User Guide

Lire le guide de l’Utilisateur en Français

BlindSquare is a solution that makes use of the latest features available in smartphones to aid the blind and visually impaired in their daily lives. It has been developed and tested in close cooperation with blind and visually impaired users. BlindSquare is available for iPhone and iPad in the App Store.
Using your iOS-device’s GPS capabilities, BlindSquare determines your location and looks up information about your surrounding on Foursquare and Open Street Map. It then ascertains the information most useful to you and speaks it in a clear, synthetic voice. It can inform you about shops, restaurants, public buildings, and parks in your vicinity. It will also tell you when you approach a street intersection. You can use it to determine the address of your current location, find places of interest near you, get alerted when you reach places, and save your own places in BlindSquare. You can also use BlindSquare in conjunction with other navigation apps such as Navigon, TomTom, the free Google Maps, and the iOS maps app installed on each iOS-device. These third-party apps can provide spoken turn-by-turn directions, while BlindSquare can inform you about your surrounding and upcoming street intersections.
BlindSquare can go a long way towards helping you to travel more independently, but it will never substitute good orientation and traveling skills. GPS-readings can be unreliable depending on the quality of your GPS-reception. Be sure to use your best judgment when deciding if BlindSquare’s information is correct in a given situation.
This documentation is divided into two parts. While the first offers an overview on how you can use BlindSquare efficiently to complement your traveling skills, the second part describes in-depth all of BlindSquare’s features, and is structured in accordance with the app interface.
Please note that instructions in this documentation assume that VoiceOver is active. This means for example, that buttons have to be double-tapped to be activated. If you do not use VoiceOver, please use the regular iOS gestures to operate BlindSquare.

Prerequisites

To use BlindSquare, you require either an iPhone 4 or later, or an iPad 3G or later. Since BlindSquare retrieves information about your surroundings over the Internet, you will also need a data plan. We estimate that BlindSquare on average uses 1 mb of data per hour while it is active. This value can increase if you send many search queries or if you are mainly in a vehicle, as your increased speed will cause BlindSquare to query the Foursquare and Open Street Map servers more frequently.

Getting Started

When you launch BlindSquare for the first time, you will see a disclaimer asking you always to rely on your orientation and traveling skills, because the accuracy of BlindSquare’s information cannot be guaranteed. If you are using BlindSquare in a language that is not supported by the speech synthesizer voices that come with iOS, the next screen will inform you that in order to be fully functional, BlindSquare needs to download and install an additional voice. If you are not connected to a Wi-Fi network, it will ask you if you would like to use your cellular phone network to perform the download. If you agree, the voice will download onto your device. If you disagree, you will be asked again when you are connected to a Wi-Fi network. When the download has started, you will see a screen informing you about the progress. Once the voice download has completed, BlindSquare will speak using the new voice.

Exploring Your Environment

Using BlindSquare, you have a wealth of information about your environment at your fingertips, and there are different ways to access it.

As soon as you start BlindSquare, it will announce some of the nearest places around you, along with their distance and direction. These can be either points of interest (poi) or places that you have saved to BlindSquare. To influence how many places BlindSquare reads to you, you can increase or decrease the radius. The radius slider is located beneath the row of buttons at the top of the main screen. When you have touched the slider, swipe up with one finger to increase the radius and down to decrease it. As you increase the BlindSquare radius, you will hear places read to you that are further away from you, whereas selecting a smaller radius will only return locations closer to you.

Alternatively, you can also use the Look Around feature. To activate it, double-tap the Tools button in the top row of buttons on the main screen and activate the Look Around button. Now you can point your phone in different directions to hear not only the POI and saved places, but also the street intersections that are located there. Have the top edge of your device point in the direction you are interested in. If you want to hear what is located to the north of you, the top edge of your phone should face north, and the edge near the Home button should face south. As you change directions, you will hear a sound notifying you that you are now facing a different direction. If your internet connection is slower than 3G, it can take a moment for BlindSquare to retrieve the information and read it to you. Please note that the Look Around feature is also affected by the radius setting. If you have selected a small radius, BlindSquare will only announce places in your immediate vicinity. If you want Look Around also to read places that are further away from you, please increase the radius accordingly. Shake your device to exit Look Around mode.

Once you have been walking after BlindSquare was opened, you can also launch Look Around via the Audio Menu. BlindSquare will then determine cardinal directions using your direction of movement. Your device can remain in your pocket, and you can simply turn so you face the direction you are interested in. Use the Audio Menu to exit Look Around mode again.

Walking with BlindSquare

BlindSquare has been developed with maximum ease of use in mind. If you would like to get an idea of how it works when you are on the go, you can just launch it and go for a walk. If you are walking in an area that is sufficiently covered by Foursquare and Open Street Map, you should now hear BlindSquare announce upcoming street intersections and points of interest around you. If you want to know where you are, just shake your phone and BlindSquare will announce your current address and possibly the next intersection and the nearest point of interest. The shake gesture will only work if your screen is unlocked.

During your First walk with BlindSquare, you may have been given too much or too little information about your surroundings. BlindSquare is highly customizable, allowing you to change its options to suit your preferences and your current environment.

Filtering Information

Imagine that you would like to go shopping for clothes, but do not know yet which shops you want to visit. As you walk through the city, you might want BlindSquare only to read places in the Shop & Service category to you, because that is the only information you need. To modify which information is spoken, find the Filter Announcements button in the top row of buttons on the main screen and double-tap it to open the Filter Announcements screen. The bottom half of this screen lists all of the place categories available on Foursquare. By default all of them are active. Double-tap the Deselect All button in the bottom right of the screen. Now find the Shops & Service category and activate it by double-tapping. Subsequently you can close the Filter Announcements screen by double-tapping the Back button or performing the scrub gesture. Now that you have deactivated all of the other categories, BlindSquare will be able to read out more shops to you as you are on your way, because it does not receive information about cafés, sights, doctors’ offices, etc. When you have finished shopping, you might want to have a snack. You can now go to the Filter Announcements screen again, locate the Shops & Service category and deselect it by double-tapping. If you select the Food category now, BlindSquare will only announce restaurants, cafés, etc. as you walk. If all of the Foursquare categories had been selected, it would not be able to read out all of the listings in the Food category.

If you want to check which BlindSquare categories are active, just touch the Filter Announcements button. VoiceOver will announce all of the categories you may have deselected. To revert to the default setting and activate all of the categories, open the Filter Announcements screen and double-tap the Select All button in the bottom left of the screen.

The Shake Gesture

When you walk with BlindSquare, it is essential that you are able to access important information such as your current location quickly and easily. If you shake your device while BlindSquare is running, you will hear a sound to indicate that theBlindSquare has registered the shake. BlindSquare will then announce your current address, the nearest street intersection, and, if available, the nearest Foursquare venue. You can configure the Shake Gesture to check you in to Foursquare venues and read pedometer information i.e. how long and far you have walked. Go to Other, Settings, Shake Gesture Settings to select your preferred options. Please note that the shake gesture will only work as long as your screen is not locked.

Searching for Places

BlindSquare offers two search methods, the Search and the Category Search. While the former lets you perform a customized search, the latter is the fastest method to quickly and easily find specific kinds of places in your immediate vicinity, such as shops, restaurants, and public transport.

When you double-tap the Search button, the search screen will open. There you can enter a place name or an address you would like to search. Hit Search to start searching. BlindSquare will now search Foursquare and Apple Maps for the terms you have entered. If you have given it access to your contacts, the name, company name, and address fields in your contacts can be searched as well. If you want to search for a contact, it is sufficient to just enter a few characters of the name followed by a space and the first few characters of the company name or street address; just enter some of the information you remember. If the address or terms you have entered have been found, you will see a list of search results. Double-tap any of them to open the Place Summary screen. There you can see more information about the place, add the place to My Places, track the place, and start a third-party navigation app to hear turn-by-turn directions to this place. To learn more about these features, please see the section about the Place Summary screen.

Below the list of search results you will see a list of categories. These are the categories that the places in your search results list belong to. If you for instance search for McDonald’s, you will see the Fast Food and Burger Joint categories below the list of search results. If you now double-tap one of them, you will see a list of other places that also fall into the same category.

When you open the Search screen after you have performed at least one search, it will also display your search history, which contains the last 30 search terms you have entered. Should you wish to repeat one of your previous searches, just double-tap the respective search history entry. This will put the terms into the edit box so you can edit them if you require any changes. Double-tap Search to perform a search for your modified keywords.

Instead of entering your own search terms, you can also list all of the places around you that belong to a Foursquare category of your choice. The Foursquare categories are listed on the main screen.

When you double-tap one of the Category buttons, BlindSquare will present you with a screen that lists all of the places that fall into this category and that are within your currently selected radius.

The screen displays three lists:

  1. Places sorted according to their popularity on Foursquare.
  2. Places sorted according to their distance from you.
  3. A list of subcategories that belong to the current main category.

Each of these three lists has a heading. If you set your VoiceOver rotor to headings, you can quickly jump to the list that is of interest to you by swiping up or down.

You can now double-tap the entry you would like to view. If you double-tap one of the subcategories, you will be taken to another screen that again lists all of the places that are in this subcategory. For example, double-tap the Travel & Transport main category. On the following screen, you will see a list of stations, hotels, and bus stops etc. that are in your vicinity. The list of subcategories contains items such as Airport, Bus Station, Hotel, and Train Station. If you are only interested in places of one subcategory, just open the respective subcategory to view a list of those places.

Filtering Lists of Places

Regardless of whether you have performed a Category Search, a Text Search, or are viewing the My Places list, you can filter the places shown by different criteria. When in a list of places, tap the Action button in the top right corner of the screen to bring up the filter options.

The following criteria are available:

  • Filter by Search Term: This lets you filter the listed Places by any search term you like.

  • Filter by Distance: You can enter a minimum and a maximum distance here. This will display all places within the specified range.

  • Filter by Categories: BlindSquare will show you some categories the places you are viewing fall into. These could for example be Foursquare categories, My Places, addresses, or contacts. The categories displayed here will vary and depend on the kinds of places in the list shown. When you tap one of them, you will only see places that fall into your chosen category.

You can apply a second filter to a filtered list. You can, for example, filter a list of restaurants by distance. Once restaurants within a certain range are displayed, you can filter them by the kind of restaurant you are interested in. When a filter has been applied, and you double-tap the Action button, you will also see an option to remove the filters currently active.

Using BlindSquare in Vehicles

If you ride on a train, GPS reception may vary depending on how the train is built. On underground trains, you might not be able to receive a GPS signal. To ensure the best GPS reception, we recommend that you sit near a window if you can.

Depending on the country and city where you use BlindSquare, many public transport stops might already be recorded on Foursquare. You can

  1. Search for them using the search feature and entering keywords
  2. Perform a category search in Travel & Transport. If the distance to your required stop is larger than your currently set radius, you should simulate an address near your stop and perform the category search from this simulated location.

