I use several iPhone apps on a regular basis and there are services like AppleVis that do a good job of cataloging the accessibility of iPhone apps overall. That said in the past couple days I’ve started using a couple apps that I wanted to call out because of the potential they represent. VizWiz and Ariadne GPS both show promise at answering questions about what’s around you.
The basic premise behind VizWiz is straight forward. Take a picture of something you want identified and use the power of technology and social networking to identify the item. The app uses a combination of services and contacts from your social network to return answers. In my use of the app so far, it has proven helpful at answering basic questions with answers returned from IQ Engines and web workers. Note that IQ Engines is what powers a handy iPhone app called oMoby.
I’ve used this app for less than a day but it strikes me as being very innovative. Of particular interest to me is the ability to explore a map based on touch. My previous map experience was with a couple different apps from Sendero but those were based on keyboard navigation of maps.
If you try Ariadne GPS, you’ll want to take a read about all the Features and take note that settings for the app are accessed from the settings option for the iPhone in general and not within Ariadne. There are several items related to the map you can adjust that change how things behave. For example I’ve changed to an advance mode that requires more preciseness for touching objects but in my use makes building a mental model of the map a bit easier.
The GPS functionality of Ariadne GPS is also of value. Turning on a monitor mode, you can be alerted to addresses as you pass them. The app also has limited point of interest functionality. You can add points of interest based on current location and then be alerted when you are close to those points.
Ariadne is a bit rough around the edges but as I say shows promise. For example when you use a feature knows as Explore Region, you are prompted to enter a street and city. If multiple matches are found, you must select from a list that presents you the street name and distance from your current location. No city names are presented in this list which makes things a bit tough.
Also, after using this feature, the app gets a bit confused about your current location. I’m located in Redmond, Washington and used the Explore Option to view Madison, Wisconsin. Now the app tells me my current location is in Redmond, Dane. Note that Dane is the county where Madison is located.
I don’t know what the future for VizWiz and Ariadne GPS holds. I’m hopeful we have more development of both apps. Ariadne GPS in particular has captivated my attention because accessible maps and GPS technology can do so much to help us understand our surroundings. If you enjoy technology, take one or both of these apps for a spin. VizWiz is free and Ariadne GPS a $2.99 purchase.