Day 18, part 2: Going for a walk

OK, after I posted my earlier bit on editing, I had some time, and good enough weather, to go outside and play a bit with a few navigation apps. I had already tried Google Maps in combination with Yelp while in Toronto on day 6 of this experiment, so I didn’t bother repeating that.
Instead, I looked at what both DotWalker and Intersection Explorer had to offer me. Those were two apps that were recommended by members of the eyes-free list.
Let’s deal with Intersection Explorer first. It uses finger swipes to virtually walk along streets in various directions. One can drag the finger in a particular direction and is told if there is a next intersection in that direction, and how far that is. However, I found several problems with this app.
For one, it does not recognize all street names. I live in a small street that Google Maps has no problems finding, but for Intersection Explorer, this and other surrounding streets are just unnamed roads. Only the main lanes and mid-size streets in the vicinity are recognized.
Second problem is that it is not sensitive to the direction the phone is actually pointing. In Europe, many cities aren’t laid out in the same symmetrical, chessboard-like fashion as many cities in north America. At least in Germany, we are also not used to using directions such as “west” or “north” to give directions. So when I am standing on the pavement, I don’t necessarily know which direction I am facing, especially if the sun doesn’t shine. I turned around, but the display of Intersection Explorer remained unchanged. Even after I had it refresh its current location, it still basically gave me a static north-south oriented view of the vicinity that was not in relation to the direction I was actually facing. So while this is useful in some scenarios when exploring a vicinity offline, it is not useful when walking.
DotWalker is more what I would expect, but still not quite what I need. It is very point-oriented. The good thing: It has a compass that immediately tells me which direction I am facing or walking. So in theory, I could use this to find out my bearing, go back to Intersection Explorer, turn the phone in my hand approximately so that its view of the world reflects the direction I am facing, and then try to find out where I need to go to by exploring that way. So I’d then need to remember that east is not to the right, but maybe to the bottom left. This is certainly doable, but quite cumbersome.
Another thing that DotWalker, not even the Pro version which I briefly purchased for this experiment, does not do for me is simply accompanying me while I walk without aim. I may just want to leisurely walk around the block and maybe just explore the surroundings without actually going somewhere specific. While the compass tells me the direction, I found no way of actually just letting it tell me automatically that I am on a particular street, passing an address, approaching an intersection, and if I turned onto another street, tell me about that. It insists on wanting a specific point of interest that it wants to track. Not even the Look Around feature works without points of interest.
One way I often use BlindSquare GPS for is to simply walk in a particular direction and broaden my horizon by letting it tell me what street or intersection I am reaching. In fact, this is how I gradually broadened my knowledge of my new living surroundings bit by bit. Combined with the interface to FourSquare, I even now know a lot more shops that are there than I would have ever been able to find out otherwise. I have found no way to even remotely do that with DotWalker, and I also didn’t find any other app on Google Play that does something similar. There seems to be an app called APH Nearby Explorer, but that is not available to me, it seems to be US or north America specific. So I couldn’t try that as an alternative.
I’m sorry to say, but current Android offerings definitely don’t give me what I want in terms of navigation and leisure walking. All offerings I tried are very insistent on me having a specific aim to walk to. And this does definitely not cover my needs.

Accessibility is for everyone @MarcoInEnglish