Updated October 5, 2020
GoodMaps Explore is a mobile navigation app that gives an accessible picture of your surrounding environment, indoors and outdoors using Voiceover. Built from the ground up for people who are blind or visually impaired, Explore is optimized for on-screen gestures with mobile screen readers (Apple’s Voiceover). Explore provides you with location information while you move through Indoor Venues or outdoor spaces. Explore will notify you outdoors of your direction, nearest address, cross street, and nearby points of interest (POIs). The following tutorials are available individually on the “More” page of the app or when you launch the app for the first time. Explore’s primary pages are located on four tabs on the navigation bar at the bottom of the screen. Happy navigating!
First-time downloaders, go through the Welcome tutorial. At the conclusion of the tutorial, you will see a Location and Bluetooth services permission requests and a safety disclaimer, select okay to proceed to the standard Apple location permissions prompt. You can select “Only” While Using the App or “Don’t allow.” If you select Don’t allow, the app will not load and you will be redirected to the iPhone Settings, Explore app to “allow location while using the app” or “always allow.” Next, you will need to read through the safety disclaimer (User Acknowledgements) and select the checkbox that states that you have read and agree with the statement. If you do not accept the safety disclaimer, you will need to use the task switcher to close the app. The app will not load without giving permission to use locations and accepting the safety disclaimer.
Camera permission will be requested the first time you enter a mapped building. You will hear, GoodMaps Explore would like to access the camera. GoodMaps Explore uses the camera’s augmented reality tools to obtain accurate location information indoors. GoodMaps never records videos, takes photos or stores camera data.
Quickly search from the Location page. Search for points of interest (POIs), specific addresses, or general POI categories like “lunch”. Once you select a search result, you have the option of route directions, exploring virtually, or adding the item to favorites.
The Favorites Page is the second tab on the navigation bar. You can favorite points of interest (POIs) to make them easier to come back to. Favorited POIs will appear visually with a star and will be announced as “favorite” on the LookAround or Location screens. Access your Favorites by going to the Favorites page.
Routing is available outdoors through the external Apple or Google link selections. From within a supported indoor venue, navigate to points of interest (POIs) using step-by-step routing. To do this, select a POI from search results, nearby POI, or Lookaround and choose “Directions” from the options list. Before starting a trip, you’ll see a preview of each instruction, total walking time, and distance. As you move along a route, GoodMaps Explore will notify you of upcoming turns and confirm that you’re on the right path. If you have trouble finding the exact destination, you could launch a visual assistance app like Be My Eyes from the More tab within Explore to receive sighted assistance.
The Location Page is the first tab on the navigation bar. The Location information is announced when you open Explore with focus on the Search field. If you are outside, this location information periodically notifies you of your direction, nearest address, nearby POIs and the nearby cross street. If you’re inside, Location will include the room name, direction, and nearby POI information. Select the POI name to hear POIs nearby. To get Location information, shake your phone. Shake must be enabled under the Configuration page.
Select the Lookaround Page, which is the third tab on the navigation bar. Face the top edge of the phone in the direction of choice to hear points of interest and intersections in that direction. You will notice a slight vibration every 30 degrees as you rotate the phone around the compass, at which point the compass direction will be announced, Northwest, etc. The information will be presented in order of proximity. Hold the phone steady in a given direction to keep announcing information further and further away in that direction. If there are no intersections or POIs in the direction you are pointing, you will hear the phrase “nothing in range.” Select a POI to get more details and options.
Use Virtual Mode to explore outdoors and indoors from the comfort of home. When you hear a POI announced, choose it and flick down to the Virtual option. You must first load an indoor venue before you can choose from its POIs. To virtually move around, select a nearby POI and the, “Make this my virtual location” option. You can get directions to a POI, explore nearby POIs, and add favorites, just like you would if you were physically at that location. When you’re finished, select “Exit Virtual Mode” to return to your current active location. To see a list of indoor venues, select from the list on the More tab.
Once you select a POI and are on the details screen for that POI, tap the POI distance field to hear the distance and heading as the crow flies, line of sight, or as we call it, Getting Warmer to your POI destination. If you keep focus on that distance field, you will automatically receive periodic updates as you approach that POI destination. Tap the distance field anytime to hear the distance and direction to the Getting Warmer destination. Getting Warmer is available in both outdoor and indoor Venues and can be useful in orienting generally to your destination as an option to using turn-by-turn route directions from Google or Apple Maps.
- Shake It: You can shake the phone to trigger the Location information. Shake is turned off by default and can be enabled from the More tab under Configuration. The iPhone shake intensity is variable. The easiest shake is when the phone is on edge using a rocking motion. If you put your phone in a pocket or holster on your belt, it may trigger frequently as you walk.
The shake works on the Location screen and when you are on the Nearby POI details.
- Heading: When you are moving, your direction of travel will be announced as Heading. It doesn’t matter which way the phone is facing when you are moving.
- Facing: When you are stationary, you will hear directions using the word Facing. It may take five seconds after stopping to switch from heading to facing, which means the way the phone is pointed as opposed to your direction of travel.
- Cross streets and intersections: In Lookaround, you will hear the heading and distance to nearby intersections. Both intersecting street names will be announced. The longer you point in a given direction, the further away you will hear information.
Cross streets are announced on the Location screen. You may first hear an announcement of the upcoming cross street around 150 feet from it. As you approach that same cross street, you may hear, “near Main Street.” You can always shake the phone if shake is enabled or you can touch the screen to hear the location information including the cross street if one was announced. Note that some intersections appear as POIs because they were created by a Foursquare user.
- While walking: Typically, you would select the Location tab while walking although Lookaround will also work when you are moving. You may hear nearby POIs either behind you or in front of you depending on how far away they are. You will hear the compass direction you are heading and the nearest street address. When you are at an intersection, the nearest cross street address may actually be on the cross street so don’t be confused. The actual cross street will also be announced by name without a number once or twice per block. You can tell the difference because the cross street announcement won’t have an address number, just the street name.
- No Background operation: Explore must be in the foreground to be active. You will not hear Explore announcements if you lock your phone or switch to a different app. You can make or receive a phone call and still hear Explore announcements, however. Background operation may be offered in the future. Note that you can save battery drain by clearing Explore or any GPS app from the background with the app switcher when you are not using it.
- Favorites: There is currently no mechanism for saving your favorites list should you delete Explore or change phones. Be aware of this as you tag favorite POIs. It is on our list to save favorites in a future version.
- Clipped speech: If you are using Bluetooth headphones, the first syllable of a Voiceover announcement may be cut off after the phone has been silent for a few seconds. This is an artifact of the phone and nothing to do with the app.
- Questionable English: If you are using the Alex Voiceover voice, you will hear some distances given as foot instead of feet. Other voices may not make this English mistake.