Members of the RNIB Technology for Life staff and volunteer team are early adopters of new technology.
Here they share their own experiences with the most interesting and useful navigation apps in a series of reviews.
Chris Turner, TFL Coordinator, "Both Google Maps and Apple Maps operate the same way. Depending which platform you’re on, Android or iOS, ask your phone to give you walking directions to somewhere, for example. You then just need to locate the start button and double tap it, if you’re using a screenreader and you will then get turn by turn instructions as you move. Be aware of course, neither can tell you about obstacles on route but to hear street turnings, these are the go to built in solution."
Mark Wilson, Essex Coordinator for RNIB and a helper for lots of other clubs and charities, "I have used Google Maps for many years. When I first joined RNIB as a volunteer, I used it to work out routes to people’s houses so I could try to fix technology whatever was broken. It has proved useful in telling me how many miles away the person is. I only ride a small motorcycle and Google Maps tells me the easiest way to get places using shortcuts. I have also used the app to print off routes to family events so my father, who normally drives the family around, has a piece of paper that my mum can use to inform him which way to go. He has a good sense of direction, but he likes the map that goes with the step by step instructions. I like the app. There may be better ones, but I have got used to using this one, and it’s free and very helpful."
Paul Webster, TFL Volunteer, "I have used Google Maps for helping me navigate from the tube or bus stop to where I am going. I appreciate the spoken instructions as well, like, "Turn left in 25 yards". I have also used it in other countries like Spain and France to navigate where I was and how to get back to our hotel.
"Google Maps depends on a cellular data link. It can also use considerable amounts of chargeable data allowance. I found my data allowance was used up on one trip and I had to buy more data at the time for my cellphone at a rate of £5 to £10 for a data top-up! Because Google Maps depends on access to the cellular network, it can suddenly stop if a signal is weak or lost.
"I have found in forest areas, like Epping Forest, that cellular connection disappears and Google Maps no longer functions. I can remember stopping the car and getting out an old Garmin satnav from a bag in the boot of the car to find out where I was and get directions to continue our journey. We were a bit lost when Google Maps stopped working. A satnav like a Garmin unit will normally continue to work. The limitations of cellular networks is the reason in my car I use a Garmin Drive 50 which just uses satnav with no connection to the cellular networks and no data charge."
Kamil Idzio, TFL Volunteer, "I only use these apps for checking a route. I tried to use Google Maps on iOS, but it announced the destination 30 meters before I was there, so it can be dificult. I find Google Maps also has quite poor accuracy and loses GPS signal easilly.
"It does offer information about things like telephone numbers, websites, sometimes even the menu of a restaurant. User comments and reviews can also be very helpful to get information about interesting places."
Madleen Bluhm, TFL Coordinator, "Google Maps is easy, it's free and it's quick. The maps are up to date, which is very important for me when I'm outside."
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