When you have found your stop, you can track it to have BlindSquare announce the direction and distance from time to time. Alternatively, you can also add it to your My Places list and define an Alert Distance. The Alert Distance option will draw a circle around the stop. As soon as you arrive in this circle, BlindSquare will indicate that you are near your stop. To set an alert Distance, double-tap the Edit button in the top right corner of the Place Summary screen. If the Edit button is dimmed, you will first have to activate the Favorite switch button in the center of the Place Summary screen. On the Edit screen, double-tap the Alert Distance switch button. When you activate it, the VoiceOver focus will be placed in a text field where you can enter a value. This will be your alert distance in your default distance unit that you have selected in the BlindSquare settings. If you enter 20, your alert distance will be 20 meters if your default distance unit is meters, or feet if your default distance unit is feet. For public transport stops, we recommend that you enter 200 meters or 660 feet, so you have enough time to get off the vehicle when you arrive.

Even if your stop has not yet been recorded in Foursquare, you will still have a rough idea of your whereabouts, because street intersections will be read as they pass.

BlindSquare and Indoor Navigation via BPS

BlindSquare BPS stands for BlindSquare Beacon Positioning System. It is an indoor navigation system developed for BlindSquare. The BPS consists of iBeacons installed in a building. These are small, low energy Bluetooth devices. Each of them broadcasts a unique ID that can be received by smartphones. BlindSquare then uses the ID to look up the information linked to the iBeacon.

If you want to use a BlindSquare BPS, you should turn on Bluetooth in your device settings. You also should switch on Beacon Detection in BlindSquare in Other, Settings, Bluetooth Settings.

BPS uses two kinds of iBeacons: Mobile and stationary. While mobile iBeacons can be installed in moving objects such as busses or cars, stationary iBeacons are mostly used in buildings. On the BlindSquare Filter screen, you can activate and deactivate messages from mobile and stationary beacons separately.

As soon as you enter the range of an iBeacon that is part of a BlindSquare BPS, you will hear information about your surroundings. You can hear this information again by shaking your device, selecting Your Location in the Tools menu, or by selecting My Location in the Audio Menu. An iBeacon may also provide information about what is located in different directions. You can point your device in different directions to hear these messages if they are available.

If a desk, a door, or any other object you are interested in has been marked with an iBeacon, you may use the Beacon Radar to locate it. Activate it under Tools, Beacon Radar.

When it is active while no iBeacon is in reach, a sequence of three beeps will be played in decreasing volume. As soon as an iBeacon appears in your range, BlindSquare will play faster beeps in a lower pitch. The closer the iBeacon is to you, the faster the beeps will be played. For example, if a reception desk has been marked with an iBeacon, you can locate the desk by moving in the direction where the beeps are played faster.

To switch off Beacon Radar, go to Tools, Stop Beacon Radar.

Marking Places

BlindSquare not only notifies you of public points of interest (POI) around you, but it also lets you save your own private points and reports them to you when you are near them. You can save places such as your friend’s home, important points on a route you walk regularly, or public transport stops that have not yet been recorded on Foursquare. When you save points in BlindSquare, they appear on the My Places list.

Saving Your Current Location

If you are at the location that you want to save to BlindSquare, find the Add Place button on the main screen. It is the second in the top row of buttons. Double-tap it to open the Place Edit Screen. BlindSquare will automatically copy your current address or the name of the closest intersection into the name field, but you can also insert a name of your choice. If you want to set an Alert Distance for your place, activate the Alert Distance switch button and enter the distance in the text field.

This will be your Alert Distance in your default distance unit that has been selected in the BlindSquare Settings. If you enter 20, your alert distance will be 20 meters if your default distance unit is meters, or feet if your default distance unit is feet.

The alert distance will cause BlindSquare to inform you when your distance to the place is equal or lower than the value you have assigned as an Alert Distance to this place. You can imagine it as a circle around the place. The place is in the center of the circle and the Alert Distance value is the radius of the circle. When you approach the place, BlindSquare will notify you as soon as you enter the circle you have defined by setting an Alert Distance.

Once you have edited the place name and Alert Distance to your satisfaction, find the Save button and double-tap it.

Saving a Distant Location

If you want to add a place other than your current location to your My Places list, find the place through Search or Category Search. If you use the search, you can also enter an address to add it to My Places. When you have found the correct place or address, double-tap it so you are on its Place Summary screen, locate the Favorite switch button in the center of the screen and double-tap it. If you need an Alert Distance for this place, double-tap the Edit button in the top right of the screen to open the Place Edit Screen, double-tap the Alert Distance switch button and enter your Alert Distance value. Activate the Save button in the center of the screen to save your changes.

Sharing Places

You can share any place with your friends, be it your current location, one of your saved places, or a place that you have found via Category Search or by entering search terms. Depending on the options you select, the recipient will be sent one or several links. When they open one of them, your shared place will be displayed for example in BlindSquare, Apple Maps, Google Maps, or Navigon.

Sharing Your Current Location

You can share your current location by double-tapping Tools, GPS-Info, and activating the Share My Current Location button.

Double-tap the Share My Current Location button to open the Share Location screen.

Share Any Location

You can share any place, regardless of whether it is one of your saved places or whether you have found it by entering search terms or performing a Category Search. Find the Share This Place button on the Place Summary screen and double-tap it to open the Share Place screen. This screen presents you with several options and an edit field to type in some text that can be sent along with your shared location.

If you send your place through Air Drop, your recipient’s device has to support Air Drop and the feature must be activated on both devices. Also, both of you have to be in close proximity of each other. If you share a location via Air Drop, you cannot add a comment.

The Email option might be your option of choice if you need sighted assistance, because it not only includes links to your location to open in all of the supported apps, but it also displays a map of where you are right in the message and a Google Street View picture of the direction your phone was pointing in when you shared your location. This gives your sighted assistance more information right away than if you used any of the other options.

When you double-tap the Email button, a message containing all links and pictures will open. Type your friend’s address or select the information from your contacts. If you wish, you can also add your own message before sending the Email.

If you use any of the other options, BlindSquare will ask you if you want to send a link to your location opening in BlindSquare, Foursquare, Apple Maps, Google Maps, or if you only want to share address information of your selected place. If you are not sure which of the supported apps your recipient owns, or if they do not own an Apple device, you can always select Google Maps, because the map will also open in any web browser.

When you select Text Message, a text message containing the selected link type or information will open. Add the recipient and send it either through iMessage, if your contact owns an Apple device or as a regular text message if they do not.

If WhatsApp is installed on your device, it will also appear in the list of sharing options. Double-tap it to open a WhatsApp message, add your recipient and send your message.

The Clipboard option will copy the selected information to your clipboard so you can insert it into any edit field and share it using apps not supported by BlindSquare.

When you share a location through a QR-code and have selected the format to share your place in, the QR-code will appear on the screen of your phone. Selecting the Google Maps option will ensure that the link to the place can be opened on any device. The recipient may then use a QR-code reader app of their choice to scan the code on your screen. BlindSquare has its own QR-code reader, which can be found under Tools, QR-code Reader. When it is used, the shared place will always be displayed on BlindSquare’s Place Summary screen.

Importing and Exporting Points of Interest

Because BlindSquare uses Foursquare for POI data, it should rarely be necessary to import public points of interest. You might, however, have recorded your own points in apps such as Ariadne GPS, Loadstone, or MyWay and might like to use these points in BlindSquare, too. Once you have imported them, they will be available in your My Places list along with the points you have recorded in BlindSquare.

The following files can be imported and exported:

  • Ariadne GPS (*.ardn)
  • Loadstone GPS (*.txt)
  • MyWay Classic (*.plist)
  • ViaOpta Nav (*.vptnv)
  • GPS Exchange (*.gpx)
  • Open Street Map (*.osm)
  • Zip-archives containing any of the supported formats (*.zip, import only)

Importing Points of Interest

To import a file, you can either upload it to your Dropbox or send the file to yourself as an Email attachment. If the file is in your Dropbox, launch the Dropbox app on your device, navigate to the file and open it. Find the Share button and double-tap it. Select the option Open In in the menu. Now you will be presented with a list of apps that you can open the file in. Double-tap BlindSquare

If you have emailed the file to yourself, open the Email on your device. Find the button that is labeled with the name of your file, and double-tap and hold it until a menu opens. Now you will be presented with a list of apps that you could open the file in. Double-tap BlindSquare.

If your file is a zip-archive containing several files, BlindSquare will ask you which of them you would like to import. Double-tap the desired file and wait for BlindSquare to load it and to display the import scre

The Import screen now displays the point in your file that is closest to your current location. If simulation mode is active during import, the point closest to your simulated location will be displayed. The import screen also shows if there already are other points on your My Places list that are close to the new point and it shows the intersections in its vicinity. If you would like to import the point, double-tap the Favorite switch button in the center of the screen. To view the second closest point, double-tap the Next button in the bottom right of the screen or swipe left with three fingers. Again, look at the information and double-tap the switch button in the center of the screen if you want to import the point. You can navigate the file using the Previous and Next buttons in the bottom left and right of the screen. In the bottom center you will find a Search button. If you are looking for a specific point in your file, you can enter a search term to find it.

Once you have selected all of the points you would like to import, double-tap the Import button in the top right of the screen to copy all of the selected points to your My Places list.

It is not necessary to import all points of a file at once. If you keep the file in your Dropbox or in your mails, you can always import just the points you need.

Let’s assume that you have traveled to Prague when BlindSquare was not available yet. You have saved many points there using Loadstone GPS. You now plan another trip to Prague and would like to use your old points in BlindSquare. However, your Loadstone file contains hundreds of points located in other countries and cities, too. If you do not want to search your file for the Prague points, you can simply simulate a location in Prague and then open your file. The first point displayed on the import screen will be the closest point to your simulated location. You can now view all of the Prague points easily and decide which of them you would like to import.

Exporting Points of Interest

You can also export individual places to one of the supported file formats. Open the Place Summary screen of the place you would like to export and double-tap the Share This Place button. Activate either the Export to Application option or the Attach Export File to Email option.

If you have activated Export to Application, now choose one of the listed formats. Once you have selected a format, you will be presented with a list of apps that can open the newly created file. Double-tap an app of your choice to view or save your POI in this app.

If you have activated Attach Export file to Email, double-tap one of the listed formats. This will open an Email with an attached file containing your POI. Once you have entered the recipient’s address, you may write a message and send it.

BlindSquare does not offer built-in spoken turn-by-turn navigation. If you are in walking distance to your destination, you can use the Tracking feature to let BlindSquare announce direction and distance periodically.

