/ which compass app?

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Newbuild100 - on 13 Nov 2013
Im new to these ere modern mobile fone thingys,but can anyone tell me what app to download that has a decent usuable compass on it plse.(one that could be used perhaps to replace a proper compass should the need arise, ie, used to navigate in thick cloud)

Cheers all
drolex - on 13 Nov 2013
In reply to Newbuild100: Short answer: none.

Either your smartphone has the right sensor (magnetometer) and in this case it should have an integrated compass app. If it doesn't have such an app, any will do.

The problem is when you don't have a magnetometer, compass apps usually try to use other phone sensors (mainly GPS) but these use various tricks to guess your orientation e.g. using movement. Unfortunately you can't really trust them then (basically it works as long as you walk at a constant speed in a constant direction)
Dave Perry - on 13 Nov 2013
In reply to Newbuild100:

A smaller normal compass as a spare does me rather than relying on something with a battery and the limitations mentioned.
Katie86 - on 13 Nov 2013
In reply to Newbuild100:

Nothing can replace a normal compass. Just get a spare compass.
Only a hill - on 13 Nov 2013
In reply to Newbuild100:

In my opinion the old "smartphones are unsuitable for use in the hills" view is unimaginative, ignorant, and narrow - minded. It's perfectly possible to navigate with a smartphone if you apply some common sense: use a waterproof and shockproof case, carry a backup power source, and obviously a real map and compass along with the necessary skills. There really is no good reason not to use a smartphone as your primary navigation system if you can back it up with traditional navigation skills.

Yes relying on smartphones for navigation can get you into trouble of you're an idiot, but it's perfectly possible to get yourself into just as much trouble if you don't know how to use traditional map and compass as well.

I use the GPS Status app which has an excellent digital compass.
Orgsm on 13 Nov 2013
In reply to Newbuild100:

I use the Silva App, the latest version is 4.
martinph78 on 14 Nov 2013
In reply to Only a hill: If you have a map, compass, and the skills to use them, why wold you choose to use a compass app on a smart phone instead?

I don't understand this logic, maybe I never will.

Dave Perry - on 14 Nov 2013
In reply to Only a hill:

In which case you may as well use the map and compass and you';ll not need any 'spare' ;-)
Dan_S - on 14 Nov 2013
In reply to Only a hill:
> (In reply to Newbuild100)
>
> In my opinion the old "smartphones are unsuitable for use in the hills" view is unimaginative, ignorant, and narrow - minded. It's perfectly possible to navigate with a smartphone if you apply some common sense: use a waterproof and shockproof case, carry a backup power source, and obviously a real map and compass along with the necessary skills. There really is no good reason not to use a smartphone as your primary navigation system if you can back it up with traditional navigation skills.
>
> Yes relying on smartphones for navigation can get you into trouble of you're an idiot, but it's perfectly possible to get yourself into just as much trouble if you don't know how to use traditional map and compass as well.
>
> I use the GPS Status app which has an excellent digital compass.

I've found in the past that the digital compass in smart phones is out, and generally by a sufficient margin to make me think twice about using them.

Using the highly unscientific test just now, of sticking the compass on the desk in front of me, a satmap with its compass (internally calibrated) showing, and my smartphone (an Xperia SP)

We have:
The compass and Satmap http://imgur.com/nLEc7RC
My smartphone http://imgur.com/pNSNINC

3 differing ideas of where magnetic north is....
Dan_S - on 14 Nov 2013
In reply to Martin1978:
> (In reply to Only a hill) If you have a map, compass, and the skills to use them, why wold you choose to use a compass app on a smart phone instead?
>
> I don't understand this logic, maybe I never will.

It's so you can look cool and drain the power from your device, so when you need to call the emergency services after a faeces/fan interface, you'll have no batter power, leave a garbled, panicked message mostly consisting of "I've got no battery" before the phone cuts out, and cause MR no end of hassle.... I think :o)
Only a hill - on 14 Nov 2013
In reply to Newbuild100:
The iPhone has a notoriously inaccurate internal compass, but most Android handsets are better.

FWIW I generally use the GPS-based Viewranger app, which (when used correctly) is just as accurate as traditional methods. It takes a lot of the faff out of navigating and you'd have to be a moron to run out of battery power while using it.

In response to those who asked why I would do this when I have a map and compass in my bag, the main answer is convenience. It's nothing to do with 'looking cool' ... honestly, smartphones are now so ubiquitous that 'coolness' or lack thereof doesn't come into it.

