Nearby Explorer Online logo
Nearby Explorer Online™ for Android

User's Guide

Copyright 2015

American Printing House for the Blind, Inc.

Location and Navigation

Survival and success depend on good orientation skills. This is an especially challenging fact for people who are blind, because they must use only auditory and tactile queues to determine their position in relation to other objects or places.

For thousands of years, people used landmarks and line-of-sight to return home after a long day on the hunt, but these techniques became less effective the further they traveled. Eventually, explorers discovered consistent heavenly bodies that could aid with orientation. For example, early sailors kept a constellation to the left side of the ship to help with navigation. They could use this technique to reliably travel hundreds of miles.

Within the last few centuries, specialized instruments have been developed to aid in positional calculations. Lewis and Clark used such tools to map the Louisiana Purchase. Nevertheless, it took several hours and an intimate knowledge of the instruments and techniques to take a measurement. Then, when the trip was complete, others calculated the measurements to determine the actual position of each measurement.

With the introduction of the Global Positioning System (GPS) in the last few decades, the power to quickly and accurately determine your place on earth (with no training) is available to anyone. When combined with an accessible interface, and customizable and current information about points of interest (POIs), the tools provide a compelling picture of the vicinity and its characteristics.

The tools provided by Nearby Explorer Online (Nearby) make independent travel for blind pedestrians and passengers efficient, informative, and fun. Knowledge of your surroundings empowers you to explore, discover, and enjoy your own neighborhood and beyond with poise and confidence.


The information that Nearby Explorer Online provides helps the blind traveler stay oriented. It shows surrounding and approaching streets, businesses, institutions, and public facilities, and offers continually updating distance and directional information to the nearest or selected location.

Nearby provides a sense of the surrounding streets and their relationship to the user's current position. Additionally, it enables the blind passenger in a vehicle to aid the driver with directions and suggestions.

Nearby Explorer Online include some of the features listed below:

  1. Increases awareness of precise position. Nearby announces the street and address of the current position of the user and gives continual updates with movement. For even finer detail, latitude and longitude announcements pinpoint positions to within a few yards.
    Note: The announcing feature is optional for all items.
  2. Increases the sense of distance. It updates distances to selected locations as the user advances toward or away from the location.
  3. Improves knowledge of surroundings. It displays the distance, direction, name, and address of the nearest location in points of interest (POIs) the user sets.
  4. Improves orientation to surrounding businesses. It lets the user to get haptic and verbal feedback about the name of and the distance to objects to which he points.
  5. Searches for and immediately displays places, streets, and addresses.
  6. Displays heading and speed.
  7. Surveys a selected place, and provides the distance and direction.
  8. Accepts direct input of a latitude and longitude point, names the point, and saves it for later use in activities such as geocaching.
  9. Intelligently announces latitude and longitude of the current position.

About This Manual

This documentation was complete and accurate at the time of its writing. When there are updates or corrections, you may find them at

There is also an email list dedicated to the use of this app. Many knowledgeable users and developers are on the list, and it is a great place to make suggestions, provide tips, and ask questions.

To subscribe to the list, send a blank email message to


While it is tempting to assume that location based software, such as Nearby Explorer Online, solves all the navigation and orientation barriers faced by blind travelers, there are a number of conditions that must be considered. To better appreciate these benefits and limitations, it is useful to obtain a basic understanding of how the technology works.

There are several components in play. Two of the most important are GPS and maps.


The mobile device (phone or tablet) uses a global positioning system (GPS) receiver to read signals sent from an array of satellites designed for this purpose. The receiver uses these signals to pinpoint a position on earth and assign lateral and longitudinal coordinates to that position. In general, a good consumer-grade receiver can render accuracy to within a few yards of a person's actual position under optimal conditions. More realistically, you can expect to achieve accuracy (most of the time) good enough to determine on which side of the street you are traveling.

Some of the conditions that adversely affect accuracy with reading satellite signals include the following:


The latitude and longitude coordinates do not mean much to most users, so they must be combined with maps that contain more familiar landmarks such as streets and places.

There are several factors about the map data that are useful to understand to make the most effective use of the software.

You must pay attention to your environment. The data given from Nearby Explorer Online are suggestions, not absolute facts. The present conditions and immediate environment must always take precedence over Nearby's suggestions.

There is a TV commercial where the driver of an automobile crashes into a wall after his GPS says, "Turn right" only after a pause to be followed by "in one hundred yards." While the commercial may seem comical, paying attention to your environment is a serious matter.


Nearby Explorer Online requires a device running Android 2.3 or later and a device with a GPS chip and the ability to connect to a cellular network.

Nearby Explorer Online requires the GPS chip to be turned on. Turn the GPS chip off only if you never or rarely use any GPS services. When not in use, its power consumption is minimal.

To turn the chip on or off, follow these steps:

  1. Press Home to go to the Home screen.
  2. Press Menu to open the Home screen menu.
  3. Choose Settings from the menu.
  4. Choose Location and Security.
  5. Select or unselect the GPS option accordingly.
  6. For faster acquisition of a position, also select the Network option.