Select your destination using Search or Category search, open its Place Summary screen, and double-tap the Start Tracking button. Alternatively, you can also use the Quick Access menu in any of these lists. Double-tap and hold the place and select the Start Tracking option in the menu. If your destination is just a few blocks away, the direction and distance information will help you to choose the right turns to find it. Once you have arrived, tracking will be turned off automatically.

If your destination is further away or the route is more complex, you can start a third-party navigation app from the Place Summary screen of any place. Just double-tap the Plan A Route button or select this option in the Quick Access menu to see a menu letting you select one of the third-party navigation apps that are installed on your device and supported by BlindSquare. For a full list of supported apps, please see the section on Tracking, Favoriting and Route Planning.

The Plan a Route button will send the coordinates of the current venue to the third-party navigation app you have selected.

This means you can hear both the turn-by-turn directions of your navigation app and BlindSquare’s information about your environment.

Once third-party navigation has started, BlindSquare will also track your destination, announcing its distance and direction as you advance towards it. BlindSquare can either begin tracking immediately, or only when you have approached your destination and the distance is shorter than 150 meters. If you want BlindSquare to start tracking instantly, activate the Track Destination Automatically on Entire Route option in the BlindSquare settings.

Some of the third-party turn-by-turn navigation apps supported by BlindSquare are available for free. We recommend using either iOS Maps, which is installed on every iOS device, or Google Maps, which can be downloaded from the App Store and is VoiceOver accessible at the time of writing of this documentation.

The Audio Menu

While you walk, BlindSquare reads out a lot of information automatically. However, often it is still necessary to request a specific piece of information, change a setting, or activate a BlindSquare function. Looking for the right button on a touch screen while walking can be difficult or even dangerous in some situations, as it can distract your attention from other clues around you that help you navigate. To alleviate this problem, you can operate BlindSquare using the Remote control features of your headset. The following section explains how these controls work on the Apple headset that comes with every iPhone. You can, however, also use any other headset that supports Apple’s remote control features. To follow the instructions in this section, consult the manual of your headset to locate the buttons for Play, Previous Track, Next Track, Fast Forward and Rewind on your headset. To make instructions in this section easier to read, the text will refer to the playback control functions when describing how to operate BlindSquare via the remote. This will also enable users of non-Apple headsets to find the corresponding buttons on their headsets.

The Apple headset has three physical buttons, the two volume buttons and the center button located between them. All of the playback control actions are performed by pressing the center button.

Table of Remote commands for the BlindSquare Audio Menu

Command Outside Audio Menu In Audio Menu Apple Remote command
Play/Pause Activates the Audio Menu or exits Sleep Mode if it is active. Activates an Audio Menu item. Press center button once.
Next Track Announces your current location and additional information as configured in BlindSquare settings. If BlindSquare is talking, skips to next sentence in speech buffer. If Speech history is active, skips to next announcement. Skips to next menu item. Press center button twice quickly.
Previous Track Activates Speech History. If Speech History is active, skips to previous announcement. Exits the Audio Menu. Press center button three times quickly.
Fast Forward Increases BlindSquare radius. Fast forwards the Audio Menu. Press center button twice quickly and hold when pressing the second time.
Rewind Decreases BlindSquare radius. Rewinds the Audio Menu. Press center button three times quickly and hold when pressing the third time.

As shown in the table, most remote control commands have at least two functions, depending on whether they are used inside or outside of the Audio Menu.

When you press the Play button, BlindSquare will begin to read the Audio Menu to you. Once you hear the item you would like to activate, press Play again. While the Audio Menu is active, you can press Fast Forward to move faster through the menu or Rewind to go back to a past item. You can also skip items by pressing Next Track and exit the menu by pressing Previous Track. Please note that the Audio Menu is only active while BlindSquare reads it to you. When all items have been read, the menu is inactive and you have to press Play again to open it and select one of its items.

The following sections will describe the menu items in more detail.

The Audio Menu also works when your screen is locked and will allow you to keep your device in your pocket or bag and still use most of the BlindSquare features you may need when you walk.

Location

When you activate this menu item, BlindSquare can:

  1. Read your current address, the next intersection, the next Foursquare place if available, and your heading.
  2. Announce the distance you have walked so far.
  3. Check you in to a near place on Foursquare.

In the BlindSquare settings you can configure which of these actions you want performed when you use the Location item in the Audio Menu. The same options are available for the Shake gesture, too, so you can configure BlindSquare to perform different actions depending on whether you use the Location item in the Audio Menu or the Shake gesture.

Sleep Mode

Sleep Mode cannot only be activated by double-tapping the button at the bottom right of the main screen, but also through the Audio Menu. As long as it is active, BlindSquare will not read out information to you or determine your location using your device’s GPS and querying Open Street Map and Foursquare for information. We recommend that you use Sleep Mode when you do not need BlindSquare in order to save battery life.

Sleep Mode is the second item in the Audio Menu. To activate it, press Play to enter the menu and press Play again when you hear BlindSquare say “Sleep Mode.” When you want to use BlindSquare again, just press the Play button to wake it up.

Look Around

When you activate the Look Around feature through the Audio Menu, you will hear a sound and can point your device in all cardinal directions to have BlindSquare announce the most popular places and all street intersections located in that direction and within your current radius. When you use the Audio Menu, you are probably carrying your iPhone in a bag or pocket. To activate Look Around, press Play to start the Audio Menu, wait or skip forward until you hear “Look Around”, and press the Play button. You can now turn in the direction you would like to hear more information about. As long as the Look Around feature is active, you can turn in other directions, too, so you can hear what is located there. Look Around is influenced by your current BlindSquare radius, which you can change while in this mode. Press Fast Forward to increase and Rewind to decrease it. You can exit Look Around mode either through the Audio Menu or by pressing the Previous Track button.

Around Me

You can activate the Around Me feature when you want to hear a list of Foursquare places and your own saved points around you. BlindSquare will announce each place and its distance and direction. Around Me does not report intersections and you do not have to turn in any direction, because BlindSquare will read places in all directions.

Tracking

When you start the Audio Menu and activate Tracking, BlindSquare will begin to read places to you it has previously announced. When you hear the name of a place read out that you would like to track, press Play to activate tracking. This will cause BlindSquare to announce your distance and direction to this place periodically. The closer you are to your destination, the more frequently BlindSquare will announce this information. When you have reached it, tracking will stop automatically. If you wish to stop tracking before you have reached the venue, you can do so by starting the Audio Menu and pressing Play when BlindSquare says “Stop Tracking.” If you are tracking one place only, tracking will stop instantly. If you are tracking more than one place, a submenu will open letting you select the correct place. Press the Play button when you hear the name of the place you no longer want to track. This will end tracking of your selected place.

You can also use the Tracking menu item to let BlindSquare repeat the places it has just reported, if you did not understand one of the place names. When you select Tracking in the menu, BlindSquare will read out the list of recently mentioned places beginning with the last item. If you do not want to track any of the places, press Previous Track to exit the menu.

GPS Info

When you activate the GPS Info item in the Audio Menu, BlindSquare will read out your current GPS accuracy, your heading, and your speed.

Time

The Time feature in the Audio Menu is a quick way to check the time while you are traveling, without having to stop to look at your Braille watch or press a button on your talking watch. To hear the time, just start the Audio Menu and press play once you hear BlindSquare say “Time”.

Add Location

Add Location lets you save your current location on your My Places list. Press the Play button to start the Audio Menu, wait or skip forward until you hear “Add Location”, and press Play. BlindSquare will now add your current location to My Places, name it automatically, and announce the name it has created. If you are near an intersection, BlindSquare will use it as the name, otherwise your current street address will be used. If address information for your location cannot be retrieved, the current time and date will be the name of your saved place. BlindSquare will announce the name, so you can later find the saved location on your My Places list and edit it, should you wish to do so.

Weather

When you select the Weather item in the Audio Menu, BlindSquare will announce weather conditions for your current location.

BlindSquare Voice Commands

Beginning with version 4.0, BlindSquare provides an optional Voice Command interface to improve speed and ease for hands-free use.

Selecting Commands

BlindSquare Voice Command can be invoked by selecting the button at the bottom left of the main screen or by pressing the Play button on wired or Bluetooth remotes. A subtle tone is played indicating that BlindSquare is listening. After the tone, speak your command. If you would like to activate the Voice Command feature through a remote or a headset, please ensure that the remote is set to control either Voice Command or the Audio Menu. You can select one of these options in Other, Settings, Audio Menu Settings. If you have selected the Audio Menu option, you will also need to check the Voice Command option in the Audio Menu Items section of this screen. The Voice Command option will then appear as the first item in the Audio Menu. Please note that the Voice Command feature currently does not support Bluetooth headsets.

Using Voice Command

All commands can be reviewed by speaking the command “HELP”. An alphabetical list will be read. Instructions on individual commands are provided by speaking the command, preceded by help (e.g. “Help Add”). BlindSquare will automatically sense the end of the recognized command or the end of your speech and will advance to complete the instruction. Unrecognized commands or non-existing commands will respond with the message “unknown command”.

Voice Command Credits

One Voice Command Credit is consumed with each use of the feature. Speaking the Voice Command “Credit” will respond with the total Voice Command Credits remaining. When the balance is zero, a prompt will provide the option to refresh credits. Voice Command Credits will not be consumed when using help, checking balance of Voice Command Credits, or if a command is not recognized.

To view a list of all of the available Voice Commands or check your Voice Command credit balance, you can double-tap Other, Voice Command Credits.

Available Voice Commands

Command Description Parameters
Add Adds current location to the My Places list. If desired, a place name and Alert Distance, in meters or feet, can be provided.

Name of the place

Alert distance

Address (Street) Lookup nearest address based on current location.
Around Activates the Around Me feature to present a list of Foursquare and personal saved locations in proximity.
Battery Reports current battery level.
Braille Enters Braille display mode.
Bus Provides information about bus transportation in proximity, if available.
Checkin Checks into a nearby Foursquare venue. Locations in proximity will be listed. Select location of interest to check in. Comments can optionally be included. comment
Compass (Heading) Reports the current compass heading.
Credit Reports remaining Voice Command credits. Use of this command does not consume credits.
Dislike When logged into FourSquare, presents a list of nearby places. Select the location of interest to dislike. Provided comment will be included as a tip. comment
Filter Saying Filter only, will report on current filter in use. Saying filter followed by a filter name will change current filter.

