How to use the Compass app on your iPhone to stay on track and figure out your exact location

You can use the Compass app on your iPhone to find your current location and help you navigate.

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You can use the Compass app on your iPhone to find your current location and help you navigate.
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Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS via Getty Images

  • To use the compass on your iPhone, you simply need to launch the Compass app and calibrate it.
  • The Compass app comes pre-installed on every new iPhone, and can help you figure out your direction and elevation.
  • Though not always accurate, the iPhone’s Compass app can come in handy when you want to make sure you’re on the right path.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The Compass app comes built-in on every new iPhone, and it’s helpful when you want to make sure you’re going in the right direction.

Here’s how to launch the app, calibrate it, and use it to find your way.

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How to calibrate the Compass app on your iPhone

1. Launch the Compass app from your iPhone’s home screen. Or if you don’t have it installed – maybe you deleted it in the past – download it from the App Store.

2. If this is the first time you’re using the Compass app, you’ll have to set it up by calibrating the compass.

3. First, position your phone flat against your palm, with the screen facing upwards. Your iPhone has a built-in magnetic field sensor used by apps like Apple Maps, which you’ll be using to calibrate the compass.

4. Next, move the red ball around the edge of the circle by moving your iPhone.

Make sure to allow the Compass app to use your location as well.

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Make sure to allow the Compass app to use your location as well.
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Meira Gebel/Business Insider

Once the compass has been calibrated, the compass at 0 degrees will point to magnetic north – this differs from True North. If you want your iPhone’s compass to always point to True North, you can change it by going to Settings > Compass > “Use True North.”

How to use the Compass app on your iPhone

The Compass app on iPhone is especially helpful for when you’re trying to find directions, elevation, coordinates, and what direction north is in.

However, some critics have noted that the Compass app isn’t always accurate. According to Apple, even the slightest magnetic interference (even from devices like your AirPods) can “cause a deviation.”

But overall, the app is useful for figuring out if you’re staying on the right course on a hike, for example, or want to know which direction west is once you’ve exited an underground subway station.

To use the compass to stay on track, tap the compass dial to mark your current direction. Once you start moving, the red line will signify how far off course you’ve gone.

The red line signifies how far off track you've gone from your original location.

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The red line signifies how far off track you’ve gone from your original location.
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Meira Gebel/Business Insider

Once you’ve opened the Compass app and calibrated it, you’ll see a series of numbers near the bottom of the screen. The first set of numbers the degrees. There are 360 degrees on the compass, 0 being north, 90 being east, 180 being south, and 270 being west.

The second set of numbers are your coordinates – where you are pertaining to Earth’s latitude and longitude lines. You can use these coordinates to give the very specific location of where you are. And if you tap the coordinates, Apple Maps will open (if you have it installed) and show you where you are on a map.

The last two lines will tell you where you geographically are and at what elevation.

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