When the GPS chip is in use, such as when using Nearby Explorer Online, battery consumption is significantly increased. It is necessary, in fact, to plug in the device if using it on a long trip where the GPS is in use for more than several hours at a time.

To pause the GPS power consumption, press Back until Nearby Explorer Online closes, or select Pause to shut down the GPS chip.


When you start the application, Nearby Explorer Online displays the Nearby screen and waits for positioning information from the GPS. If this is the first time the GPS chip in your device is used since the last reset, it may take several minutes to acquire a valid signal. The process to obtain a signal is called a "fix" as in fixing your position. The initial fix time is aided by using cell network information to obtain a general location. While the network method to fix your position is fast, it is not as accurate as the fix obtained from satellites. The Provider item on the Nearby screen shows where positioning information is obtained.

If your device does not obtain a satellite fix, there are some alternatives you may employ to improve the chances of acquiring a good signal.

Once the GPS receiver obtains a fix, subsequent starts occur much more quickly.

The Nearby screen provides information about your current position. You use it in one of two ways:

  1. Use the arrow keys to move up and down the Settings list and note the value of each item in the list. Nearby Explorer Online keeps the list updated with real-time positioning information. It reads the GPS receiver location information every second and updates the Nearby screen whenever that information changes.
  2. Check the appropriate item. Once it is checked, Nearby Explorer Online either articulates that item or posts a notification whenever the information changes as you move. Once an item is checked, you can put the device in sleep mode or start another app and Nearby will continue to notify you with updates about your changing position. If you are using a phone with a touch screen, this is the normal operating procedure. In this way, you may put the phone in a pocket or purse and continue to get updates.
Screen shot of Settings menu with several options checked

Figure 1. The Settings menu

The items you check depend on how you wish to use the program.

Nearby Explorer Online remembers the checked items, so when you close and then open the app again, your previously selected items are still checked.

Screen shot of Nearby Explorer Online Home menu displaying saved settings

Figure 2. Nearby Explorer Online Home menu

While walking in an unfamiliar area, it is useful to check the street address, street name, and possibly the nearest point of interest (POI) and the distance to the nearest POI. However, if you are riding in a car, it may be too much to have street numbers announced, and it is almost certainly too much to have distances to POIs announced.

You will likely want information that changes very infrequently to be checked. For example, City, County, State, and Provider are items that change so infrequently that you may wish to have them selected at all times.

It is important to keep "chatter" to a minimum. Since most of the information from the Nearby screen is time sensitive, it is not useful to have too much verbal communication. By the time you hear it, it would no longer be relevant.

To stop using Nearby Explorer Online, select Back to exit the program.

Nearby Screen Options

In addition to checking the items to monitor by pressing Select, you may hold Select to show a menu of options related to the Nearby screen. These options let you bookmark positions and perform other actions on the current position. Each option is explained in relative sections below.

You may also select the list item, Show/Hide, to customize what appears on the main screen.

As the program starts, Nearby attempts to obtain good satellite reception to accurately fix your position. During the recovery process, the text to speech (TTS) may sound like your position is changing. This is especially apparent if you have the Heading, Street Address, and Street Name boxes selected. As the fix becomes more accurate, Nearby announces the changing addresses. This process usually takes only a moment or two. If the process is bothersome, touch the screen to silence the speech until the position stabilizes.

The following sections explain the options on the Nearby screen. Some options, such as State or City, are self-explanatory and are not covered with a separate section.


The Provider option presents information about where Nearby Explorer Online is getting its positioning information. GPS is the most accurate, but occasionally, a GPS signal is not available. In such cases, the source is the network; either Wi-Fi or cell data.

When Nearby first opens, it receives its initial position from the network. Once the GPS chip is turned on and acquires satellite readings, the Provider switches to GPS.


When the Heading item on the Nearby screen is checked, Nearby Explorer Online announces the heading and continually updates it as you move. This heading is derived by comparing the location of the last reading with the position of the current reading. This means that in order to get a heading from GPS, you must be moving.

The Heading tells you the direction in which you are moving. Nearby Explorer Online uses that information to determine which streets you are approaching. When you stop moving, the heading becomes blank.


The cardinal heading is expressed as one of the following eight possibilities:

Clock Face

If you select Clock Face as the display preference, Nearby Explorer Online still announces the cardinal position, but it adds the clock face value to the direction as well.

Directly north is 12:00; directly south is 6:00, and so on.


Selecting Degrees as the display option adds the exact degree to the cardinal announcement.

Street Number

The Street Number option on the Nearby screen provides the closest house number of the current position. As you move, the number changes to reflect the new, closest address.

Nearby Explorer Online normally calculates street addresses by dividing a block into equal segments and assigning a number to each segment. There are cases where this approach can report a number that is one or two houses away from the actual address. Take the example of a large business that occupies an entire block. While its published address might be 900 Main Street, as you walk down the block, Nearby Explorer Online gladly reports 900, 902, 904, all the way to the end of block and the official last number.

