Indoor Explorer
An Experimental Feature of Nearby Explorer iOS

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Nearby Explorer™ is a full-featured GPS app for iOS® and Android™ devices that empowers you to independently explore with confidence – and the iOS versions now feature Indoor Explorer! The experimental Indoor Explorer feature is now included with both the paid, full Nearby Explorer iOS app and the free, lite Nearby Explorer Online iOS app. Note: the free app requires a network connection.

Nearby Explorer™ is a powerful location exploration app that uses onboard maps; it includes complete maps for the United States and Canada covering millions of points of interest (POIs). Nearby Explorer uses GPS and your phone’s compass to speak real-time information about your surroundings. It also displays maps on the screen that provide audio feedback with touch.

Indoor Explorer: Indoor Navigation Made Easier!

Indoor Explorer is a new feature of the Nearby Explorer iOS app, now available in an experimental version. In the future, the Android™ version of Nearby Explorer will include Indoor Explorer. Indoor Explorer helps you navigate within supported venues that have been mapped and equipped with beacons. This exciting new feature has similar functions to the outdoor Nearby Explorer — it allows you to independently learn about the location of entrances, rooms, elevators, restrooms, and more and then navigate to those locations.

For a general overview of indoor navigation, read this article written by APH’s Larry Skutchan, Director, Technology Product Research.

Indoor Explorer makes use of beacons and indoor information stored in the OpenStreetMap® database. The app looks up the beacon’s latitude, longitude, and floor number. It also looks up points of interest on that floor of the building and reports their name, distance, and position as you move, or it lets you use the GeoBeam or Compass feature to point your device to locations inside the building. When using the app indoors, the compass, in addition to reporting the direction, names all the building features in that direction.

Indoor Explorer allows detailed navigation within buildings that have been mapped and equipped with beacons.

Beacons for Indoor Location

photo of a yellow beacon

Indoor Explorer takes advantage of small beacons that periodically transmit brief bursts of data. The app can correlate each beacon’s identification with information about its precise location. Indoor Explorer uses this information along with the signal strength of the beacon and other beacons that may be in the vicinity to help determine your location. Once the app has a location, it can access points of interest (POIs) just as it does with the outdoor features.

Indoor Explorer Is Here, Free to Purchasers of Nearby Explorer!

APH has released a free update to Nearby Explorer for iOS that includes an experimental version of Indoor Explorer. The number of buildings that have currently been mapped and equipped with beacons is small, but growing. We are interested in feedback from users about this exciting new technology!

WARNING: When walking, Nearby Explorer/Indoor Explorer should be used along with a sighted guide, dog guide, or cane because it does not provide sufficient information to act as a substitute for your preferred O&M method.

Example Indoor Explorer Beacon Installation

Floor plan of an example installation of beacons for use with Nearby Explorer's Indoor Explorer feature. Page text includes a detailed description.

Floor Plan, Crescent Hill Branch Library, Louisville Free Public Library

Detailed image description for screen reader users

Floor plan of an example installation of beacons for use with Nearby Explorer’s Indoor Explorer feature. Floor plan is the lower level of the Louisville Free Public Library Crescent Hill Branch Library. Beacons are located in these areas: Nonfiction Room, Audiobooks Reading Room, Computer and Reading Room, Meeting Room, Restrooms, and Elevator. A figure of a person moves through the library with a smartphone that is using Nearby Explorer. A wave graphic from a drawing of a beacon indicates that the beacons and smartphone communicate with each other. At a first location, the Nearby Explorer voice says: “Audiobook Reading Room Lower Level, 20 Feet North.” At a second location, the voice says: “Audiobooks Reading Room Lower Level, 5 Feet East.” An additional graphic to the lower right of the floor plan shows a silhouetted figure holding up a smartphone. There is an enlarged image of a yellow beacon emitting waves, indicating communication with the smartphone.


IOS is a trademark or registered trademark of Cisco in the U.S. and other countries and is used under license. Apple and the Apple logo are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. App Store is a service mark of Apple Inc. Android, Google Places, Google Play, and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.; OpenStreetMap is a trademark of the OpenStreetMap Foundation, and is used with their permission. Nearby and Indoor Explorer are not endorsed by or affiliated with the OpenStreetMap Foundation.

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