All

Streets only

My places

Streets and My places

Places only

None

Gps Reports current GPS accuracy, heading and speed.
Help Lists commands available.
Like When logged into FourSquare, presents a list of nearby places. Select the location of interest to like. Provided comments will be included as a tip. comment
Lookaround Activates Look Around feature. Turn device for direction specific information.
Navigate Navigate to location provided in Contacts, or a place in the My Places list. Uses a third-party navigation app installed on device. This is equivalent to using the Plan a Route feature on a Place Summary screen. search term for place on the My Places list
Pedometer Controls the Pedometer by speaking one of the following commands. Start, stop, pause, continue, or reset. When in sleep mode, pedometer is automatically paused.

start

stop

pause

continue

reset

Qr Switches to QR-code reader.
Radius Provides a radius to define how many places BlindSquare reports. distance
Search Performs a search of nearby places and addresses. search term
Share Shares current or currently simulated location with others.
Simulate Simulates the location using the search terms provided. Search term for location to simulate
Sleep Enter sleep mode to save battery.
Speed Reports on current speed.
Stop Stops tracking, simulation, and look around features.
Time Announces current time, day and date
Tip Records a tip about a nearby place. Places in proximity are listed. Select place of interest and report tip. comment
Track Reports tracking information for location on Contacts or My Places list. search term for place in My Places list or Contacts
Train Reports information about train transportation in proximity, if available.
Wake Wakes up BlindSquare if Sleep Mode is active.
Weather Reports current temperature, wind speed and forecast for current or currently simulated location.
Where Reports current address and other information about current or currently simulated location.

Sleep Mode and Running in the Background

If you have opened BlindSquare and switch to another app, BlindSquare will keep running in the background, i.e. it will continue to announce POI, intersections, and your saved places near you. This allows you to use BlindSquare in conjunction with third-party navigation apps offering spoken turn-by-turn navigation, and you will be able to hear information spoken by both apps. If BlindSquare is running in the background and your location does not change for more than 15 minutes, BlindSquare will go into Sleep Mode to save battery life and minimize data usage. You can adjust the sleep time period to your needs in Other, Settings, Automatic Sleep Time.

You can also activate Sleep Mode manually by double-tapping the Sleep Mode button in the bottom right of the main screen. If Sleep Mode is active and you return to BlindSquare from another app or unlock the screen so that BlindSquare opens, Sleep Mode will be turned off automatically.

Saving Battery Life and Data

If you need to use the Acapela Voices in BlindSquare, BlindSquare may consume more battery than other GPS apps. To increase your battery life, you can use the filter Streets and My Places, which you will find on the Filter Announcements screen. When this filter is active, BlindSquare will only announce the points you have saved in My Places and information about street intersections. This will help BlindSquare to consume less battery, because it dramatically decreases the amount of text that is spoken and the amount of queries sent to the servers used by BlindSquare.

In some situations, i.e. if you are traveling abroad or have only a limited data plan, it may be necessary that BlindSquare use as little data as possible. If you are in an area that has good Foursquare and Open Street Map coverage, each Foursquare query will take about 32 kb and each Open Street Map query about 4 kb.

The faster you move, i.e. when you are in a vehicle, the more queries BlindSquare will send to the server.

If you perform a category search in BlindSquare, it will take between 10 and 40 kb. Assuming 20 Foursquare queries and 30 Open Street Map queries an hour, you can expect BlindSquare to use about one megabyte per hour. This estimate is true for routes that contain vehicle rides, too.

If you need to save data, you can activate the filter Streets and My Places. This will cause BlindSquare to announce street intersections and places you have either saved in My Places or marked as a favorite only. If there is a Foursquare place that you would always like to be notified of, you can mark it as a Favorite.

To do this, go to the Place Summary screen of the place in BlindSquare and double-tap the Favorite switch button. If you not only would like to be informed when the place is in your radius, but also when you have reached or passed the place, double-tap the Edit button in the top right of the screen to set an alert distance.

BlindSquare Sounds

To enhance the user experience, BlindSquare uses various sounds to inform you about events or confirm that actions are being performed. If you shake your device to retrieve address information while your internet connection is slow, the Shake Gesture sound will let you know that the shake has been registered, although you may not hear the requested information instantly.

To learn what the different sounds mean or to deactivate them, go to Other, Settings, BlindSquare Sounds. This will open a screen listing all of the sounds, which lets you deselect and select each of them separately. When you touch their Description, BlindSquare will also play the respective sound back to you.

BlindSquare and Foursquare

Although BlindSquare is first and foremost an orientation aid, it can also be used to play Foursquare.

Foursquare is a location-based social network. Its users can check in to venues using their smartphones i.e. tell the Foursquare service that they are at a specific venue, which displays their location to their Foursquare friends. If users want to check in to a venue that has not yet been added to Foursquare, they can create an entry for that venue on the Foursquare page. As a result, Foursquare makes available a huge number of points of interest (POI) that may also be accessed through other apps. BlindSquare uses this wealth of data to inform you about your environment. Foursquare also offers information about venues such as address, phone number, or restaurant menus. Foursquare members often leave tips about the places they are at, for example meal recommendations or availability of free Wi-Fi. To access some of this information, you have to connect BlindSquare to your Foursquare account. It is, however, not necessary to have a Foursquare account to benefit from using BlindSquare. If you choose not to use Foursquare, you can use almost all of the features in BlindSquare, with the exception of Foursquare tips and specials.

When you add a place to the My Places list, it is only you who will have access to this information. Alternatively, you can also add places that have not yet been recorded to Foursquare. This will enable every Foursquare user to check in there, or add a tip to the place.

Unfortunately, none of the methods that can be used to add places to Foursquare is fully accessible currently.

Please note that BlindSquare will only announce places once five different Foursquare users have checked in there. This precaution is necessary, because many people create fake venues on Foursquare. When a venue has check-ins by at least five different Foursquare users, BlindSquare will assume that the entry is valid and report the venue to you.

Alternative Input Methods

Using BlindSquare, you will encounter situations where you want to enter text, some examples being when you perform a search, create Places on your My Places list, and post Foursquare comments or tips. As usual, you can write using the onscreen keyboard in iOS, the handwriting feature introduced in iOS 7, or dictate your text if your language is supported by Siri. However, through cooperation with MPaja, developer of the MBraille app, BlindSquare offers an alternative text input method.

MBraille

MBraille is an app that lets you enter Braille using the touch screen of your iOS device. It recognizes the letter you type by the position of your fingers on the screen and converts it into the right print character. If you buy the full version of MBraille through the in-app purchase option, you can copy the text you have typed into every other app. However, MBraille can also talk with other apps through its so-called dot commands. You can perform many BlindSquare actions using these commands. For help on how to use MBraille and the BlindSquare specific dot commands, please see the MBraille help.

However, there is a very simple way to enter text through MBraille into any text field in BlindSquare. Double-tap the text field so it is in edit mode. If necessary, delete the content of the text field so it is empty. Double-tap the return key at the bottom right of the onscreen keyboard. This will open MBraille. Enter your text in MBraille and swipe down. This will return you to BlindSquare and copy the text you have just written into the empty text field.

BlindSquare and Other Third-Party Apps

BlindSquare can be used in conjunction with several third-party apps. Some of them offer spoken turn-by-turn directions see the Tracking, Favoriting and Route Planning section for more information. Others can help you to use public transport, order a taxi, or find additional POI. The following sections will briefly describe how BlindSquare and these apps can be used.

When support of these apps was introduced in BlindSquare, all of them were useable with VoiceOver. Please note, however, that we cannot guarantee that these apps still are or remain accessible.

BlindSquare and Public Transportation

BlindSquare supports several public transportation apps. If one of them is installed on your device, you can look up schedules and services at your current location to a destination. To look up a connection to your destination, search for your destination, open its Place Summary screen, and find the Public Transport button. Double-tapping it will open a menu where you can select one of the supported public transportation apps installed on your device. When you select one of them, BlindSquare will send the coordinates of your current location and the coordinates of your destination to the app of your choice. The app will open and you can continue looking up the desired information from within the selected app.

Please note that information on public transportation through third-party apps from within BlindSquare is only available for selected cities and areas. BlindSquare can only support apps that make available an API so that BlindSquare can send coordinates to these apps. Please contact us if you are aware of other public transportation apps that include an API, so we can make this BlindSquare feature available for more cities and areas. If you want to know whether your area is supported, you may check the websites of the following apps to see if one of them covers your area.

Currently, BlindSquare supports the following public transportation apps:

  • Citymapper
  • Moovit
  • Transit App
  • Daum Maps (Korea)
  • PDX Bus (Portland, Oregon)
  • Reitit (Finland)
  • Transit Times (USA and Canada)

Uber

Uber is a taxi service available in several countries and cities. If you register with Uber, you can order a taxi and also pay for your ride using the Uber app. If it is installed on your device, BlindSquare will display an Uber button on each Place Summary screen. If Uber is available in your area, the button will also show the cheapest available ride to the selected Place. Double-tapping the button will open a menu where you can select one of the available options. Double-tap one of them to select it. This will send information about your current location and your destination to the Uber app and open it. Now you can continue in Uber and order your taxi.

Where To?

Where To is an app that lets you search for POI around you. It uses other POI sources than BlindSquare and can complement the information provided by BlindSquare. When you have opened Where To and found a point that interests you, locate the Open Directions button to send it to BlindSquare. BlindSquare will open showing the Place Summary screen of the place you were viewing in Where To, and you can now favorite the place to save it on your My Places list.

The BlindSquare Interface

Exploring the screen, you will notice that BlindSquare has its own built-in help system using VoiceOver hints. This will only work for you if the VoiceOver hints on your device have not been turned off (see your device’s Settings, General, Accessibility, VoiceOver, Speak Hints). As you touch each item on the screen, VoiceOver will not only tell you its name, but you will also hear what it does and how to activate it. When you have used BlindSquare for some time, you may no longer need this information. It is possible to turn this feature off in the BlindSquare settings.

You can always turn off the BlindSquare speech by double-tapping with two fingers anywhere on the screen. To turn it on again, just repeat this gesture. This will prevent the BlindSquare voice speaking on top of VoiceOver, when you want to explore the screen to familiarize yourself with BlindSquare.

The Main Screen

The main screen of BlindSquare is divided into three sections. At the top you will find seven buttons. From left to right they are Search, Add Place, Tools, Foursquare, Other, Filter Announcements, and Mute Speech. Below these buttons you will find the radius slider. The largest part of the screen, however, is taken up by a list of place categories, where different categories can be searched.

Below the list of categories you will find the GPS Accuracy/Speed/Compass button and the Sleep Mode button at the bottom of the screen.

When you turn on Sleep Mode, BlindSquare will be silent and stop querying Foursquare and Open Street Map for information. Sleep Mode helps you to save battery when you do not need BlindSquare. Please see the Sleep Mode section to learn more about this function.

The GPS Accuracy button is located in the bottom center of the screen. If the default setting is active, it will display your current GPS accuracy. When you double-tap it, it will show your current speed if you are moving. If you double-tap again, it will display your compass direction. Another double-tap will return to GPS accuracy. When you close BlindSquare and open it again, it will remember the setting of this button and display your accuracy, your speed, or your compass direction, depending on the setting that was last active when you closed the app.