Nearby Explorer Online offers two methods of obtaining a street address that can be more reliable than the estimation method it normally employs. These selection alternatives are Google and OpenStreetMap. Remember that to use either of these two alternatives, you need a network connection. To use one of the alternative methods, select Address Provider on the Settings screen, then choose either Google or OpenStreetMap.

Street Name

The Street Name option displays the street on which the user is currently traveling. If this item is selected, the name of the street is announced when you turn onto another street or when you enter a cross street.

When approaching a cross street, depending on the accuracy of the GPS signal, Nearby announces the name of the cross street as you enter the street. Inaccurate signals may make it announce the cross street either before or after you enter or leave the street crossing.

To constantly update your street address while walking, check both the Street Number and Street Name boxes. As you walk, Nearby announces the street address but not the street name (because the street name is not changing). With both boxes checked, when you approach and pass a cross street, the app announces the name of the street and the closest house number on that street. Often, Nearby announces an address from each side of the cross street as you pass it. The first is the closest house number on the side of the street on which you are traveling. As you cross, the app announces the second number which is the closest house number on the far side of the street.

As you turn onto another street, Nearby Explorer Online announces the name of that street as soon as it recognizes the new coordinates. This usually occurs within a few seconds of the turn.

The street number and name announcements are two of the best ways to obtain the most detailed information about your location. When combined with a Nearby Places address, which is also approximated, you can easily determine on which side of the street you are traveling and on which side the desired destination is located.

Note: Poor GPS reception can result in misinformation, such as addresses located on the wrong side of the street. If this happens, avoid setting any Favorites until you obtain a better signal, and keep in mind the inaccuracies.

How Addresses and Highways Work

In many US cities, the city is divided into quadrants with a street separating the north quadrant from the south and a street separating the east quadrant from the west. Any street that is west of the east/west line often contains "W" in the name to indicate that it is west of the dividing line between east and west. Similarly, streets east of the east/west line often contain "E" in the name. The addresses begin at the east/west line and increase as they move away from it in either direction. Thus, if the east/west dividing line is Main Street, and Maple Street intersects Main, the addresses west of Main would start with 100 and increase as you move west. 400 W. Maple Street is west of 300 W. Maple Street. Similarly, the addresses east of Main increase as you move east, so 200 E. Maple Street is east of 100 E. Maple Street.

Often a block starts with an address such as 100 or 200 and increases to 99 before the next block begins, so addresses on a typical block range from numbers such as 100 to 199 or 200 to 299. Of course, if a street is particularly long, the street numbers might be a range of five digit numbers such as 26800 to 26899.

Even-numbered addresses are on one side of the street, and odd numbers are on the other side. Usually, 200 is straight across the street from 201. In most cases, the even-numbered addresses fall on the south and west sides of a street, and the odd-numbered addresses fall on the north and east sides.

Interstates and highways indicate their prevailing direction by their route number. All the even-numbered interstates and highways generally travel from east to west, and odd-numbered interstates and highways go from north to south.

Even numbered interstates (east/west) are numbered smallest to largest, starting in the south and increasing to 100 as you move north. For example, Interstate 10 is the southernmost interstate. It runs from New Orleans to Los Angeles. I-20 is north of I-10 and runs from Kent, Texas to Florence, South Carolina.

Odd numbered interstates (north/south) are numbered lowest to highest starting from the west coast and increasing as you move east. I-5 is on the west coast, and I-95 is on the east coast.

When a city has an interstate that routes traffic circuitously around the heart of the city, the interstate is given a three-digit number in the 200, 400, or 600 range. It derives its number from the interstate that it branches from. In Dallas, for example, the LBJ Freeway is numbered I-635 because it loops around Dallas branching from I-35.

Interstates are marked with mile markers, one every mile. Mile markers on an interstate begin at the border of each new state. They start with zero at the southern border and increase as you move north for odd numbered or north/south interstates. They start with zero at the western border of the state increasing as you move east for the even numbered or east/west routes.

If an interstate does not start at the state's border, the mile markers begin numbering at the start of the interstate.

The exits on an interstate are indicated by the mile marker. Exit 5 is always located between mile marker 5 and 6. If there are two or more exits within a mile, their designation includes both the mile marker and a suffix letter. If there were three exits at marker 5, they would be labeled 5A, 5B, and 5C.

When you see exits in the map data, they are treated like streets, but the street name is the exit number. Therefore, it is not uncommon to have streets entering and exiting the interstate with names such as 8 or 8A.

Interstates are named with "I-" followed by the interstate number. I-40 E refers to the eastbound lanes of Interstate 40.

US highways are labeled with the prefix "US-" followed by the route number. US-67 refers to US Highway, Route 67.

State highways are named with the state abbreviation followed by the highway number as in IN-62 for Indiana Highway 62.

