Voice Navigation

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  • plotaroute admin   Tuesday 02 Mar 2021 11:27:04

    Voice navigation on plotaroute.comWe're very excited to announce another major new feature for our Premium members - Voice Navigation.

    Using our mobile app, you can now turn your smartphone into a recreational satnav and get spoken turn-by-turn directions for your walks, runs and bike rides. With advance notice of upcoming turns and off-route warnings, put your smartphone away and enjoy exploring new routes.

    Our simple to use interface makes navigating routes easy - select the route, tap the tracker button and off you go. You can choose from a range of voices in different dialects and decide how much notice you'd like as you approach each turn. There's also an optional dark mode available to help conserve battery life.

    We've released this as a BETA feature for now, so please be aware that there may still be some teething problems while we undertake more extensive testing.

    For more information, have a look at our How-To guide: How to Navigate Routes using the plotaroute App.

    For further details about Premium membership, please visit our Membership Options page.

  • Colin Hoppe   Saturday 06 Mar 2021 17:48:15

    Just noticed yet another new feature on Plotaroute.   As I've been using voice navigation for years it will be interesting to try it out, so I'll give it a go tomorrow.

    However, right now, sitting at the desk and pushing a few buttons, I've got some feedback already.

    a) I'm not a fan of computer voices.  I'd prefer a more human-sounding voice if possible

    b) I only heard it read one road name and it ended with "Cres".  I know this is only a beta version so perhaps one day it will read "Cres" as "Crescent" or "St" as "Street" etc.  Unfortunately it gets a little more complicated when considering road names starting with "St." such as "St. John's Road" ... 

    c) I've got an Android phone ... Huawei Honor 7C.  It might have slightly different menus and functions from other Android phones, but there is a screen where I can allow specific, selected apps to continue running when the screen is switched off.  If I don't select them, they terminate after a couple of minutes.  However, the Plotaroute app is simply not listed, so I can't select it to keep running.  This presumably is related to it's not being from the Play Store ... 

    So, having said  I'll give it a go tomorrow, I might not try if for long if it only works with the screen on.  Audio navigation is only be useful to me if it runs continuously for hours with the screen off. 

    I use it mostly for cycling but sometimes for walking.

  • plotaroute admin   Monday 08 Mar 2021 09:33:59

    Thanks for the feedback Colin.

    The voice navigation will read whatever is in the directions saved with the route. I don't think it would reliable for us to try to identify and convert abbreviations, particularly given that they are multi-lingual, so there probably isn't much we can do about that one.

    For the voices we use the text to speech capabilities of your device, so the quality of the voice will depend on the voices installed on your device.  I think voice quality tends to be more natural on iPhones than Android but I suspect they'll all improve over time.

    Regarding running in the background, this isn't currently supported by the technology we use for our app (Progressive Web App). This is an emerging technology so support for things like background processing is likely to be available in future Operating System updates.

     

  • Colin Hoppe   Monday 08 Mar 2021 10:54:52

    Yes, the new feature reads whatever is saved in the directions, but other navigation apps, such as Bike Tracker, read common abbreviations in full ie Cres = Crescent and Rd = Road

    In fact, it can also pronounce "St. John's Rd" correctly, but it is a more mature app.

    The voice on my Android phone with Bike Tracker is a human voice, not a computer voice and is very clear.  In fact, it couldn't be clearer.

    However, if the new Plotaroute feature requires the screen to be on, then it simply won't work for me.  If I'm out riding country lanes with turns just minutes or seconds away, the app must be running continuously, so it would need to work with the screen off. 

    This situation is fine for me as I'm quite happy continuing to use Bike Tracker for navigation, so I'll leave it to others to provide further feedback

  • plotaroute admin   Tuesday 09 Mar 2021 09:19:58

    Thanks for your feedback Colin. This is just the first release but we will be aiming to develop and improve the navigation capabilties over time, so we welcome any feedback that will help us idenitfy what's important to everyone. Some I'm sure we'll be able to do but for others we may need to wait for the technology we're using to evolve a bit. 

    From our own experiencees of it so far, we've loving the ease and convenience of getting voice navigation for any of our routes, without having to download and transfer files to another device or app.  We've mainly used it on walks so far - you can turn the navigation on and then just put the device in your pocket and get it out to check the map when you need to. One thing that we felt might be useful though was an option for progress updates e.g. letting you know when you've passed 1 mile, 2 miles, etc.. It might also give added reassurance when there hasn't been any spoken instructions for a while. We'd be interested in anyone's thoughts about that or any other ideas. 

  • Colin Hoppe   Tuesday 09 Mar 2021 10:40:42

    That's a fair point.  Walking across fields is completely different from riding lanes with lots of turns which are obvious on a map.  

    On rides, I've sometimes entered a "Direction" in Plotaroute which says something like "Continue ahead" when there is a longer road without any turns.  This gives me reassurance that I'm still on course, even though I know the guidance should tell me if I've drifted off course.

     

    Walking is a different thing altogether and adding in the reassurance automatically (or an option) could be useful.  Plotting a route through the Peak District, I'd be looking a the map and satellite view, picking out walls and stiles to write the Directions in Plotaroute telling myself which field corner etc to head for.  Trouble is, if the route is new to me, then the actual route taken will probably not match the plotted route for various reasons.

    I use something called Voice Notebook to tell it corrections from wherever I am.  But where am I ?   The footpaths are not always obvious.  In a road, it's simple.  In the middle of a field, how do I make a note to update the directions for next time ?  By the time I've got back home, the notes might not make any sense ...  Ideally, marking a spot on a map, so that I know exactly where I need to update the Directions would be handy.   I've not looked for a way to do this as I don't usually plot my own walking routes and when I have done it's mostly not been in the middle of nowhere.

     

     

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