Blind Bargains

Ask the Readers: What Would You Pay for a Truly Accessible Phone-based GPS System


Sendero just announced plans to bring a full-featured GPS package to the iPhone. Instead of creating software which mainly runs on a specialized device, users of a mainstream phone and operating system will potentially gain the opportunity to use many of the same GPS features found on Sendero's other products. So we ask you, what would you pay for a full-featured GPS system for your phone, whether it be iOS or Android-based? Or, would you not purchase an accessible GPS system at all. What features absolutely must be included in the GPS system you choose to adopt? To help put this discussion in context, let us know if you've ever used or purchased an accessible GPS system before and which one it was. Sound off in the comments.

Category: Resources
Displaying 19 comments.
janbrown Tuesday, 21-Feb-2012 7:25 PM ET:

I used to have a Humanware P.K. with a sendero gps system on it. I worked in San Francisco at the time and used it to let me know when I was at my stop because often, the street car drivers did not call out the stops. I feel people expect an ap for an I-phone to cost less then twenty dollars. I would pay more for a good accessible gps system with pedestrian information in it. Jan


David Tuesday, 21-Feb-2012 8:40 PM ET:

I have never had a truly accessible GPS solution before. It would definitely be imperative for the system to announce when I was a certain distance from a POI or intersection, and it would also be important to have a virtual mode such as what is present in the BN and Sense devices. I think $100 would be my top limit, unless I fell in love with the software, `and felt I couldn't do without it. A demonstration version of some kind is a must.


Mello Wednesday, 22-Feb-2012 12:57 AM ET:

I would pay $30 - $50 only.


nimer Wednesday, 22-Feb-2012 05:34 AM ET:

I have used Sendero on a BN as well as both the Trekker pro and Trekker Breeze. On Android we have many of the features of those apps (although not all). I would pay $50, $100 or maybe even $150 which would be stretching things for a dedicated app that gave turn by turn directions, allowed me to get access to information such as speed upon request, announced upcoming intersections as I was approaching them as well as upcoming POI's, that had a free mode that allows me to input in my own POI's, and that had a virtual explore mode kind of like Intersection Explorer. But because they're working on an iPhone app now, I don't expect to see anything from them for a long time to come. I kind of wish Levelstar would release the source code to that stupid Orion instead of charging some crazy price for the thing and put out the various apps on the market. That would do more good seeing as they have a GPS app, they apparently have braille support, etc etc. Instead though they'll try to push out one hardware device and I don't see too many people, if any going out to purchase it. Anyway, I'll save that for another thread.


rmoeuy87 Wednesday, 22-Feb-2012 06:57 AM ET:

I have used mobile geo and fell in love with it. Although I have only used the demo, I had 30 days to learn about all it's useful features. I love the ability to know exactly where I am at at any time when walking by POIs. In addition to all the functionalities one may expect for an accessible GPS, the ability to create a virtual marker anywhere on the map and give it a name is a feature I would love to have. This is a feature that was available in mobile geo and I've used this feature quite often. I am excited about Sendero's decision to bring an accessible GPS app to the iPhone. However, as an android user, I am disapointed in the fact that Android is either a secondary or not an option. What we know so far, there probobally won't be one for Android. I loved Mobile Geo but it was way too costly, in addition to only supporting an obselete operating system. If Sendero is willing to make it available for both the iPhone and Android operating systems, I am willing to pay up to 200 to 300 dollars if it is at least close to a truely fully featured accessible GPS.


mehgcap Wednesday, 22-Feb-2012 10:50 AM ET:


Lisa L Wednesday, 22-Feb-2012 10:50 AM ET:

I agree with the thoughtful comments above, especially about some of the unique features of mobile geo. I'd be willing to pay between $100 and $200, depending on how feature rich the app was, and if the higher price point meant that it would continue to be supported. Having an option to add tags or notes would be very helpful.


mehgcap Wednesday, 22-Feb-2012 10:50 AM ET:

