If you have an iPhone you should discover an app you already have, one that is filled with incredibly useful tools for you. The Compass app is from Apple, is free, and comes pre-loaded onto your iPhone.
Because you didn’t download the Compass app, or choose to have it on your phone, you may never have opened it, or been aware of its many handy features.
The Compass app is so much more than a compass. Yes, it does work as a compass, to tell you the direction you’re headed and which way is North.
The compass feature alone can be very handy if you’re hiking through the woods, wondering where the sun will set, or positioning a sundial.
But hidden within the Compass app are other tools that may prove even more useful, or at least interesting for you to discover.
Setting Up the Compass App
If you’ve never used the Compass app, you may need to take a moment to calibrate it. While calibration may sound complex, it’s as easy as rolling a ball around the compass. Think of it as a game.
Instructions within the app will guide you through this process.
After the compass has been calibrated you can begin to use all of the app’s nifty features.
Ever wonder how high or low you are? The Compass app contains an altimeter to show you your elevation.
Right now, do you know how high above sea level you are? Most people don’t, though some have an uncanny ability to guess correctly.
You can find out your altitude, and settle any altitudinal disagreements, by simply opening the Compass app.
At the bottom of the app look to see your altitude, above or below sea level.
That’s right, just by looking at the bottom of your compass screen you can discover how high or low, above or below sea level, you are right now.
Setting Up the Altimeter
If you do not see your altitude in the Compass app, you may not be connected to Wi-Fi and may not have allowed the app to have access to your Cellular data.
If you want to use altimeter in the Compass app without being connected to Wi-Fi, you can fix this easily.
Go to Settings => Cellular => Compass => On
Open the Compass app and the altimeter should appear.
Latitude and Longitude
Wondering where on Earth you are? Open the Compass app to find out!
Under the compass you will see your position on Earth, including the latitude and longitude. See how far you are from the Equator and from Greenwich, England.
Ever wonder how balanced you are? I’m not talking psychologically, I’m talking physically.
The Compass app has a level hidden on page two of the app. Didn’t know the app had a page two? That’s because it’s hidden!
To find the level, open the Compass app and swipe left. You will see a black screen with numbers showing the angle of the tilt.
The app can measure both horizontal and vertical levels. Horizontal level is measured by circles that overlap when the phone is level. Vertical level is measured by a bar at the top of the screen.
Place the phone on a surface. If the phone is on a level surface, you will see 0° and a green screen.
If the surface isn’t level, you will see the degree by which the surface tilts.
Note that while the level is handy, it probably shouldn’t be relied upon for critical measurements, such as constructing a building.
Knowing all of these features, you may forget that you can use the app as a compass. But it’s handy for that too.
If you want to set your path, turn your phone to the direction you want to go. For example, if you want to head due North, set your direction at 0°.
Tap the compass twice to lock in on that heading. When you veer off of that heading, you will see a red band showing how far off course you are.
True North vs. Magnetic North
The Compass app gives you the choice of True North vs. Magnetic North. Magnetic North is the default setting.
To change the compass orientation to True North, go to
Settings => Compass => Use True North => On.
Did you know about the handy, helpful and hidden tools within the Compass app? Did you know your elevation before you checked it in the Compass app? What is your current elevation?
Share your thoughts and elevation in the Comments section below!
*Mountain Lake image courtesy of Alexandro Lacadena via Flickr and Creative Commons
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