I once heard a blind person say, “With my cane, my brain, and my trusty iPhone, I can go anywhere.” I agree with the statement completely, but it’s time to update that statement to the 2018 version:
Give me a set of AirPods to go with my iPhone, and I can go anywhere–and surreptitiously know a lot about my environment while doing so.
Yes, Apple’s AirPods have been everything it says on the tin for me and much more. I almost exclusively use them for travel now; I find they let in enough street noise at low volumes to hear my environment, and I can always take them out (because of the magic of accelerometers, the audio pauses) if I get really turned around or need to cross a busy street.
So listening to tunes on the bus or while walking around is all fine and dandy, but where the magic starts to happen is when you pair AirPods with a GPS app. The one that makes me feel most like a secret agent is Blindsquare, which is not a turn-by-turn navigation solution but will assist you greatly in finding exact locations and streets. I can walk around Denver, Boulder, san Francisco… (really anywhere there is a map) like a total boss. With BlindSquare running and my AirPods in (even just one AirPod) I automatically know my compass heading and the nearest streets or places, depending on the filter setting. Hop on a bus you’ve never taken before? Sit back and let blindSquare tell you intersections as you pass them. While tonight’s snowstorm was nowhere near the blizzard level it was on Friday evening, having AirPods under my hat ensured I stayed right on course. If you are going to be out and about in unknown locations for long, I strongly recommend carying an external battery pack–communicating with satellites takes juice!
So while most people would say their Applewatch makes them feel like they’re living in the future, while I can do cool James bond or Dick Tracy-ish things with Watch, my weapon of choice for navigating the world is definitely AirPods with the right GpS app.
Did I mention: I love living in the future!
Pro tip: In cold weather, make sure your phone doesn’t shut down of its own accord. That happened to me last week and not even a battery pack could resurrect it. How I got out of that one is a story for another day! (Yes, even technology does fail me and my cane and my brain got me out of that).