I have used Sendero gps on a BrailleNote mPower, though not for some time. Here are the features I consider essential: 1. a dashboard: speed, heading, altitude, nearby address/POI/intersection, current street, route information (if a route is active), and other basic, quick-look information. 2. Routes: ability to select an address, POI, or lat/lon and plan a walking, vehicle, or biking route to it. Also, there needs to be a way to save routes for later use and to create a route from a path the user takes (like the more recent Sendero gps programs can do). 3. POI management: the ability to search nearby POIs, as well as filter a search by a search string and/or categories. You should be able to save a POI as a favorite, plus create a route right from a POI list. Finally, you should be able to add a position or address as a custom POI. 4. Map exploration: there should be a way to feel maps, like the Ariadne app (sorry if I spelled that wrong). The ability to search for POIs or streets around your virtual position, and optionally focus on the result, would also be good, but not essential. 5. Backgroudn operation: the app should provide turn-by-turn instructions when a route is open, even if you are in a different part of the app or in a different app entirely. Basically, as long as the app is in memory, it should be giving directions, street announcements, and anything else you have set to automatically be spoken aloud. As much of this as possible should be done through VO so that those using braille are not left out. 6. Full announcement control: you need to be able to configure exactly what is spoken and what is not. I suppose users might also want to turn off auto-announcement when the app is not active. Announcements should include, at least, turns in a route, destination arrival, POI announcements, cross streets, and warnings (off-route, passed destination, and so on). 7. Directional sounds: I'm not sure exactly how this would work yet, but here is an example. If you enable this option, your destination will virtually beep when you are close. Since the iPhone can give direction to the app even without movement via the compass, the app could position the beeps in the stereo field relative to the user. That way, the user needs only to turn until the sound is centered to know they are facing the destination. This has a lot of potential, including audio representations of the map, cross streets, and so on, all placed in the stereo field to tell the user exactly where they (the objects) are in relation to the user's position and heading. (To give credit where credit is due, I heard this idea on an SPN podcast about the new Aftershokz headphones.) For all this, I think $100 is absolutely the maximum, and the app would have to be fast, simple, and very solid for me to part with so much money for an iPhone app. In addition, I want to second what another poster said: a free trial or light version is essential; for $100, I want to know exactly what I'm getting and whether or not it will be useful. A subscription plan is also a good idea (I can't remember where I heard this, but I heard that AT&T does this with their gps app). In this way, you could buy the app outright for a price, or pay for it every month. Monthly payments would never buy the app completely, but it might be cheaper for thos who would rarely use it. Pay $10 in June, for instance, if you are going on a trip and will need gps, but that might be the only time in a year you need the functionality. As mentioned, an option to buy the app outright would also be provided for those who use it all the time; if it costs $100, or $10 per month, then using it every month for a year costs more in subscription than it does to just buy the app.


mf723 Wednesday, 22-Feb-2012 10:59 AM ET:

$100 would be pushing the limit for me. I feel it's important that this app be priced in the same range as GPS solutions for the sighted. With devices like the iPhone I think the days of paying more for assistive technology are over. I'd be disappointed if I had to pay more than $70.


rmoeuy87 Wednesday, 22-Feb-2012 1:02 PM ET:

I have used mobile geo and fell in love with it. Although I have only used the demo, I had 30 days to learn about all it's useful features. I love the ability to know exactly where I am at at any time when walking by POIs. In addition to all the functionalities one may expect for an accessible GPS, the ability to create a virtual marker anywhere on the map and give it a name is a feature I would love to have. This is a feature that was available in mobile geo and I've used this feature quite often. I am excited about Sendero's decision to bring an accessible GPS app to the iPhone. However, as an android user, I am disapointed in the fact that Android is either a secondary or not an option. What we know so far, there probobally won't be one for Android. I loved Mobile Geo but it was way too costly, in addition to only supporting an obselete operating system. If Sendero is willing to make it available for both the iPhone and Android operating systems, I am willing to pay up to 200 to 300 dollars if it is at least close to a truely fully featured accessible GPS.


snake Wednesday, 22-Feb-2012 7:18 PM ET:

I would pay up to $300 without a thought. This would be a fraction of the cost of Sendero with a note taker. I look forward to the app for the iPhone.


darknexus Wednesday, 22-Feb-2012 10:25 PM ET:

I've not purchased any of the specialized GPS systems, though I've demoed Mobile Geo and Sendero GPS for the Braillenote a few times. I mainly use mainstream GPS apps on Android or iOS, depending on which device I'm using. That said, I'd be willing to pay an equivalent price to what sighted people pay for their GPS systems (approximately $70 to $150 USD) if it had the following Sendero features: quick information such as speed/heading/reception, announcement of upcoming cross-streets, nearest POI announcement at a configurable interval, near-by POI search, gtfs integration, and virtual exploration. Routes are actually not important to me for the most part, as I have other ways to figure that out and other turn-by-turn GPS apps such as Navigon and Google Maps if I need it. I am curious however as to how Sendero is going to accomplish this, given their reliance on DeCarta Rich Map Engine which, as far as I've been able to determine, is only available for Windows-based devices in either NT or CE kernel versions. I would absolutely not be interested in it if a constant data connection is required. I have unlimited data, but I would be uncomfortable knowing that my GPS will give out if I'm in a dead spot. At least, with Navigon, I can be confident that the maps I select will always be available regardless of my connection status.