County roads are labeled with "County Road" or some abbreviation such as "CR" followed by the number of the road as in CR 1429.

Normally, you would expect that the street address of a location on an interstate would be the mile marker number. Nearby Explorer Online currently contains a bug that returns a street number for interstates that are close to the street numbers of nearby streets.

Nearby (POIs) and Nearby Position

The Nearby Places item on the Nearby screen indicates the closest POI to your current location. If you check the Nearby Position checkbox, the app also announces the distance and direction to that POI and continually updates the information as you approach and then leave that location. These POIs include nearby places, favorites, and transit stops in supported cities.

By default, Nearby Explorer Online shows the four closest places and updates the distance and direction to the nearest one as you move. To show more or less places, use the context menu and pick "Maximum Places Per Location" to set the number of places to report from one to eight.

If you live in a city for which Nearby Explorer Online supports a public transit feed, one of the kinds of places the app reports is transit stop information. The report includes the time, direction, and route name of the next bus or train. These live transit reports are active only when moving less than 10 miles per hour.

To control which type of information Nearby Explorer Online reports, long press the Nearby item on the main screen. At the top of the context menu, there are three items: Show Nearby Places, Show Transit Stop Information, and Show Favorites. You may select any or all of these options.

Point to Nearby Places With Geo-beam

Graphic image of a device pointing at a building or location. The device is transmitting a beam that detects the location. In turn, the device receives feedback from that location.

Figure 3. How geo-beam works

Since your device knows both your current location and the location of POIs around you, it is possible to use the device's compass to point at features in the environment and receive feedback about that feature. The feedback is received as a vibration (haptic feedback), a sound (tone), and an announcement (speech) with the name and distance of the POI. The vibration, in particular, makes pinpointing places both intuitive and easy. Think of this feedback as a beam (we call it geo-beam) emitting from the end of the device which you can use to point directly to features in the environment. As long as you maintain the direction, the vibration continues. You can use this vibration to guide you to the point.

Caution: There may be obstructions between you and the POI. Nearby Explorer Online cannot know about certain environmental barriers that may exist between you and the point. You must use traditional mobility techniques to ensure the path is safe or to follow a safe path to the point.

The tone also conveys information about the distance of the object to which you point. The higher the pitch, the closer you are to that point. Note that the speech also announces the distance, but the tone can be used to quickly get an idea about which objects are closest as you scan the environment. Note, too, that the tone is important for those devices, like the Nexus 7 tablet, that do not have a haptic feedback feature.

There are two ways to position your device to use geo-beam. For both positions, the "business end" is considered the top edge. To engage geo-beam in the first position, hold the device out in front of you, (as though you were handing it to someone), pointing the business end in the direction of the POI. The screen should be facing skyward.

In the first position, Nearby lets you know about the closest POI when you point to it. If you have a destination or a watch set, use the device in this position to find the destination or watch point.

The second position is the normal geo-beam operating position. It is achieved by rotating the device 90 degrees counter clockwise from position 1, (as though you were shaking hands with someone). In this position, the screen faces to the left if you are right-handed and to the right if left-handed.

As you move your device into this position, Nearby Explorer Online makes a sound and indicates geo-beam as its provider. When you move it out of geo-beam position, Nearby makes another sound and, if you have the Provider item on the Nearby screen checked, announces the new provider of the information. This will usually be "GPS."

Point the end of the device in different directions while maintaining its orientation. When the end of the device points to a POI, Nearby makes a sound, vibrates, and announces the name of the place and its distance.

When using the geo-beam, be sure to take notice of these characteristics:

To turn geo-beam off, unselect its setting in the Menu / More / Settings screen. Doing so lets you position the phone without getting feedback about nearby places.

If geo-beam does not behave as you expect, you may select the Use Old Style Orientation Sensor option in the Settings dialog to help fine tune the behavior.

Nearby Places Addresses

In addition to the name of the item or location, Nearby Explorer Online can provide the address of the nearest place. The address is a useful tool in determining information, such as which side of the street a place is located or if that a place resides on a different street than the one on which you are located. On the other hand, it also adds lots of "chattering," especially when traveling by vehicle. Nearby Explorer Online tries to minimize the chatter by providing the address in a shorthand form. If the place is on the same street on which you are traveling, the app announces only the number on that street. If the place resides on another street, Nearby Explorer Online announces only that street name.

To set whether or not to announce the address along with the name of the place, follow these steps:

  1. Press Menu to open the Nearby Explorer Online menu.
  2. Select Settings.
  3. To hear the address, select the option Include Street Address in Nearby Place. To not hear the address, make sure this is unselected.

A Note About Addresses

Remember that the addresses to places are approximate. You cannot count on the reported address to be exact. The maps do not contain the actual address. You may try changing the address provider to Google or OpenStreetMap to see if those report more accurately in your area. Go to Settings / Use Google for Street Addresses or OpenStreetMap.