A Help button is located in the bottom left corner of the screen. You will find the Help button also on some other screens of BlindSquare. It lets you open the help section for the currently active screen. However, you can also navigate to any other section in the help using the headings or the Jump To button at the top of the document.

The Radius

Below the top row of buttons and above the category list you will find the radius slider. The radius setting affects how much information BlindSquare will announce as you walk. Imagine a circle around you and yourself in the center of this circle. As you walk, the circle around you will move along with you. Places that appear in the circle as you move will be announced by BlindSquare. The more you increase the radius of the circle, the more information you will hear on your way. However, if there is a large amount of places inside the radius, BlindSquare will never read them all, but decide which ones will be announced based on the places’ popularity and additional factors.

If you are in a downtown area, it is very likely that there will be a lot of public points of interest around you. If you want to be informed about as many of them as possible, you should select a very small radius. When you increase the radius in a well covered area, there will be more places in the imaginary circle around you, and BlindSquare will not be able to inform you about as many of them.

If you are in an area that has few public poi on Foursquare, you may want to increase the radius. This will help to ensure you are not missing places you might want to be informed about.

Your choice of radius also affects the Category search and the Look Around feature.

The largest part of the main screen of BlindSquare is taken up by a list of categories points of interest (POI) can fall into. Most of these categories have been defined by Foursquare, the social network BlindSquare uses for POI data. The main categories are My Places, Shared Places, Arts & Entertainment, College & University, Food, Nightlife Spot, Outdoors & Recreation, Professional & Other Places, Residence, Shop & Service, and Travel & Transport.

When you double-tap one of the Category buttons, BlindSquare will present you with a screen that lists all of the places that fall into this category and that are within the radius that you have selected using the radius slider on top of the category list.

The screen displays three lists:

  1. Places sorted according to their popularity on Foursquare.
  2. Places sorted according to their distance from you
  3. A list of subcategories that belong to the current main category.

Each of these three lists has a heading. If you set your VoiceOver rotor to headings, you can quickly jump to the list that is of interest to you by swiping up or down.

You can now double-tap the entry you would like to view. If you double-tap one of the subcategories, you will be taken to another screen that again lists all of the places that fall in this subcategory. For example you could double-tap the Travel & Transport main category. On the following screen, you would see a list of stations, hotels, bus stops etc. that are in your vicinity. The list of subcategories would contain items such as Airport, Bus Station, Hotel, Train Station and so on. If you are interested in places from one subcategory only, just open the respective subcategory to view a list of those places.

On the Category Search screen as well as on each subcategory screen you will find the Action button in the top right corner of the screen. When you double-tap it you will see a list of filters you can apply to your search results. To learn more, please see the Filtering Lists of Places section.

The My Places List

My Places, which is the top item in the category list, contains places you have saved in BlindSquare. You can save your current location by telling BlindSquare to add it to your list of places. This will cause BlindSquare to propose a name and record the place’s GPS Coordinates. Alternatively, you can use BlindSquare to search for a place and mark it as a favorite. This will add it to your My Places list, too. For more information see Marking Places

In the top right corner of the screen, you will see the Action button. When you double-tap it you will see a list of filters you can apply to the list of places. To learn more, please see the Filtering Lists of Places section.

Shared Places

The second category on the top of the list is called Shared Places. If you are a Foursquare user, you can create places that are saved on the Foursquare network itself and you can mark them private. This means that you can check in to these places, but they won’t be clearly visible for most people on the map on Foursquare. If you connect BlindSquare to your Foursquare account, BlindSquare can access the information about these places, and more importantly, it can also access the list of private places created by your Foursquare friends. If one of your friends recorded their house and put it into the Home category on Foursquare to mark it as private, you could see it on this list and use BlindSquare to travel there.

The Place Summary Screen

If you double-tap a place listed in any of the categories or subcategories, the Place Summary screen of this place will be displayed. It shows information about the place and lets you access many of the features BlindSquare offers related to places. Depending on the properties of your selected venue, the information and buttons on this screen may vary. Therefore, you will not see all of the buttons discussed in this section on all of the Place Summary screens for all of the places you view.

When you open the Place Summary screen by double-tapping a place from any of the category lists, a search results list, or the My Places list, the VoiceOver focus is set on the Back button in the top left of the screen. When you swipe right, VoiceOver will speak the name of your venue, its direction and distance from you. Flicking right again, you will land on the Edit button, which maybe dimmed. This button is available only if you have marked the place you are looking at as a favorite. To learn more about favorites, please see the section about the Place Edit Screen and about Marking Places. Flick right again to hear the category name of the venue.

The next button on the screen lets you check in to a place if you have got a Foursquare account and connected BlindSquare to it. To learn more about checking in, please see the Foursquare chapter.

Tracking, Favoriting, and Route Planning

Below the Check In button near the left edge of the screen you will find the Start Tracking button. Double-tapping this button launches tracking for the place currently displayed. This will cause BlindSquare to announce your distance and direction to this place from time to time. The closer you are to the place, the more frequently BlindSquare will announce this information. When you have reached the place, tracking will stop automatically. If you wish to stop tracking before you have reached the venue, you can do so by going to Tools, Stop Tracking of All Places, or by using the Stop Tracking button on the Place Summary screen of the venue you no longer want to track. You can also stop tracking by using the respective item in the Audio Menu.

When you activate the Favorite switch button, the currently displayed venue will be added to your My Places list. Deactivating the button will delete it from the list. When this switch button is active, the Edit button at the top right of the Place Summary screen will be available giving you access to the Place Edit Screen.

If you activate the Favorite switch button, and if the place you are marking is also a Foursquare venue, the Automatic Foursquare Check-Ins switch button will appear below the Favorite switch button. When it is activated, BlindSquare will check in to this venue automatically each time you arrive there.

For more information about favoriting a place, please see the Place Edit Screen section.

The Plan a Route button will send the coordinates of the current venue to a third-party navigation app installed on your device.

This means you can hear both the turn-by-turn directions of your navigation app and BlindSquare’s information about your environment.

Once your third-party navigation has started, BlindSquare will also track your destination, announcing its distance and direction as you advance towards it. BlindSquare can either begin tracking immediately, or only when you have approached your destination and the distance is shorter than 150 meters. If you want BlindSquare to start tracking instantly, activate the Track Destination Automatically on Entire Route option in the BlindSquare settings.

BlindSquare supports the following third-party navigation apps:

  • Navigon
  • TomTom
  • Sygic
  • GPS 2 Navigation
  • Waze
  • MotionX-GPS
  • MotionX-GPS Drive
  • MotionX-GPS HD
  • Google Maps
  • Apple Maps

If you require more information about the usage of any of these products, please refer to its website or its documentation.

Depending on the apps installed on your device, you may see two more buttons:

The Public Transport button will appear if one of the public transportation apps supported by BlindSquare is installed on your device. When you double-tap it, BlindSquare will send the coordinates of your current location and of the place you are currently viewing to a supported public transit app of your choice. You can then look up public transportation connections to your selected destination within the respective app. Please see BlindSquare and Public Transportation Apps for more information.

The uber button will be available if the Uber app is installed on your phone. Once you have set up an Uber account, this app lets you order a cab right from your device. When you double-tap the Uber button in BlindSquare on the Place Summary screen, you will see the cabs you can pick and the respective charges. Once you select an option, BlindSquare will send the coordinates of your current location and of the place you are currently viewing to the Uber app. Uber will open and you can continue your order from within the app.

Place Information

The amount of information available for a place on Foursquare may vary. If there is address information for a place you are viewing, it will be displayed on the Place Summary screen. If it is not available, there will be a button called Look Up Nearest Address. If you double-tap this button, BlindSquare will attempt to look up the address of the venue. The result may not be the correct street address, but the address will be close enough to the place to give other people for example cab drivers a general sense of where you need to go. This address information will not be saved to BlindSquare, and you will have to request it if you need it again for this place.

Further information that may be available for a place could be restaurant menus, a telephone number, or an internet address. You can make a call by double-tapping the phone number. If you double-tap the internet address, you will be able to view the webpage from within BlindSquare.

The Tips button is only visible if you have a Foursquare account that BlindSquare has been connected too. Users can leave short tips about places on Foursquare. Sometimes these tips can be helpful. They may contain information about recommendable meals at restaurants or Wi-Fi access at a venue. Double-tapping the Tips button will let you view these tips as well as add your own tip.

The Give Feedback button lets you share accessibility information about a venue. Leave information such as:

  • Are guide dogs welcome?
  • Is the venue wheelchair accessible?
  • Are there Braille menus?
  • Is the theater equipped with induction loops for hearing impaired people?

The Google button gives you another means to retrieve more information about a venue. Double-tap it to launch a Google search for the place.

If the place you are looking at belongs to the food category, you might see a Menu button on the Place Summary screen. Not all restaurants, cafés etc. have made their menus available on Foursquare. However, if it is available, you will be able to access it here.

If you double-tap the Share This Place button, you can send information about the place you are currently viewing through text message, Email, WhatsApp or the clipboard. Please read the Sharing Places section to learn more about the sharing options.

You can also check the weather of any place using the Weather button on the Place Summary screen. When you double-tap it, BlindSquare will read out the available information to you.

Please note that weather information is more extensive when you use BlindSquare in English, as the service BlindSquare queries does provide forecast information in English only.

Find Similar Places

The Find Similar Places button lets you look up places that are similar to the one currently displayed. For example, if you are currently viewing Starbucks, double-tapping Find Similar Places will bring up a list of coffee shops, and you might also see Tim Hortons listed if there is one in the area.

Show on Map

BlindSquare can display your current location, your saved places, Foursquare venues, and addresses on a map. To display your current location on the map, double-tap Tools, GPS Info, followed by the Show on Map button in the center of the screen. If you are walking or riding in a vehicle, the map will move as your current location changes. To display any other place, open its Summary screen and double-tap the Show on Map button to open a map showing your selected place in the center and other nearby points around it.

To read the map, you can use the same VoiceOver gestures that work in Apple Maps, too. When you touch a street, you will hear its name. If you leave your finger on the screen, you will hear a low knocking sound and VoiceOver will tell you that you can move your finger to follow the street. As you trace the street with your finger, the knocking sound will continue. If your finger is about to wonder off the street, the sound will become higher. Stay in the center of the street using the pitch as an indicator. When you approach an intersection, VoiceOver will say the name of the new street, and if you let your finger rest on the screen, you can follow it. If you want to follow the first street, do not stop but keep dragging your finger along it over the screen.

If you would like the map to cover a larger or smaller area, you can zoom in or out of it. Set the rotor to Zoom and flick up or down to adjust the zoom. VoiceOver will announce the new dimensions of the map. Alternatively, double-tap the Zoom button in the top right of the screen and select the desired map size from the menu.