jim turri Thursday, 23-Feb-2012 08:35 AM ET:

I would be willing to pay up to $150 if the app has the same functionality as mobile geo. especially if the maps can reside on my ipod touch. I use an external bluetooth gps receiver with kapten and it works some what. havn't been too pleased with navigan. the ability to easily enter user pois is quite important, if voice tags can't be recorded, kapten has a system that can save several pois with a generic address name, ang go back and edit them properly when time permitts. knowing the distance and clock position to a poi is important, especially in snow. I will buy it emmidately when it comes out.


bluecansam Thursday, 23-Feb-2012 08:37 AM ET:

I'm a very new user to iPhone solutions like Motion X, and I've never used Sendero, sad to say. I'm in agreement with the people who say they'd pay at most $100 for the app, though. Once the accessible GPS is available in the iTunes market, more than just blind people will be buying it. I have little doubt sighted people would be willing to dish out for a truly quality walking GPS, if it was feature rich and more accurate than the current walking solutions. As it is, every blind person seems to have their opinions on which current iPhone/Droid GPS is the best, and to test them all, you already have to put out $50 or $60 per app just to test all 4 of them to decide which you like best. Currently, I'm content with sticking with Motion X. Their most recent update corrected a bunch of accessibility issues.


ron govin Tuesday, 28-Feb-2012 01:54 AM ET:

I have to say that folks have mentioned several fees up to $300. To my knowledge I've never heard of any gps app being sold at that price before. However, I haven't heard of any gps on the market for the I devices with all of the features of the Sendero system. But it really shouldn't be any more than what a sighted person pays for theres. We shouldn't pay more for something than what a sighted person does.


hope.paulos Tuesday, 28-Feb-2012 12:07 PM ET:

I have used the Sendero GPS on a Braille Note Mpower, as well as Mobile GEo on a windows smartphone. I believe the following features are essential: 1. Upcoming POi/intersection announcements 2. Ability to create manual routes to places you tag that may not be on the map (Campus buildings, for instance) 3. Ability to have a voice-tag option.. This will save time when creating user POIs. 4. Ability to call POI from within the application 5. Ability to have app run in the background and receive instructions while on phone. I'd be willing to pay $150 for the app. There was some talk about monthly subscriptions. While this is good for many people, the option should be given to pay monthly installments as well as pay the entire price at once. A payment plan should be considered rather than monthly subscriptions. If you pay $10 a month you're going to pay more in the long run for the app than you paid for your phone if you continue to pay the subscriptions for say, 3 years. Just my opinion. Hope


janbrown Tuesday, 28-Feb-2012 12:14 PM ET:

I agree I would be willing to pay somewhere between $200 and $300 for Sendero. Jan Brown


Nina Tuesday, 28-Feb-2012 12:53 PM ET:

Hi I have used Sendero on a braille note Pk. I loved it. I will not pay more then $100 we should pay like any sighted person would. Prices shouldn't be extreme for all blind products or software.


marrigo Wednesday, 29-Feb-2012 11:16 AM ET:

Hi everyone. Before I comment on what I would be willing to pay or the features I would want to see included, I wanted to mention a few other things. At least for the IOS devices, there will probably not be a demo version of the software, Apple does not permit demo versions in the app store. I totally disagree with this, but when it comes to Apple, its their way or no way at all, that's one reason among others why I prefer android as my mobile platform. Also, I hope Sendero develops an android version of this as well, there are blind users of both platforms, and it's frustrating that Android is always treated as an after thought or gets lower priority, both platforms should receive the same attention. I would want many of the features that have already been mentioned, to automatically be told the direction of travel, up coming streets, places I am close to, speed of travel, etc. In short, provide the information the current sendero products provide. I have used mobile geo in the past and thought it was a good product, though over priced. The program should provide turn by turn directions for both walking and driving, and addresses should be easy to enter. There should be no need to go through several screens to enter an address. In the google navigation app and on motion x GPS on the iphone, you enter the address and choose search, very simple. I never use the virtual explore features, though I know many people find that useful. As far as what I would pay, I agree, the days of charging high prices such as what mobile geo cost are over. On the other hand, the market is somewhat smaller for this kind of app. The most I would pay is $200


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J.J. Meddaugh is an experienced technology writer and computer enthusiast. He is a graduate of Western Michigan University with a major in telecommunications management and a minor in business. When not writing for Blind Bargains, he enjoys travel, playing the keyboard, and meeting new people.


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