Adjust Nearest Place Behavior

Normally, Nearby Explorer Online reports the direction to the nearest place as a compass direction, but you may change this behavior to receive direction as a position on a clock face. To do that, long press Nearby Position and select the Report as Clock Face option.

You must have a data connection as Nearby Exploere Online uses the Google Places™ business listings sevice. This service can provide POIs in interesting and useful ways.

The Google Places™ business listings service provides as many as 20 place results for each search request. Therefore, it can provide different, more general, or more meaningful results by increasing the radius of the search. Google Places™ business listings service allows a radius of up to approximately 30 miles.

By default, Nearby Explorer Online uses a radius of about 170 yards to help identify the nearest place. This radius usually provides adequate information about almost any small business, government facility, or other place in relative proximity. If you are located where there are few businesses or institutions, or if you reduce the radius too much, the number of results can be reduced to none. In this case, Nearby Explorer Online temporarily increases the radius until something shows up.

To change the radius that Nearby Explorer Online uses to identify the nearest place or search result, follow these steps:

There are a few ways to adjust the radius. Perhaps the easiest is to put the device into geo-beam position. When you do, Nearby Explorer Online shows a dialog with two buttons—Increase Radius toward the top of the screen, and Decrease Radius near the bottom. Tap the button that represents how you wish to change the radius.

If you have a device with a keyboard, you may use the following technique to change the radius:

  1. Highlight the Nearby Position item on the Nearby screen.
  2. To decrease the radius, press Left Arrow.
  3. To increase the radius, press Right Arrow.
  4. To select the smallest radius, press Alt + Left Arrow.
  5. To select the largest radius, press Alt + Right Arrow.

If you use a device with no arrow keys, long press the Nearby Position item and select Set Radius from the context menu. Nearby Explorer Online responds with a menu from which you may select the desired radius.

In addition to using the Nearby Position item with the left and right arrows, or using the context menu, you can use the Search command from the program's menu. When you receive the list of search results, you can use Right Arrow and Left Arrow to increase and decrease the search radius; you may press the two list items at the end of the list, either "Increase Search Radius" or "Decrease Search Radius;" or you may choose Radius from the Search menu to select the radius from a menu.

Each time you change the radius, Nearby Explorer Online announces the new radius and queries for a new set of results from Google Places™ business listings. If the results of the new search are different from those of the previous one, and you have the Nearby Places item checked, the app announces the new location that it considers closest based on your new radius. In addition, if you have the Nearby Position item selected, the app announces the distance and direction to that location.

If you are traveling in a vehicle, it makes little sense to use a small radius, especially in a tightly populated area. As you travel, increase the radius based on the environment and your personal preferences.


The Watch function is used to monitor a particular point of interest. It is most effective as a reference and orientation tool. When you monitor a POI, Nearby Explorer Online always displays the distance and direction to the Watch point from your current position. To set a place as a Watch, follow these steps:

  1. Select a search result or a Favorite.
  2. Press Select to open the menu of options for that POI.
  3. Select Set as Watch.

If you have the Watch box checked on the Nearby screen, the app monitors and announces the distance and direction to the place you are watching.

If you set a Watch position, the compass in your device can also be used to point to the Watch point. As you point at the watched position with your screen facing skyward, your device vibrates to let you know where that position is located in real time. For example, you could set the location of your car in a large parking lot as a Watch point and be able to locate it later without difficulty. If you clear the Watch point, by default your device vibrates when pointed at the next closest POI delineated in the Nearby Place item on the main screen. To turn off these vibration signals, clear the checkbox on the Watch item.

About Distance and Direction

If Nearby Explorer Online detects that the direction you are heading coincides with the direction to a Nearby Place, it tries to simplify the directions by using "ahead" or "behind" instead of a compass direction. For example, if you were traveling north along Main Street and there was a library 100 yards north, Nearby might say, "Library branch 100 yards ahead" instead of "Library branch 100 yards north."

Latitude and Longitude

The Latitude and Longitude items in the Nearby screen show the current values of these positions.

Latitudes and longitudes are lines drawn on a map to precisely pinpoint any location on earth. Together, these values are commonly called a lat/long value or a geocoded position.

You do not need to know about latitudes and longitudes to effectively use the software, but they can be useful in some situations. Once you leave the road network, these values still provide relevant positioning information.

Latitudes are equidistant horizontal lines that circle the earth with the zero parallel at the equator and the 90th parallels at the North and South Poles. Much of the U.S. and Canadian border lies on the 49th parallel north (or 49N latitude line). As you move north or south from the equator, the numbers increase, and the position is expressed in degrees with N or S postfixed to the number that represents the value. Some commonly known latitudes are:

Longitudes are vertical lines expressed in degrees as east or west of the prime meridian, which is located close to London at Greenwich, England. The vertical lines start at the prime meridian with zero and go to 180 on the opposite side of the earth. The lines all converge at the North and South Poles; as the lines get closer to the equator, the farther apart they are. As you move east or west, the numbers increase from the zero prime. Boston's longitude is W 70. Some longitude references use a negative sign (-) rather than a W notation to denote longitudes west of the prime. This software uses the W.