The map in BlindSquare will only show points that are available from within BlindSquare, too. This means that the points you may see if you look at the same location from within Apple Maps may be different. You can select the kind of points that you would like BlindSquare to display on the map. Here are a few examples:

  • To display the intersections around you, go to Tools, Intersections, open the Place Summary screen for one of the intersections, and double-tap the Show on Map button.
  • To Show a map of the Foursquare venues around you, double-tap the Foursquare button, open the Place Summary screen of one of the venues in the list, and double-tap the Show on Map button.
  • To view points on your My Places list, open it, select a place, and double-tap the Show on Map button on its Place Summary screen.
  • To display points from a category of your choice on the map, double-tap the category on the main screen, select a venue from the list of places, and double-tap the Show on Map button on its Place Summary screen. If your selected category is for instance Food, the map will show restaurants, cafés etc. around you.

When BlindSquare shows you a list of places, you can also view one of them on the map without having to open its Place Summary screen. Just double-tap and hold a list item until the menu opens and double-tap Show on Map.

To hear the name of the place that is currently shown in the center of the map, touch the bottom center of the screen. To the left and right of the place name at the bottom of the screen are Previous and Next buttons. Assume you have opened your My Places list and selected the second place from the list that is sorted according to distance. Assume you have opened the Place Summary screen of this place and are now displaying it on the map. The place will be shown in the center of the map, and its name will appear in the bottom center just above the Home button of your phone. If you double-tap the Previous button to the left of it, BlindSquare will now display the first list item, i.e. closest place on the map. Double-tapping the Next button in the bottom right corner of the screen will show the place whose Summary screen you initially opened, and double-tapping the Next button once more will display the third place in the My Places list sorted according to distance.

Use them to see the previous or next place on a list of places on the map, without having to go back to the list itself.

If you set the VoiceOver focus on the place name in the bottom center of the screen, you will hear a tone when you point your device in the direction of this place. The faster this tone is played, the more accurately you are aiming your phone in the correct direction.

Near the Home button, slightly above the name of the place that is currently in the center of your map, BlindSquare displays the cardinal direction your phone is currently pointing in. This label will change as you turn your phone. If the VoiceOver focus is on this label while you are pointing your phone in different directions, you will hear a short tone as soon as your phone points north.

Please note that compass readings may not always be accurate. This may occur when there are magnetic fields in your surroundings.

Simulation Mode

When you activate the Simulation button on a Place Summary screen, the place you are viewing will be simulated by BlindSquare. This means that BlindSquare will behave as if you really were at this place. When you do a category search, the distance to the places you find will be the distance between your simulated place and the places displayed in your search results, not the distance between your real location and your search results. You can also use the Look Around feature to learn more about the environment of your simulated place. The simulation feature can be very useful when you plan a trip. You can check out interesting POI near your hotel before you travel. If you want to go to a specific destination, you can enter its address in the Search and simulate its location. Then you can perform a category search for Travel & Transport to find out what public transport is available near your destination. Once you know the name of the stops nearby, you can use another app to find out which bus service you can use to go there.

If you simulate a location and find a place in the vicinity of your simulated location that you would like to go to, you can activate BlindSquare’s Plan A Route feature for the destination near your simulated location. If you select either Apple Maps or Google Maps from the Plan A Route menu, your simulated location will be entered as your starting point and the venue in its vicinity will be recognized as the destination. This way you can easily look at a route in Apple Maps or Google Maps before you travel, without having to enter the address data into these GPS apps. Please note that some of the other third-party navigation apps supported by BlindSquare will not assume your simulated location but your actual location as the start of the route.

Set Correct Location

If the place you are currently viewing is a Foursquare venue, you will see the Set Correct Location button. Locations of venues may not always be very accurate on Foursquare. Using this button, you can set your current coordinates as the location of the Foursquare venue you are currently displaying. We recommend that you find the entrance to the venue that you would like to use most frequently and then set this as the correct location for this venue. This change is only saved in BlindSquare and not on Foursquare.

At the bottom of the Place Summary screen, you will see a Previous button in the left corner and a Next button in the right corner. These buttons let you navigate the list of places without you having to go back to the list. Double-tap the Previous button to view the previous venue in the list or double-tap the Next button to view the next venue.

Between the Next and Previous button you will see again the information about the direction and distance of the current place. The information will update as you turn or move.

Adding Places to the My Places List

The first category on the top of the list of categories on the main screen is the My Places list. When you double-tap it, you will see a list of all places you have added to the My Places list. This list is very similar to other lists of places in BlindSquare with the exception that you can delete list items by touching them, swiping down and double-tapping.

There are two different methods of adding a place to the My Places list.

  1. Double-tap the Add Place button in the top row of buttons on the main screen. This will open the Edit Place screen where you can enter a name and set different parameters for your place.
  2. When you are on a Place Summary screen, double-tap the Favorite switch button. This will also put the current place onto your My Places list and undim the Edit Place button in the top right corner of the Place Summary screen. Double-Tapping this button will bring up the Place Edit screen.

Place Edit Screen

The first text field on the Edit Place screen should contain a name that will help you to recognize the place. If you have added the place through the Place Summary screen, it will contain the Foursquare name of the place. If you have added the place using the Add button on the My Places list, then BlindSquare will suggest a name and fill in the text field for you. The suggested name will be a nearby street intersection or your current street address. You can edit the name if you wish.

Swipe right to find the Alert Distance switch button. When you activate it, the VoiceOver focus will be placed in a text field where you can enter a value. This will be your alert distance in your default distance unit. If you enter 20, your alert distance will be 20 meters if your default distance unit is meters, or 20 feet if your default distance unit is feet.

The alert distance will cause BlindSquare to inform you when your distance to the place is equal or lower than the value you have assigned as an alert distance to this place. You can imagine it as a circle around the place. The place is in the center of the circle and the alert distance value is the radius of the circle. When you approach the place, BlindSquare will notify you as soon as you enter the circle you have defined by setting an alert distance.

If you swipe right again, you will land on the Save button. Double-tap it to save the changes you have made. Swiping right again will bring you to the Start Tracking button that has the same function as the Start Tracking button on the Place Summary screen. The next button will let you delete the place from the My Places list.

In the bottom third of the screen you will find different information about the position of the place you are editing and your own current position. If you are at the place and your current GPS accuracy is, better than the GPS accuracy you had when you first saved the place, you might want to save the place again to benefit from better accuracy. To do this, double-tap the Reset Location button.

The Edit Coordinates button at the bottom of the screen will open a dialog showing the GPS Coordinates of your place. Should you want to make any changes, you can edit the coordinates and save them here.

When you double-tap the search button in the top left corner of the main screen, the search dialog will open. There you can enter a place name or an address you would like to search. Double-tap Search to start searching. BlindSquare will now search Foursquare and Apple Maps for the terms you have entered. Provided you have given BlindSquare access to your contacts, the name, company name, and address fields in your contacts will be searched, too. If you want to search for a contact, it is enough to just enter a few characters of their name followed by a space and the first few characters of their company name or street address; just enter some of the information you remember. If the address or terms you have entered have been found, you will see a list of search results. Double-tap any of the items in the list to open the Place Summary screen. There you can see more information about the place, add the place to My Places, Track the place, and start a third-party navigation app to hear turn-by-turn directions to this place. To learn more about these features, please see the section about the Place Summary screen. In the top right of the Search screen you will find the Action button. When you double-tap it after having performed a search, you will see a list of filters you can apply to your search results. To learn more, please see the Filtering Lists of Places section.

Below the list of search results you will see a list of categories. These are the categories the places in your search results list belong to. If you for instance search for McDonald’s, you will see the Fast Food and Burger Joint categories at the bottom of the search results list. If you now double-tap one of them, you will see a list of other places that also fall into the same category.

When you open the Search screen after you have performed at least one search, it will also display your search history, which contains the last 30 search terms you have entered. Should you want to repeat one of your previous searches, you can double-tap the desired search history entry. This will put the respective search terms into the edit field so you can edit them if you require any changes. Double-tap Search to execute your search. When you double-tap the Action button in the top right of the screen immediately after having opened the Search screen, you will see a button that lets you delete your entire search history.

To return to the main screen, please use the scrub gesture or the Back button at the top left of the screen.

Tools Menu

The Tools menu contains several items. Double-tap the Tools button to see them. The number of items you will see depends on the BlindSquare features you are currently using. The buttons always displayed are Look Around, Your Location, Around Me, Beacon Radar, Recent Places, Nearby Intersections, GPS Info, Weather, Contacts, Braille Display, and QR-Code Reader. Additional items that are available only when certain BlindSquare features are used are End Simulation, Return to third-party navigation app, Tracked Places, Stop Tracking All, and Stop Beacon Radar.

Look Around

When you activate the Look Around function in the Tools menu, you will hear a sound and can point your device in all cardinal directions to have BlindSquare announce the most popular places and all street intersections located in that direction and within your current radius. To point your device in a direction, hold it with its top edge facing the direction you are interested in. If, for example, you want to point north, the top edge must face north. This means that the edge near the Home button will face south. As long as the Look Around feature is active, you can point in other directions, too, so you can hear what is located there. When you point in a new direction, BlindSquare will first play a sound and subsequently name the direction, for example north or southwest. It will then access the information about places in the vicinity, so there will be a pause before you hear the names of the places and their distance. BlindSquare announces information in the following order: places on your My Places list including distance, street intersections including distance, and lastly most popular categories and most popular places.

Each of the cardinal directions north, Northwest, west, southwest, south, southeast, east, and northeast has a designated sound. When you point your device in a new direction, you will first hear the sound so you know that BlindSquare is now retrieving information about POI and intersections in that new direction.

Look Around mode will turn off automatically after a certain period of time or if you keep pointing your device in the same direction. You can also exit Look Around by shaking your device.

Once you have been walking after BlindSquare was opened, you can also launch Look Around via the Audio Menu. BlindSquare will then determine cardinal directions using your direction of movement. Your device can remain in your pocket, and you can simply turn so you face the direction you are interested in. Use the Audio Menu to exit Look Around mode again.

Your Location

When you double-tap the Your Location button in the Tools menu, BlindSquare will inform you about the nearest street intersection and its direction, your current address, and the direction you are walking or pointing your device in.

You can hear this information also by shaking your device, if the Shake to Search Address option in the BlindSquare settings is active. By default this option is turned on.

Around Me

You can activate the Around Me feature when you want to hear a list of Foursquare places and your own saved points around you. BlindSquare will announce each place and its distance and direction. Around Me does not report intersections and you do not have to turn in any direction, because BlindSquare will read places in all directions.

Beacon Radar

The Beacon Radar allows you to locate iBeacons of a BlindSquare supported indoor navigation system using the “getting warmer” method. When you activate it while no iBeacon is in reach, a sequence of three beeps will be played in decreasing volume. As soon as an iBeacon appears in your range, BlindSquare will play faster beeps in a lower pitch. The closer the iBeacon is to you, the faster the beeps will be played. For example, if a reception desk has been marked with an iBeacon, you can locate the desk by moving in the direction where the beeps are played faster.

