Sendero announced today that the Seeing Eye GPS app has been submitted to the app store and is now available. The app can be downloaded for free, but you must have a subscription in order to use it. A one year subscription will cost you $69.95 and for three years the cost is $129.95.
According to the description of the app, some of the features that make this app particularly useful for blind users include:
Route, POI's, and Location are available at any time
At intersections the cross street and it's orientation are announced
Intersections are described such as four way or two way
Routes are available for both vehicle and pedestrian mode
To hear what is around you, point your phone in a direction and the LookAround Wand tells you nearby POI's
POI's and intersections are automatically announced as you get close to them.
I’m sure the subscription cost has already turned off a lot of people. Please note, as per the info above, there is no monthly subscription, so even if you want to test it, you have to dish out the $70. Also please note that iTunes does not give refunds. Believe me, I have tried. There is a mechanism in place to request one, but they are very sparing with their refunds. Some have also expressed an issue with the fact that none of those $70 go to Seeing Eye, who helped with development of this app. And last and most importantly, this app is not a finished product. There are far too many issues to take this app seriously. If you haven’t already, try using BlindSquare. BlindSquare does almost everything the current Sendero Seeing Eye app does, and does it better. For example, in a vehicle, BlindSquare names all streets accurately, as long as you have a good GPS signal; on the other hand, Sendero will only name the main streets, and it will occasionally miss streets or name the street way too late. BlindSquare uses Acapella, so you can lock your iPhone screen while it’s in your pocket; this also allows BlindSquare to have the TTS engine open the Bluetooth channel to your headset before telling you the GPS info. On the other hand, Sendero uses Voiceover, so when it sends GPS info, it can’t open the channel first, which means you miss the first half of the street name, or many times, the entire street or business name. BlindSquare makes it extremely easy to select which info you want it to tell you and has a few more categories than Sendero, whereas Sendero seems to name businesses almost at random, and you can’t filter what you want it to tell you. I can keep going on, but for brevity’s sake, I’ll end it here and urge all of you to stay away. To put it as succinctly as possible: this app sucks.
cat_lover Monday, 08-Jul-2013 2:59 PM ET:
Wile I agree that the $69 price tag may be a bit steep for some people, there are a few things to keep in mind. 1. Other Sendero GPS products cost hundreds of dollars more, and still require a yearly subscription if you want to keep your maps updated. 2. Mainstream GPS apps also come with a fairly substantial price tag. 3. One of my biggest objections to the app is the fact that there is no trial. However, this is, from what I've read, not the fault of Sendero. I typically would avoid making a purchase of this kind without trying it first as well since money is a bit short around here, but it was given to me as a gift. This gave me the opportunity to sit down and work with it. I've found the app to be very good, especially considering that it's been out only for a week. My final comments are these. Nobody is making anyone buy the app. If you don't want to pay, or are unable to pay the price, fine. But, if you haven't tried it, don't put it down until you have. And, if you happen to find another app you like better, great. Use it and enjoy it. But, we live in a world were one size does not fit all, and everyone as a choice. Nobody should be condemned for their choice if it's not something that you don't agree with. Having said this, my choice is Sendero.
Sam Tuesday, 09-Jul-2013 8:52 PM ET:
Cat_lover, I know you meant your comment in a general sense and not specifically directed at me, but I wanted to address a couple of your arguments, for the sake of an alternative point of view. First off, I have tried the Sendero app for a few days, so when I put it down, I put it down from the viewpoint of someone who has used many GPS and blindness specific applications and products. I stand by my statement that this app is absolute garbage. Now, that isn’t to say it will always be garbage, and one of the ways it can be raised from its current poor state is by being critical of its flaws, of which there are many. I, personally, will never put down anyone who has made a choice, whether I agree with it or not. However, for those who haven’t made a choice, I won’t sit by and hold my opinion. I will make clear, concise points as to why I have an opinion, and if a person a grees, great, I’m glad I could help someone from making what I believe to be a poor choice. If I failed to sway a person, then go right on ahead. I frequently will do something people urge me not to just so I can try it, myself, and form my own opinion. Note, though, that forming my own opinion means I’m going to get burned every now and again, and with the price of this app, I don’t think this burn I got was worth it. I will shout on the mountain tops to discourage someone from making my irreversible mistake. As to your points, I can subscribe to GPS Drive, which is a fantastic app, for $10 a year. Combine it with BlindSquare, a onetime $15 app, and you have all the functionality of the Sendero App, with more precise information, a better UI, and much, much less of a cost. Heck, if you want to go all out, get a Nexus Droid phone and put the APH app on it, which does have a onetime cost of $100, downloads the maps to your phone, gives you free map updates, and is designed specifically for blind people. The business model for an app has to be different than their other products. They have greater scope to sell an app, for one, which is likely why it’s so much cheaper than their other apps. However, just because it’s cheaper doesn’t mean it should be commensurately less functional. So, what I am encouraging my fellow blind brethren to do is to make an educated decision. Go on to the BlindSquare site, the Sendero site, the APH site. Read about these apps. Listen to podcasts where people review other commercial apps like GPS Drive. Fill your mind before making this purchase. I firmly believe that if you do, you won’t pick Sendero.
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For the past three years Alena has been a feature writer for the online magazine Matilda Ziegler. She has also been a contractor for the Oregon Commission for the Blind, helping blind adults learn to use adaptive technology. She is studying to be a teacher of the visually impaired at Portland State. You might also recognize her from the Serotalk podcast Triple Click Home.