The following is a list of common longitudes in the United States; all are west of the prime meridian.

While latitudes and longitudes are expressed as degrees, they are more precisely denoted with minutes and seconds as well. This notation method is called Degree-Minute-Second (DMS).

There are a number of ways to represent latitudes and longitudes. The combination method this software uses expresses degrees and minutes separated by a colon, followed with a period and a fraction of a minute with three digit precision. This amount of precision works out so that each change in the fractional part equates to a few yards.

If the Latitude or Longitude item is checked in the Nearby screen, the app minimizes the amount of speech by announcing only the parts of the number that change. For instance, if you were at longitude W 85:42.815 and you moved a little farther west into W 85:42.816, Nearby announces only "W 816." The W lets you know the number is a longitude, and the "816" lets you know the finer detail. As you continue to travel west, the longitude cycles through to 999 and then to goes to W 85:43.000. When that change occurs, Nearby announces the whole number.

Use Latitude and Longitude announcements in places away from the road network where you may want finer detail than street addresses or when you want to pinpoint locations in open spaces.

To enter a location by its latitude and longitude, follow these steps:

  1. From the Nearby screen, select Favorites from the main menu.
  2. In the Favorites screen open the menu again and select Create Favorite from Latitude / Longitude.
  3. Type a name for the new POI.
  4. Navigate to the Latitude and Longitude field and type the latitude and longitude in the area provided. Nearby recognizes lat/long values in either decimal or combination format.
  5. Press OK.

Nearby Explorer Online adds this new POI as a Favorite and returns you to the Favorites screen.

Adjust Precision of Reports

Depending on how you want to use the program, Nearby Explorer Online offers some flexibility about how it announces lat/long values and how it allows you move around the map using these precision settings.

By default, the program uses three digits of precision after the decimal to announce changes and permit movement on the map. Three decimal places of precision is equal to a few yards movement, depending on exactly how far you are from the equator. To get notifications about finer movement, increase the precision to four digits after the decimal. This degree of precision amounts to just a few inches. Unfortunately, today's satellite receivers are not accurate enough to use that amount of precision. If you set four digits of precision, and you have the Latitude or Longitude items selected, you will likely experience constantly changing numbers and consistent chatter.

To lessen the frequency of notifications, decrease the precision.

To alter the precision of lat/long tools, follow these steps:

  1. Highlight either the Latitude or Longitude item on the Nearby screen.
  2. Hold Select until the context menu appears.
  3. Select Set Speech Precision from the menu.
  4. Select the desired precision.

Using the left and right arrow keys on the Latitude and Longitude items on the main screen is a quick way to make a few movements on the map; but if you want to explore in more depth, use Navigation Mode. When Navigation Mode is in use, you may use all four arrow keys or the North, South, East, and West buttons to explore the map. As you move, Nearby Explorer Online notifies you about any of the items checked on the main screen. To turn on Navigation Mode, (1) hold Select until the context menu appears and (2) check the Navigation Mode option.

In Navigation Mode, the buttons and four arrow keys move as follows:

By default, each arrow key press or button click moves 20 yards. You may change the movement distance by following these steps:

  1. On a touch screen, press the Move More or Move Less buttons.
  2. Or, if using a keyboard, press menu.
  3. Select Set Movement Distance.
  4. Choose the distance you wish to move from the menu and then press Select.
Follow Roads

Navigation Mode moves in the exact direction you request by default. However, this can be a problem if you wish to follow a road that does not run exactly north/south or east/west. The Follow Roads checkbox on the Navigation Mode screen makes Nearby Explorer Online follow the road instead of moving in the precise direction you indicate. This usually works well, but it can sometimes cause Nearby Explorer Online to assume the incorrect street when navigating through an intersection. Changing the movement distance when near an intersection or specifying a different direction often helps you get back on the correct street in this situation.

If you are using a keyboard with Navigation Mode, you can change the Follow Roads setting from the Settings screen. Remember that you can press the letter S on your keyboard to quickly access Settings.

To exit Navigation Mode, press Select or use the Back button.


The Accuracy setting provides a number to be considered as a range. For instance, if the app shows "2 yards" the program is fairly confident that it knows your position within 2 yards. The smaller the number, the more accurate you should consider Nearby Explorer Online's information.

Number of Satellites

The number of satellites used affects the accuracy. The more satellites, the better the accuracy. You need at least four satellites to get an accurate position. It is not unusual to get 11 or 12. If you have the box checked for Number of Satellites, Nearby announces the available number and update changes.

Show/Hide Items

The Show/Hide Items option on the main screen lets you customize what appears on the screen. All items appear by default, but you may find you rarely ever care about some of them.

To hide items from the main screen, select Show/Hide Items and unselect any item you wish to omit from the home screen. Note that if the item is selected on the home screen and you hide it, Nearby Explorer Online continues to announce status changes to that item, even if it is hidden. Set the status of the announcement by checking or unchecking it on the main screen before you hide that item.

