Using the iPhone compass app

iPhone compass
iPhone compass

If you’re heading off into the wilderness, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the apps on your phone, particularly those which can help you in cases of imminent danger, such as getting lost!



Think of this, while you are on your hike, the weather turns inclement and cloud covers the sky, you find yourself in a place where you’re struggling to determine your direction. You may be above the treeline, in which case you won’t be able to see which is the mossy side of the tree trunks.

The sun will be behind the clouds, or the stars are hidden from sight. You were previously certain that you were heading in the right direction, but in overcast weather, you may begin to panic a bit.


Carrying on blindly could be dangerous, and you could unwittingly walk into difficult territory, or worse, find yourself at the edge of cliffs.


Fear not! Assuming you were wise enough to be following the map you brought, you will be able to use a compass. And there is a compass app on your I-phone.

For the compass application, follow these basic instructions

To begin, click on the utilities icon on your phone. Choose the compass app. Hold the phone flat in the palm of your hand. Hold your arm out directly in front of you. Tilt your hand slightly towards yourself so that you can read it.


Photo Credit
Photo Credit

Turn your whole body around until the display at the top reads North. See the red arrow in North, and you will be facing due North. Know then that South will be directly behind you, West to your left and East to your right.


Photo Credit
Photo Credit

If you have an idea of the direction you have been traveling in then you could retrace your steps to return to the place you started from, or another place of safety.

Other really great features on this phone will give you the tools to pinpoint your exact co-ordinates. As you have your phone and you hopefully have connectivity you will be able to report this exact position back to base.



You will also be able to connect this to the maps application. Your position will show as a blue “you are here” dot with a cone of light extending from this showing the direction you are facing. The I icon in the bottom right corner of the screen will let you choose true north or magnetic north as the direction. You need to be aware of the difference before you leave on your hike.



These are instructions for a basic level of understanding on how to use your iPhone compass.  It’s a great little tool that can be very useful.  You can even use your iPhone as a level.  Before you can use the compass you might need to calibrate it, this is an easy process where you follow the on screen prompts which tell you to tilt the phone so that the ball on the screen moves around in a circle, it’s all very straight forward and quick.


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fmssolution is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival