My Positive Experiences With Nearby Explorer
We have a camp out in the woods where there is no cell service. I was able to mark the camp using the G.P.S. with near by explorer. I walked a half mile in the woods, and found my way back to camp using the compass, and geo beam. I can't imagine why the app isn't being advertised for its rural capabilities. I for one am pleased. Just needed to share.
I will be back to hiking in the Spring, and will definitely give this a try.
Disclaimers: I have not purchased Nearby Explorer yet; I'm a beta-tester. However, I will only discuss features in the released version.
Disclaimer number 2: usually when I review something, I have a few complaints; things the developer could have done better. That's not true with this app. I am not affiliated with APH nor do I personally know anyone working there. But I also love Studio Recorder,and feel such a well-developed product also needs positive publicity!
I've been using GPS software since 1997 when I purchased a used GPS-Talk for $800. This was the laptop with the Windows PC in the backpack and the stand-alone Magellan GPS. I remember we drove across the country and I attempted to direct my husband to a park; it took us to a duck pond instead. I kept telling him to drive straight ahead and he said he couldn't unless I wanted to swim with the ducks!
In all fairness, GPS-Talk worked well for pedestrian navigating and it helped me explore my neighborhood as well as cities we visited. However it would crash if I was in a car; it would not give me routes over five miles, and once it was following a route, I couldn't look around or take an alternate route if my way was blocked. And of course, it was useless if I wasn't on a road!
Later I used Loadstone-GPS extensively on my Symbian phone, filling it with thousands of hand-gathered points of interest. I outlived three guide dogs while using that app!
Then I got an iPHONE and tried all the free apps, bought and used Navigon for a while. Eventually, I bought and settled on BlindSquare, but found the experience with all of them less than satisfying. Apps either told me too much or too little. They announced intersections too early or too late. They depended on map data that was not accurate, or the internet when I had no connection. Though I still love BlindSquare, I am often in suburban areas where there isn't much there for it to comment on, or I am in cities where there is too much data I don't need. I know how to turn features on and off in BlindSquare of course, but it never really fit my navigation style. In particular, I disliked that I couldn't explore a map to find out what streets were nearby and when I was on the highway it kept telling me about streets that were not anywhere near the highway exits, while not telling me about those all-important exits. I also didn't like having to go to another app for directions. And as I commented in other posts here, it was also useless off-road for example if I was in a business park, city park, parking lot or anything called a park!
When I decided to test Nearby Explorer, my expectations were pretty low. I was set to go camping with friends, followed by a trip to visit family on a farm in the Midwest: both situations where net connectivity would be flaky or not exist. But prior to the week I left, I took it for a spin on local streets, and began to fall in love. Unlike other apps, it was trivial to toggle what I did and did not want to hear about my location. I could also switch between both address and point of interest providers, a real boon when google places gave me too much info or onboard maps didn't give me enough. It was easy to get or reject directions and I wasn't locked in to a route.
The true love affair blossomed on my camping trip. We were scattered across a semi-cleared area deep in the redwood forest. Besides trees, my dog had to zig-zag around tents, folding picnic tables, coolers, permanent picnic tables, huge boulders, a firepit and my friends all lounging about in various positions of comfort. We had porta-potties, but my dog would forget that's where we were headed and go exploring! After all when a dog has to go, in the forest, the potty is anywhere!
My first night I left my tent at 3 AM, and attempted to find the potty. A half hour later we were hiking up some road, and so lost I had no idea in which direction the campground lay. I listened, but couldn't hear my friends snorring. No cars, no people, and though my vision isn't good enough a flashlight would have helped, I could tell it was pitch black and so nobody was going to find me either! Luckily that also meant my dog and I could use the same potty, there outdoors, which we both did. But I was still very, very lost!
Then I remembered I'd marked my tent while showing Nearby Explorer to a friend. There was no cell signal, but Nearby explorer told me it was three quarters of a mile at five o'Clock. Using the geo-beam, I easily returned to my tent. Next morning, I asked my friend to help me find the potty and I added it to my favorites. Hurray! Now I wasn't lost and I didn't need to impose on my sighted friends any more for help!
Next week, I was at my in-laws' farm in Indiana. Stuffing my phone in a zip-lock to keep it clean I could help harvest crops and return to the farmhouse unaided. Later, walking in the city, I found Michaels, Hobby Lobby and several other places I needed for shopping and fun. For these, I did use google places, but it was fun to know that having the internet was a bonus and not a requirement!
We suddenly found ourselves needing to go to a funeral in Ohio. I have never been to Ohio and being the only blind person in the family, my in-laws kindly assured me I did not need to help navigate. But somewhere forty miles west of Dayton, we lost our cell signal. Three of us had phones, but nobody had access to a map, and their GPS signals seemed to depend on cell access. On my iPHONE SE, the GPS works even if there is no service, so I pulled up Nearby Explorer, entered the address of the church and we were back in business! We got to the funeral in plenty of time, despite a looping highway that wound around Dayton,first taking us North then South when our ultimate destination was supposedly East. My family was grateful and I vowed I was going to buy this app when the beta period ended and would start budgeting for it immediately!
Now that I've returned home to California, I've been playing with the virtual go-to features quite a bit, and love the way I can follow roads, or not follow them to locate a favorite. I love the "watch" feature which can tell me where some favorite is in relation to my current or virtual location, and I love the two modes of geo-beam that show you kinnesthetically where you are located in relation to points of interest in two different ways. The demonstration on the Applevis extra 45 was particularly helpful and refined my use of the geo-beam feature. And I love the context menus, which hide a whole bushel of features under a deceptively simple interface!
I think the thing I like most about Nearby Explorer is how it works the way I do. Someone sat down and really thought about all the use cases blind travelers encounter. Rather than being based on features, this app has an interface geared to moving around, sometimes on roads, sometimes not,sometimes fully connected to the net and sometimes not. I feel like I could takethis app to rural Gillroy or urban San Francisco and be equally satisfied.
I echo all of the above, and have settled on this app as my primary GPS. As stated, it works the way I do.
But, unlike Debra, I do have one gripe. When the street I am travelling on changes name at an intersection, the cross street is not announced until i am crossing it. Unless I know this beforehand, and listen for the street name change, I can get off route. It has happened on several occasions when walking in uncharted territory.
While it is a gripe, I must also note that if I wasn't as happy as I am with the app, I would not be readily venturing off into uncharted territories.
Despite this minor issue, I wholeheartedly recommend this app.