To unhide an item, select Show/Hide Items from the main screen, and uncheck the checkbox.


In addition to the POIs in the maps, you can add your own places. In Nearby Explorer Online, these are called Favorites.

Favorites are treated like Nearby Places. As you approach a Favorite, the app announces its name and location.

Favorites have one distinct advantage over POIs in the map data which is that you can mark a position more precisely than the ones provided in the maps. You may, for example, wish to mark the exact position of the front door to a restaurant or business. Remember the map data puts addresses just on either side of the center line of a street.

Another advantage of Favorites is you may denote POIs that may not be of interest to anyone else, such as a mailbox, trashcan, or park bench. Once you pinpoint the POI, save it as a Favorite and you will not miss it again.

Finally, you may publish your Favorites (explained shortly). When you publish a Favorite, other people using Nearby Explorer Online recognize that Favorite as part of the online map data from the Google Places™ business listings service. Note: A data connection is required to use this feature.

To set your current location as a Favorite, follow these steps:

  1. Move to the location you wish to mark. Make sure you do not stop in a street, on a railroad, or in any other area where it is unsafe to mark your position. Instead, as an example, mark the entrance to the railroad track.
  2. Check the Accuracy setting to make sure you are getting a good signal. You may even wish to check the latitude and longitude for consistency before you decide to mark the position. Approach the position for several days to ensure the lat/long values are consistent.
  3. Press and hold Select to display Nearby Explorer Online's Context menu.
  4. Select Save as Favorite. The app responds by displaying a dialog box where you may type a new name or press the OK button to accept the automatically generated name. The automatically generated name consists of the nearest address.

It is useful to give favorite places meaningful names that more precisely describe the marked position. When marking the door to a restaurant, for example, use exact wording to distinguish that Favorite from the more general POI in the maps. "Side Door to Wendy's" distinguishes the entrance from the map data's more general "Wendy's" moniker.

To display a list of your Favorites, press Menu to open the program menu and select Favorites.

The Favorites list organizes your Favorites by their distance from your current position, so the closest places are listed first.

Each item in the list shows the name of the Favorite, its distance and direction from your current position, and the nearest address to the location.

Screen shot of a Favorites list

Figure 4. A list of Favorites

To rename a Favorite, follow these steps:

  1. Press Menu to open the Nearby Explorer Online program menu.
  2. Select Favorites. Nearby responds by displaying the Favorites list.
  3. Use Up Arrow or Down Arrow to select the Favorite to rename.
  4. Press Select. Nearby responds by displaying the Context menu.
  5. Select Rename from the context menu. Nearby displays a dialog box with the current name.
  6. Edit the current name or type a new one.
  7. Press the OK button.

To delete a Favorite, follow these steps:

  1. Press Menu to open the Nearby Explorer Online program menu.
  2. Select Favorites from the menu.
  3. Use Up Arrow or Down Arrow to highlight the Favorite you wish to delete.
  4. Press Select to open the options menu for Favorites.
  5. Select Delete from the options menu.

Adjust Favorites

To fine tune the placement of a favorite to the current position, follow these steps:


To share your Favorites, follow these steps:

  1. Ensure that you have a network connection.
  2. Select Favorites from the Nearby Explorer Online main menu.
  3. Highlight the Favorite to share. Make sure you have named the Favorite so it is meaningful to others.
  4. Press Select to open the options menu.
  5. Select Publish. Nearby Explorer Online displays a list of categories.
  6. Select the category that most accurately describes the Favorite.
  7. Press Select.


Nearby Explorer Online uses transit feeds for several transit systems to provide information about public transit.

To use the Transit feature in a supported metropolitan area, press Transit from the program's menu. If you are in a metropolitan area with more than one transit system, Nearby displays a menu of the systems available.

If you will always use the same transit system, and you do not want to see the menu each time, (1) highlight the one you prefer, (2) press and hold Select, and (3) choose Set as Default from the context menu that appears. To remove the default, choose Clear Default Transit System from the menu on the initial Transit screen.

Once you choose a transit system, Nearby Explorer Online's Transit Stop screen displays a list of all the transit stops within 350 yards of your current position, with the closest stop listed first.

The Transit Stop screen displaying a list of bus stops for a particular street

Figure 5. The Transit Stop screen

To broaden the search radius, press Right Arrow, or use the Increase Radius option at the bottom of the list.

Each list item contains the following information:

To see a list of all the modes of transport that service a particular stop, select one of the stops. Nearby displays a screen with all the vehicles that service that stop.

The Modes of Transportation are represented by a list of circuits starting with the next circuit. Each line item contains the following information:

The Modes of Transportation screen displaying the bus routes that stop at a particular intersection

Figure 6 The Modes of Transportation screen

To follow a route, select a stop. Nearby responds by showing all the stops on that route.


