GoodMaps Explore User Guide

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GoodMaps Explore is a mobile navigation app that gives an accessible picture of the surroundings, indoors and outdoors, using speech and Braille output. 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 and Android’s Talkback). Explore provides 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 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 can get directions, add as a Getting Warmer POI, explore virtually, or add it 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 verbally as “favorite” on the LookAround and 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. 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 45 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” and there will be no vibration. Select a POI to get more details about it and to hear options like setting as a Favorite, destination or virtual position.

Virtual Mode

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.

Getting Warmer

Once you select a POI and are on the details screen for that POI, you can get indications of the distance and direction by tapping the Make Getting Warmer POI option. You can then hear periodic announcements based on the frequency setting under Configuration as to that 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.

User Tips

  1. 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 triggers on the Location and Nearby screens.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. While walking: Typically, you would have the Location tab selected and would use Lookaround when stationary. 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 intersecting street so don’t be confused. The actual cross street will also be announced by name without a number based on your proximity to the intersection. You can tell the difference because the cross street announcement won’t have an address number, just the street name.
  6. Battery conservation: You can save battery drain by clearing Explore or any GPS app from the background with the app switcher when you are not using the app.
  7. Outdoor and Indoor routing: Currently, when you wish to set an indoor point as your destination, you must first create a route to the building entrance. When you arrive, you will be asked if you want to switch to indoor navigation in that building. Once you say Yes, you can set a specific point in that building as your destination and will hear the route prompts to it. The same will happen in reverse. You will be prompted when you leave the building if you wish to switch to Outdoor mode.
  8. Running multiple apps and Explore in the Background: Once you pick a destination, you can set it as Getting Warmer, as a route or as both. The external route choices in Explore are either Apple or Google. Note that once those external apps are launched with your destination, you need to press Start or Go on Apple or Google for the route directions to begin. Once you do that, you will hear turning directions whether that app is in the foreground or background. You may also wish to have the Getting Warmer Explore position repeating every minute to help you feel confident you are headed in the general direction. Both app voices can operate in the background while you are in a 3rd application. If you make or take a call or if you use Siri, the Explore background voice may stop. If so, go back into Explore and the announcements will resume. If you have Google or Apple open, you will hear both their voice and Voiceover. It is less confusing to let those external apps run in the background so you don’t have too many Voiceover announcements at the same time. The Explore benefits are announcement of details about current address, POIs and intersections. The benefit of the external route directions is that you are told where to turn. Those external apps do not announce the details between turns, which Explore announces. It is ideal to use the two apps in combination. Again, set a destination, pick it as Getting Warmer, choose external directions and then go back to Explore or another app. Go into More, Configuration, Location Information to set notification frequency. Best to return to the Explore Location screen to resume announcements.

Known Quirks

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. POI Editing: There is currently no option to edit the name of a Favorite User POI so double check the name before you select Save.

Learn more about GoodMaps Explore.