all the features I used on the camping trip were available in the released version so I'm not violating any NDA. The beta version is free until it expires for those interested in trying before buying. It publicly available manual offers a beta-testing link. And the manual is superbly written with enough detail for even those new to GPS apps for the blind.
Lastly, Loadstone-gps was my go-to app for symbian as well. So glad it has come to iDEVICES and I'll certainly download and try it soon.

Submitted by zdenek on Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Hello, when I searched for novi rec, or amedia corporation, it showed results written in chinese? Is the app in English? Many thanks. Also where can I download nearby explorer?