To switch off Beacon Radar, go to Tools, Stop Beacon Radar.

Recent Places

The Recent Places feature in the Tools menu lists all of the places that BlindSquare has recently announced. If you were not able to understand a place name or would like to see more information about one of the venues, use the Recent Places function to list them. Double-tap a place to see its Place Summary screen so you can see more information, plan a route, or track it.

Nearby Intersections

This function lists intersections around you. It is similar to lists of places that can be found elsewhere in BlindSquare, such as the My Places list or the list of search results you see when you perform a category search. You can see the distance and direction of each intersection. Double-tapping one of them will open a Place Summary screen for the intersection. There you can perform most of the actions you can perform on any other point of interest, such as tracking, planning a route, marking it as a favorite etc.

GPS Info

The GPS Info screen displays information such as your current GPS accuracy, your current speed, GPS heading, compass heading, latitude, longitude, and altitude. Whereas your compass heading depends on the direction you point your device in, the GPS heading is determined from your direction of movement. If you move north fast enough for the iPhone to detect it, but point your phone south while you are walking, then your compass heading will be south while your GPS heading will be north. The information on the screen is constantly being updated, and VoiceOver will speak the information in the field it is focusing. If you want to see when your traveling speed changes, put the VoiceOver focus on the speed field. As soon as there is a change, VoiceOver will announce the new value. When you are tracking places, distances and directions of these tracked places will be displayed on this screen, too. If you are tracking two or more places simultaneously, double-tap the entry to switch the display between the different places you are tracking so you can see the distance and direction of all of them.

Weather

Knowing current weather conditions increases your safety as you travel. Many blind people find traveling more difficult when there is snow; wind and rain can also make it harder to pick up auditory clues of the environment. BlindSquare lets you check weather conditions both at your current location and at your destination.

If you want to check weather conditions at your current location, go to the Tools menu and select Weather. You may have to wait a few seconds for BlindSquare to retrieve the information. As soon as it is available, BlindSquare will read it to you.

If you want to check the weather at a distant location, find the location using one of your saved points on the My Places list, through Category Search or by performing a search entering search terms. Once you have found the place, open the Place Summary screen and find the Weather button. When you double-tap it, BlindSquare will read the weather at your destination to you.

Please note that weather information is more extensive when you use BlindSquare in English, as the service BlindSquare queries does provide forecast information in English only.

Contacts

When you launch BlindSquare for the first time, it will ask your permission to access the address book on your device. If you agree, you will be able to search for contacts and to open their address in BlindSquare. We will never share your contacts with any third party, but only use street address information when you perform a search, simulate a contact’s location, or view it on a map. If you use the Plan a Route feature i.e. select a third-party navigation app to navigate to a contact’s location, BlindSquare will send the GPS coordinates of its address to your selected navigation app.

If you chose not to grant BlindSquare access to your contacts when you launched it the first time, you can do this later on by going to your device Settings, Privacy, Contacts, and double-tapping the BlindSquare switch button. Once BlindSquare can access your contacts, it will look up the GPS coordinates of each address saved there. This may take up to 30 minutes. When this has been completed, the Contacts button in the Tools menu will be available.

The Contacts button opens a list of all your contacts on your device that have an address entry. The top list sorts them according to their distance to you; the bottom list sorts them alphabetically. If a contact has more than one address, e.g. a home and a work address, there will be a list item for each of their addresses. Double-tapping a contact will open the Place Summary screen for this contact’s address. This allows you to perform any action on the contact’s address that you can perform on any other point of interest such as tracking, planning a route to your contact, adding it to your My Places list etc. Alternatively, you can also find a contact’s address by using the search feature on the main screen and entering part of their name or address in the search field.

Braille Display

If you are deafblind or prefer to use BlindSquare using your Braille display only, you may activate the Braille Display screen by opening the Tools menu and double-tapping Braille Display to open a screen containing all of the spoken text. When this screen is active, VoiceOver and the VoiceOver speech synthesizer will continue to function as usual, while BlindSquare will not speak, but will send all announcements to this screen so you can read it using VoiceOver and your Braille display. You can shake your device to cause BlindSquare to display your current location. If you press the Home button to send BlindSquare to the background while the Braille Display screen is active, all of the spoken text will be displayed as notifications, which you can read on your Braille display, too.

When BlindSquare mentions a place, you can double-tap the notification to open its Place Summary screen. If you perform any action on this screen e.g. checking in, BlindSquare will return to the Braille Display screen, not to the BlindSquare main screen.

QR-Code Reader

The QR-Code reader gives you an accessible means to read QR-Codes. It has been included in BlindSquare, because QR-codes may be part of BlindSquare’s indoor navigation system. It is also possible to import a place into BlindSquare by scanning a QR-code on the screen of another device. For more information, please see the section on sharing a location. However, you may also use the reader to read any other QR-code. Please note that BlindSquare needs internet access to look up information linked to a QR-Code.

Tracked Places

When the Track Place function has been activated for a specific place, BlindSquare will announce the direction of and distance to this place in certain intervals, which grow shorter the closer you come to the place. The Tracked Places function will list all of the places you are currently tracking. If you want to stop tracking one of them, find it on the list and double-tap and hold it until a menu opens. Select the Stop Tracking option. Alternatively, you can double-tap the place to open its Place Summary screen and select Stop Tracking.

To learn more about tracking, please see tracking

And GPS Info.

Stop Tracking

This feature lets you stop tracking of all currently tracked places at once, so you no longer hear their distance and direction. If you are tracking several places simultaneously and only want to stop tracking one of them, go to the Tools menu and open the list of tracked places. Find the place you no longer want to track and double-tap and hold it until a menu opens. Select the Stop Tracking option. Alternatively, you can double-tap the place to open its Place Summary screen and select Stop Tracking.

Foursquare

The Foursquare button in the top row of buttons on the main screen lets you set up BlindSquare so you can not only use it as a mobility aid, but also as a Foursquare client. When you double-tap the Foursquare button for the first time, you will see a screen saying Connect Foursquare. Double-tap this button if you have a Foursquare account and would like to use it with BlindSquare. When you double-tap this button, Safari will open and present you with a page asking you if you would like to connect BlindSquare to your Foursquare account. Note that you may have to sign in to your Foursquare account first. Double-tap Sign In or Register respectively if you want to create a new Foursquare account. When you are signed in, double-tap Allow to let BlindSquare access your Foursquare account. If this has been successful, you will be returned to the main screen of BlindSquare.

Once BlindSquare is connected to Foursquare, you can double-tap the Foursquare button at the top of the screen to view a list of all the places in your vicinity that you could check in to with Foursquare.

Below the list of places you currently can check in to, you will find a list of suggested places that might be of interest to you. This list is based on your previous Foursquare check-ins and the place recommendations of your Foursquare friends. To quickly jump to this list, set your rotor to headings and flick up or down.

If after launching BlindSquare you have checked in to Foursquare venues, you will see the check-ins you have made. If you want to look at this section, set your rotor to headings and flick down to the Foursquare History heading. You can double-tap an item in the list if you would like to see more detailed information about a specific check-in such as points earned etc.

In the bottom center of the Foursquare screen you will see a Refresh button. You can use this button to update the list of Foursquare places for example when you have moved since you opened this screen.

In the bottom right of the screen you will find the Log Off button. Use it to log out off Foursquare if you no longer want to use BlindSquare to play Foursquare. Note that you can still use all of the navigational features of BlindSquare, even if you do not have a Foursquare account or are not logged into it.

If you would like to check in to a Foursquare venue, navigate to the list of places you can check in to at the top of the screen and find the venue you want and double-tap it. This will open the Check In screen. The onscreen keyboard will be visible and the VoiceOver focus will be placed in an edit box. If you want to add a message to your check-in, telling your friends what you are doing, you can type it here. Flick right once to see the Check In button. If you flick right again, you will see the button to determine the privacy setting for your check-in. The label of the button depends on the active setting and may read Public, Private, Twitter + FB, or Smart. Use this button to set where you want your check-in to be published. Set to Public, BlindSquare will post your check-in on Foursquare visible to all of your Foursquare friends. If you use the Private setting, your check-in will be registered at Foursquare, but your friends will not be able to see it. The Twitter + FB setting will cause your check-in to be posted to both your Twitter and Facebook account, provided they have been connected to your Foursquare account. The Smart setting will post your check-in to Twitter and Facebook if you enter a comment with your check-in. If you leave the comment field blank, your check-in will be posted to Foursquare only. The default setting is Public. Double-tap this button to change this setting and choose the desired option from the menu. If you flick on right, you will subsequently land on the Start Tracking, Favorite, and Plan a Route buttons. To learn more about any of these features, please see the section Tracking, Favoriting, and Route Planning.

The last button on this screen is called Look Up Nearest Address. If address information for this place is not available on Foursquare, you can have BlindSquare look up the approximate address of this place for you. The result may not be entirely accurate, but it will at least be in the vicinity of the correct address.

Below the list of places you currently can check in to, you will find a list of suggested places that might be of interest to you. This list is based on your previous Foursquare check-ins and the place recommendations of your Foursquare friends. To quickly jump to this list, set your rotor to headings and flick up or down.

The Filter Announcements Screen

The sixth button in the row of buttons at the top of the BlindSquare screen opens the Filters screen. There you can determine what kind of information you want BlindSquare to announce as you walk. This screen is divided into two sections. The Picker in the top section lets you select one of the predefined filters in BlindSquare e.g. Streets Only, Places Only, Streets and My Places etc. If you select one of them, BlindSquare will only notify you of the places contained in the filter. Choose the All option if you want to deselect all filters.

Below the picker you will find the Announce Address Automatically switch button. It is active by default, so BlindSquare automatically announces your address from time to time as you walk.

If you want to customize your BlindSquare announcements further, you can use the category options in the bottom section of the screen. Deselect all of the categories you do not want to be informed about as you walk. By default all categories are active. You can quickly select or deselect all categories using the buttons in the bottom third of the screen. The Select All button is located near the left and the Deselect All button near the right edge of the screen. The heading above the categories informs you about how many categories are currently selected.

Filtering BlindSquare announcements can be useful in various situations. If you needed to save data, you could use the Streets Only filter or the My Places filter or deselect all Foursquare categories.

If you were looking for a place to eat as you walk through the city, you could deselect all Foursquare categories except for the Food category. BlindSquare would then only announce food places, and it would announce more of them than it could speak if you still had all other categories activated.

