Instructions

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.

Using 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 power button of your device point in the direction you are interested in. 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.

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. While you walk, please carry your device with its back pointing toward the same direction you are travelling in. 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 BlindSquare 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.

Search

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 at the bottom of 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.

Category Search

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 selectedradius.

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, 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 from one subcategory, just open the respective subcategory to view a list of those places.

Using BlindSquare in Vehicles

BlindSquare will detect when you are using it in a vehicle, switch to vehicle mode, and determine your direction using GPS. This means it is not necessary for you to hold your device with its back pointing in the direction you are driving in to obtain accurate information. 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 your stop is further away from you than your current 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 either track it to have BlindSquare announce the direction and distance from time to time. Alternatively, you can also add it to your My Places listand 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.

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 My Places button on the main screen and double-tap it to open the My Places list. If this is the first place you save, your list will still be empty at this point. Find the Add button in the top right of the screen and double-tap it. This will 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.

Navigating to a Destination

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. 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 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 thesection 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.

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, BlindSquare will send more queries to the server.

If you do 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.

To enter a place as a Foursquare venue, it is best to use the Foursquare app.

The following instructions apply to the iOS Foursquare app:

  1. Open the app on your device and sign in to your account. Make sure you are at the location of the place you want to add to Foursquare. When you have opened the Foursquare app, you will see the Check In button at the bottom of the main screen.
  2. Double-tap the Check In button. This will bring up a list of places in your surroundings where you can check in.
  3. If the place you are interested in does not appear in this list, you may create it. To do this, double-tap the search places edit box at the top of the list to go into edit mode.
  4. Enter the name of the place you want to add to Foursquare and hit the Search button in the bottom right of the screen. This will bring up a list of search results that are similar to what you have just entered.
  5. Navigate to the bottom of this list or flick to the right until you hear “Add this place” and double-tap. This will bring up a screen where you can enter information about your new place. The name field will contain the words you have used as a search term. If you have entered the full name as a search term, you do not need to make any changes here.
  6. Flick on until you hear “Category” and double-tap, as this is a required field. You will now see a list of different Foursquare categories.
  7. Choose the correct one for your venue. You may be presented with another list of subcategories; again, choose the correct one for your venue.
  8. When you have selected the right category, you will be returned to the venue creation page of the Foursquare app. If you like you can add more information about your place, such as address, phone number etc. However, this is not required.
  9. When you have entered all of the information you want to appear on the page of the venue, find the Add button in the top right of the screen and double-tap.

You have now created a new Foursquare venue.

Please note that BlindSquare will only announce your place 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 Syntellia Inc., developer of the Fleksy Keyboard and with MPaja, developer of the MBraille app, BlindSquare offers two alternative text input methods.

Fleksy Keyboard

Fleksy is a keyboard that lets you enter text more quickly than the iOS onscreen keyboard. It does not require that you hit the exact letters you wish to type, but you can touch the screen near where the letter is that you want to enter. Analyzing the pattern of where you touch the screen, Fleksy will predict the word you intended to write. Please read the Fleksy manual to learn how to type using Fleksy. The Fleksy keyboard is integrated into BlindSquare, so it is not necessary to install the Fleksy app on your device in order to use the keyboard in BlindSquare. Please note that currently, the integrated Fleksy keyboard only supports English and Spanish. Other languages may be added in future.

It is possible to activate Fleksy separately for different text fields in BlindSquare. If you decide to use Foursquare in English, you can activate Fleksy for Foursquare, but leave it deselected for searches or adding places. This way you will be able to post check-ins and tips to Foursquare in English, but also to enter search terms and place names in other languages than English and Spanish when necessary. Go to the BlindSquare settings to select the edit boxes where you would like Fleksy to be active and to adjust keyboard behavior.

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.

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

Skips to next sentence in speech buffer while BlindSquare is talking.

Skips to next menu item.

Press center button twice quickly.

Previous Track

Announces your current location and additional information as configured in BlindSquare settings or if Look Around mode is active, exits it.

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 functions 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 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. Remember to position it so that its back points in your walking direction, i.e. the same direction as your face.

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. If your device is positioned so that its back points in the same direction as your face, 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.

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 six buttons. From left to right they are Search, 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.

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 Category Search

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 users of the Foursquare service, 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.

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

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 for 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. Swiping 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 BlindSquare 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 current place. 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.

When you activate the Favorite switch button, the current 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 thePlace 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:

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

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:

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.

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 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 Searchand 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.

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. Open the My Places list from the main screen and double-tap the Add Place button at the top right of the 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 the Place Summary screen, double-tap the favorite switch button. This will also put the current place on to 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 name of the place from Foursquare. 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 number. 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.

Search

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. Hit 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.

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.

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

The Tools Menu

The Tools menu contains several items all related to your location and orientation. 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, Recent Places, Nearby Intersections, GPS Info, Contacts, and Braille Display. Additional items that are available only when certain BlindSquare features are used are End Simulation, Return to third-party navigation app, Tracked Places, and Stop Tracking All.

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 the Power button facing the direction you are interested in. 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.

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.

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 entry. As soon as there is a change, VoiceOver will announce the new value. When you are tracking places, distance and direction to the tracked place 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.

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, i.e. 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.

My Places

BlindSquare not only uses Foursquare and Open Street Map to inform you about your vicinity, but it also lets you save your own places in BlindSquare. Your Places are saved in iCloud and will be synchronized automatically if BlindSquare is used on more than one device. When you double-tap the My Places button on the main screen, you will see two lists of your saved places. In the top list, they are sorted according to popularity, and in the list below, they are sorted according to distance. Both of the lists have a heading. In order to quickly jump from one list to the other, set your VoiceOver rotor to Headings and flick up or down respectively. Double-tap a place to navigate to the Place Summary screen where you can see more information, read Foursquare tips about the place, search for the place on Google, look up its address, Track the place, plan a route to the place using a third-party navigation app, simulate that you are at the place, and edit its information.

You can also delete saved places from the My Places list screen. Just touch the item you would like to delete, swipe down and double-tap.

For more information about the options available on the Place Summary screen, please see theits description.

Tracked Places

When the Track Place function has been activated for a specific place, BlindSquare will announce the direction of and distance to that 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. Double-tap a place to see the Place Summary screen and to stop tracking for that place. 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, you should go to the list of tracked places also found in the Tools menu and stop tracking the place on its Place Summary screen.

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 a Foursquare venue, 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 left 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 fifth button in the row of buttons on 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 Select All button in the bottom left corner and the Deselect All button in the bottom right corner of the screen.

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.

Other

The fourth 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.

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 thePlan 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.

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.

Fleksy Keyboard Settings

If you use BlindSquare in a language that is supported by the Fleksy keyboard see alternative text input methods, you can change your Fleksy keyboard preferences here. You can activate and deactivate the Fleksy keyboard for different use cases: entering search terms, adding places to your My Places list, and posting to Foursquare. If the Typing Sounds option is active, you will hear sounds when entering characters or completing a word. Using the Voice Feedback option, you will hear your text as you enter it. When the Spell Words setting is active, the Fleksy Keyboard will speak each letter as you type it.

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.