To see a complete schedule for the selected transportation mode, select a stop. Nearby responds with a menu containing Go To and Schedule. Select Schedule from the menu. The app displays a list of all the times the selected bus or train stops at that location, highlighting the next scheduled stop.

Screen shot of a schedule for a selected bus

Figure 7. The Schedule screen

To move to earlier times, press Up Arrow.

To move to later times, press Down Arrow.

To see a different day, press Right Arrow for the next day or Left Arrow for the previous day or choose the day from one of the buttons at the bottom of the screen.

To identify buses/trains at other stops, press Back to get to the Nearby Stops screen and select another stop.

Nearby Explorer Online assists you with finding businesses, institutions, addresses, and places that relate to a specific topic.

Once you find a business, you can do one of several things, depending upon the information available for that location. These things include receiving adding it to your Favorites, traveling to it virtually on the map, or even visiting the business's webpage.

The search results are enhanced with the Google Places™ business listings service. This service provides more timely and accurate information about places than what may be provided with the onboard maps. It also provides search results based on a search radius that behaves in interesting and useful ways. Read more about the way the search radius effects Places in the Adjust Nearest Place Behavior section of this documentation.

Nearby Explorer Online can search within approximately a 30 mile radius of your actual or virtual position.

A list of POIs within 175 yards of current position on the Search screen

Figure 7. A list of POIs on the Search screen

The types of items that appear in this list depend on the search radius setting, your location, and any terms you have typed.

These POIs are arranged so the closest one appears at the top of the list. Each list item shows the name of the place, its category, and its distance and direction from your current or virtual position.

If you have a network connection, the list item also includes the POI's address as obtained from Google Places™ business listings.

To show places related to a term you type, follow these steps:

  1. Press the Up Arrow until you get to the Search edit box.
  2. Type a word that is in the name or address of the desired place.
  3. Press the Down Arrow to the Search Nearby Places button.
  4. Press Select. Nearby responds by displaying a list that is restricted to items matching the term you typed.

Nearby Explorer Online automatically increases the search radius to approximately 30 miles when you provide a specific term to find.

If you have a network connection, Nearby Explorer Online provides search results from the Google Places™ business listings service. The search results screen indicates the presence of a network connection by putting "Online" in the search results title. It also puts the default radius for the search in the title. You may increase and decrease the radius in the search results screen by pressing the right or left arrow keys.

Initially, the list shows all POIs in all categories; however, if you do not have a network connection you may restrict the list to more manageable subsets.

To select categories of search results when no network connection is present, follow these steps:

  1. From the Search results screen, press Menu.
  2. Choose Select Categories from the menu. Nearby displays a list of categories. Each item has a selectable checkbox, and they are all checked by default.
  3. To clear all categories, press the Clear All button.
  4. Check the categories of interest.
  5. Press Back to return to the search results. Nearby displays a new list using the parameters you selected.

When you highlight and select a POI, Nearby Explorer Online displays a menu of actions from which to choose. The menu includes Add to Favorites, Go To, Get Directions, Get Guidance, and other possible options depending on the information that is available for that POI.

Other Information

If you make or receive a phone call while Nearby Explorer Online is working, the program mutes the announcements until the phone call is complete.

Registered Trademarks

2012 Google Inc. All rights reserved. Google Places™ is a trademark of Google Inc.

2012 Google Inc. All rights reserved. Google Play™ is a trademark of Google Inc.

2012 Google Inc. All rights reserved. Google Transit™ is a trademark of Google Inc.

Terms and Conditions

Personal Use Only

You agree to use this Data together with the Nearby Explorer Online app for the solely personal, non-commercial purposes for which you were licensed, and not for service bureau, time-sharing or other similar purposes. Accordingly, but subject to the restrictions set forth in the following paragraphs, you may copy this Data only as necessary for your personal use to (i) view it, and (ii) save it, provided that you do not remove any copyright notices that appear and do not modify the Data in any way. You agree not to otherwise reproduce, copy, modify, decompile, disassemble, create any derivative works of, or reverse engineer any portion of this Data, and may not transfer or distribute it in any form, for any purpose, except to the extent permitted by mandatory laws.


Except where you have been specifically licensed to do so by the American Printing House for the Blind, Inc., and without limiting the preceding paragraph, you may not (a) use this Data with any products, systems, or applications installed or otherwise connected to or in communication with vehicles, capable of vehicle navigation, positioning, dispatch, real time route guidance, fleet management or similar applications; or (b) with or in communication with any positioning devices or any mobile or wireless-connected electronic or computer devices, including without limitation cellular phones, palmtop and handheld computers, pagers, and personal digital assistants or PDAs.

Google's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

By using the Nearby Explorer Online application, the user is bound by Google's Terms of Service.

A link to the APH Privacy Policy is available at Be advised that Nearby Explorer Online app uses Google Maps API(s). To learn more, go to the Google Privacy Policy webpage.


The Data may contain inaccurate or incomplete information due to the passage of time, changing circumstances, sources used and the nature of collecting comprehensive geographic data, any of which may lead to incorrect results.

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