You will find two more buttons in the bottom right corner of the screen. They control if you will receive messages from stationary and mobile iBeacons. Stationary iBeacons are part of an indoor navigation system, BlindSquare Beacon Positioning System (BPS). They can help you to navigate inside of buildings. Mobile beacons can be placed in cars or busses to alert BlindSquare users of the presence of a vehicle. If you want BlindSquare to announce iBeacons, go to Other, Settings, Bluetooth Settings and check if Beacon Detection is enabled.

Please note that there are only a few places where a BlindSquare Beacon Positioning System (BPS) has been installed. The iBeacon settings and filters are relevant only if you are within an area where a BlindSquare supported indoor navigation system has been installed.

Other

The fifth button in the row of buttons on the BlindSquare main screen is Other. Double-tap it to open a submenu containing the following items: Settings, Help, Accessory Devices, About BlindSquare, Give Feedback, Credits, Rate Application.

Settings

If you use iCloud, BlindSquare will save your settings to iCloud and they will be synchronized between your devices. If you are using BlindSquare on several devices, it will suffice to select your preferred settings on one device, because they will be shared between all of your devices connected to the same iCloud account.

The Settings screen contains the following options:

BlindSquare Help

BlindSquare uses VoiceOver hints to provide context sensitive help for all buttons. For this feature to work, the VoiceOver Hints feature has to be enabled in your device’s VoiceOver settings. If you want to check whether it is active, go to your device settings, General, Accessibility, VoiceOver. Using the VoiceOver hints, BlindSquare can speak a short description of each button’s functionality when you touch it. When you have used BlindSquare for some time, you may no longer need this help and can disable it using the BlindSquare Help setting. This means that VoiceOver hints will remain active in all of the other applications you use, but in BlindSquare itself context sensitive help will not be spoken anymore.

Track Destination Automatically on Entire Route

When you use the Plan a Route feature found on the Place Summary screen to start navigation to a place using a third-party navigation app, BlindSquare will start to track the place as soon as the distance is smaller than 150 meters. If this setting is active, BlindSquare will not wait until you have approached the place and the distance is shorter than 150 meters, but it will start tracking as soon as you activate the Plan a Route feature. BlindSquare will track the place on the entire route and announce its distance and direction frequently.

Shake Gesture Settings

This button will open a subscreen where you can select several options for the shake gesture.

When you shake your device, BlindSquare can search your current address, check you in to the nearest Foursquare place, or announce the current values on the pedometer. Activate the options for the actions you want BlindSquare to perform when you shake your device.

Shake to Search Address

If you activate this setting, BlindSquare will announce your current address, the direction you are heading in and the closest intersection. This is the same information you can obtain by going to Tools, Your Location, but shaking your phone might be a quicker method to hear this information when you are on the go.

Shake to Check in to a Place

If you activate this feature, you can check in to Foursquare places near you by shaking your phone. Shake a second time to confirm your check-in.

Shake to Read Pedometer

If you shake your device while this setting is active, BlindSquare will announce the distance you have covered so far and the time you have traveled. Since BlindSquare can recognize if you are walking or riding in a vehicle, it will only count the distance you have covered by foot.

Audio Menu Settings

This button will open a screen where you can determine how you want to use the remote control of your headset with BlindSquare. You can also select the actions you want BlindSquare to perform when you use the Location item in the Audio Menu.

Use of Headset Remote

If you select BlindSquare, the Audio Menu will start playing when you press the Play button on your headset. When this option is selected, you will not be able to control music or video playback with the buttons on your headset.

If you activate the Music and Video Playback option, you can use the buttons on your headset to start or stop music playback, skip to the next or previous song, provided your headset supports these functions.

The default setting for this option is BlindSquare. You only need to change it if you want to listen to music while using BlindSquare.

Announce Address

If you select Location from the Audio Menu while this option is active, BlindSquare will announce your current address, the direction you are heading in and the closest intersection. This is the same information you can obtain by going to Tools, Your Location, but using the Audio Menu might be a quicker method to hear this information when you are on the go.

Check in to a Place

If you activate this feature, you can check in to Foursquare places near you by selecting the Location Audio Menu item. Press Play again to confirm your check-in.

Read Pedometer

If you select Location from the Audio Menu while this option is active, BlindSquare will announce the distance you have covered so far and the time you have traveled. Since BlindSquare can recognize if you are walking or riding in a vehicle, it will only count the distance you have covered by foot.

Intersection Announcement Distance

When BlindSquare announces your distance to an intersection, it uses the center of the intersection as a reference point. This means that the width of the street also determines how soon you hear the BlindSquare intersection announcement before you reach the curb. If you live in an area where the streets are narrow, you may find that BlindSquare announces intersections too early, whereas in an area where streets are particularly wide, intersections may be announced too late. If the default medium setting of this option does not work to your satisfaction, try using the Long setting if streets in your area are wide or Short if streets are very narrow.

Automatic Sleep Time

BlindSquare can recognize when your location does not change and if running in the background, will send BlindSquare into Sleep Mode after a specified period of time ranging from five to 90 minutes. You can also set BlindSquare not to activate Sleep Mode automatically. Double-tap the Automatic Sleep Time button and select the desired option from the menu.

Distance Unit

The next option lets you set the distance unit to be used in BlindSquare. You can select Meters, Feet or Yards.

Direction Style

Using the next option you can choose how BlindSquare should inform you about the direction of POI and intersections. If you select the Clockface setting, BlindSquare might for example announce “post office at 4 o’clock”, which means that the post office is on your right slightly behind you. If you select the Proportional setting, BlindSquare will say “post office right, diagonally back”. If you select Degree, BlindSquare will announce the post office as “Post office 130 degrees to the right”. The default setting is clockface, as this is what most people find easiest to understand.

Speech, Sounds, and Languages

The next section of the Settings screen contains options referring to BlindSquare’s interface sounds and language and available voices.

Speech Rate lets you set the speech rate and volume lets you set the volume of the Acapela or iOS voices used in BlindSquare. Please note that speech rate will be saved for each voice separately. If you like to use BlindSquare mainly in English but sometimes also in Spanish, you can have it speak faster in English than in Spanish. When you switch between the two languages, BlindSquare will remember the correct rate you have set for each of them.

The BlindSquare Sounds button will open a subscreen where you can listen to, select and deselect all of the sounds BlindSquare uses to notify you of specific events. When you touch the name of a sound or set the VoiceOver focus on the name of a sound, BlindSquare will play it and read its description to you. By default all sounds are active. Deactivate the sounds for the events you do not want to be notified of through sound. Double-tap the Back button in the top left of the screen or perform the scrub gesture to return to the settings screen.

The next button is called Select Language. When you double-tap on it, you will see a screen listing all of the languages BlindSquare currently supports. As you flick through the screen, you will hear the name of each language, if it is selected, the default voice for the language, and how many voices there are available for it. If you want to select another language, just double-tap the one you want. You will then be presented with the list of voices available for that language. For most languages supported by BlindSquare, both iOS and Acapela voices are available. The iOS voices are preinstalled on your device. The Acapela voices are third-party voices that are downloaded onto your device if you select them. Double-tapping a voice selects it and plays a short voice clip for you to listen to. If you prefer another voice, just double-tap it and the previous voice will not be activated. When you have selected your new voice and/or language, use either the Back button at the top left of the screen or perform the scrub gesture until you are back on the main screen. If your selected voice is an Acapela voice, BlindSquare will now inform you that an additional voice will have to be downloaded onto your device. If you are not connected to a Wi-Fi network, it will ask you if you would like to use your cellular phone network for the download. If you agree, the voice will be downloaded. If you disagree, you will be asked again when you are connected to a Wi-Fi network. When the download has started, you will see a screen informing you about the progress. Once the voice download has completed, BlindSquare will speak using the new voice.

Delete Unused Voices

The Delete Unused Voices button will let you delete all voices that you may have downloaded previously but no longer need. If VoiceOver hints on your device and the BlindSquare help are active, you will also hear how many MB of memory can be cleared if you decide to delete the voices currently not in use.

Bluetooth Settings

Double-tapping this button opens a screen where you can turn iBeacon detection on or off. This option has to be active if you want to be able to use BlindSquare’s indoor navigation capabilities. Please note that indoor navigation is only available in areas where a BlindSquare supported indoor navigation system has been installed.

Accessory Devices

This button found in the Other menu will open a screen with information about recommended accessories to use with BlindSquare and will provide links where you can purchase them. These accessories are not necessary to benefit from using BlindSquare, but they greatly enhance the user experience.

Bone conduction headphones are a product whose use we highly recommend. They do not cover your ears, because the sound pads that emit the sound sit on your jawbones in front of your ears. The sound is not fed through your eardrums but your bones. Since your ears remain free, you will be able to simultaneously hear BlindSquare’s announcements and traffic noise and echoes to help you orient.

Give Feedback

Double-Tap this button to contact the developer of BlindSquare. It will open an Email that contains the correct Email address in the recipient field and the version number of your BlindSquare and of the device you are using in the subject line. Double-tap the body of the Email to compose your message. When you are done, send it by double-tapping the button at the top right of the screen.

Rate Application

This button will open a screen where you can rate BlindSquare in the App Store. If you find BlindSquare useful, this would be a good way to show your appreciation.

Help and Support

If you would like to ask additional questions about BlindSquare, make a suggestion, or give feedback, do not hesitate to Email us. There is also a BlindSquare mailing list where users of BlindSquare from many countries help each other to get the most out of BlindSquare. Subscribe to the mailing list by sending a blank Email.

You can also follow us on Twitter to keep up with the latest news about BlindSquare.

7 comments on “User Guide
  1. Scott Cruce says:

    So after selecting a category on the main screen, how do I get search results? When I click on the search button, it wants a search term. Also, when I turn speech off, it doesn’t stay off. I thought with speech off, it would let my regular Voiceover voice do the talking. Is that correct? Other than that, I like the app a lot. Thanks.

    • Ile says:

      If you select category, it searches all venues inside selected radius and shows the result in new page. If no venues are found, you will hear error message and information about nearest venue of that type. If you have shut down TTS, you will not hear this. This is fixed in next version, it will say it via VO.

      IN next version you will also have better control turning speaking on/off.

  2. clarence carter says:

    How do I create favorites?

    Thanks!

  3. Mike Scanlan says:

    I am trying to use the plan a route feature in order to get turn by turn directions but this doesn’t appear to be working for me! Can’t find any instructions in the ap. Can you help?

  4. Julien says:

    Hello,
    In these instructions, I can read:

    In the BlindSquare settings you can configure which of these actions you want performed when you use the Location item in the Audio Menu. The same options are available for the Shake gesture, too, so you can configure BlindSquare to perform different actions depending on whether you use the Location item in the Audio Menu or the Shake gesture.

    Apparently, there is the option to configur shake gesture, but not the one to configur audio menu behaviour 🙂

    Good app! 🙂

  5. Ile says:

    Yes it does. There are thousands of users from Germany.

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