Useful New Apps

Nearby Explorer Online (iOS, Free)

Nearby Explorer Online is a free indoor and outdoor location app designed for use by people who are blind. It works okay in the UK but is unable to link up with any of our transport apps. It works much like the full featured Nearby Explorer app, that is available in the USA and Canada but it does not include NAVTEQ on-board maps.

The app works by letting you select from several different location related options about what to announce as you move. These include typical items like street name, address, and nearby places as well as the distance and direction to them. (All announcements are optional.) All of this information is shown on the home screen and is available at any time, but typical use is to adjust the level of announcements, then lock the screen and put the device away. This keeps both hands free and lets your preferred voice speak the characteristics of the environment as you move. You may also use the devices position and orientation to obtain additional targeted details such as pointing the end of the device to scan for points of interest or tilting it vertically to function as a compass. This all works with the device locked, so one need not fuss with the touch screen while moving. You may even mark a point, and then use the position of the device to get haptic feedback about that point’s location. It is a free app and well worth trying out if you need to know where you are at any given time.


As yet, Seeing AI from Microsoft, one of the new scanning apps that many blind people are raving about, is not available in the UK. However, a new free app called Envision AI is and can be extremely useful for accessing text on the move or at home. In addition to reading text, you can train the app to recognise faces and it will also attempt to describe the contents of any photograph taken. There are four options on the main screen once open; train faces and objects, give feedback to the developers, read text and take a photograph If you cannot afford KNFB Reader for your IPhone and until Microsoft’s Seeing AI is available in the UK, it might be worth you trying this app out. If you want to see the apps working, please contact us to arrange a suitable time to come and see them in action.