Smartphones are useful tools, nothing more, and like any tool can be abused or used dangerously.
tom_in_edinburgh - on 14 Nov 2013
In reply to Dan_S:
> (In reply to Only a hill)
> [...]
> We have:
> The compass and Satmap http://imgur.com/nLEc7RC
> My smartphone http://imgur.com/pNSNINC
>
> 3 differing ideas of where magnetic north is....

I wouldn't trust the 'real' compass when there is a phone anywhere near it and possibly not when there is a GPS close by. The phone will have speakers with fairly strong magnets in them but it's internal compass should be calibrated to compensate whereas a real compass next to the phone won't.

johnhowell - on 14 Nov 2013
In reply to Only a hill:
"The iPhone has a notoriously inaccurate internal compass, but most Android handsets are better".

Really? I am a geologist and part of my job involves measuring the dip and dip direction on rock bedding planes. We used to use compasses but the iphone has an excellent app which allows me to place the phone on the plane and click a button. It records all the dip and azimuth data along with GPS position etc. Very handy.
Point is we did quite a lot of bench marking of the readings against data collected manually with a compass (its important we get it right) and found the results to be very good.
Do you have an info on the iphone being "notoriously inaccurate"?
John
Only a hill - on 14 Nov 2013
In reply to johnhowell:
A few sources to start you off:

http://gizmodo.com/the-iphone-5s-motion-sensors-are-totally-screwed-up-1440286727
http://www.macworld.com/article/2055380/six-iphones-tested-and-they-cant-agree-on-true-north.html#tk...
http://www.tuaw.com/2013/10/18/get-lost-iphone-compass-app-struggles-in-tests/
http://9to5mac.com/2013/10/03/iphone-5s-sensors-providing-inaccurate-readings-for-some/
http://www.extremetech.com/electronics/167985-the-iphone-5s-sensors-are-dangerously-faulty-how-did-a...

Most of the issues are with the 5c and 5s but if you read some of the articles above you'll see it's only the tip of the iceberg and plenty of older models also have poor compass accuracy. It's a very well-known problem in the tech community. I would never trust an iPhone to give an accurate compass reading.
Dan_S - on 14 Nov 2013
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

I made sure the compass was not affected by the GPS (and vice versa) or my phone before taking the pictures, so the differences are "real" and not due to external differences in magnetic environment.
Dave Perry - on 14 Nov 2013
In reply to Newbuild100:

After reading this lot I'll stick to my silva compasses and just use my phone to ask Mrs P to put the dinner on!!! ;-)
martinph78 on 14 Nov 2013
In reply to Dan_S:
> (In reply to Martin1978)
> [...]
>
> It's so you can look cool and drain the power from your device, so when you need to call the emergency services after a faeces/fan interface, you'll have no batter power, leave a garbled, panicked message mostly consisting of "I've got no battery" before the phone cuts out, and cause MR no end of hassle.... I think :o)


Ah, I forgot the hills had become fashionable. My bad ;)

I think it's often a case of "technology for technologies sake".
Only a hill - on 15 Nov 2013
In reply to Martin1978:
> (In reply to Dan_S)
> [...]
>
>
> Ah, I forgot the hills had become fashionable. My bad ;)
>
> I think it's often a case of "technology for technologies sake".

While I agree that this can be true of some people, I find a smartphone genuinely useful in the outdoors and I sometimes think there's an element of luddism in the scornful dismissal of modern technology for navigation.

Viewranger takes a lot of the effort out of the whole process. I can set it to follow a pre-recorded route, and if desired it will direct me automatically as well as providing constant position and altitude readouts (which I have found to be very accurate, often down to the the metre). It's very convenient to be able to switch on a screen and see a zoomable OS map with a crosshair pinpointing my exact location, plus a trail showing where I have been. I carry a spare power supply so running out of battery is *never* a concern, even on multi-day backpacking trips.

The disadvantages of using smartphones in the hills can all be reduced or removed by the application of common sense. As for the question of "why bother?", I will be carrying my smartphone anyway (for a range of purposes that have nothing to do with navigation), so it's not as if I'm carrying extra stuff I wouldn't have anyway. It's simply about convenience.

Obviously this is a matter of personal preference, but I fail to see the need to slag off or belittle those who choose different navigational tools. Surely the hills are supposed to be about personal freedom?
johnhowell - on 15 Nov 2013
In reply to Only a hill:
Eeek! Thanks for that. I am using an old 4s and as I said we got pretty robust results when we tested it. I shall look into it some more.
Irk the Purist - on 15 Nov 2013
In reply to Only a hill:
I dont' care what anyone says, it's impossible to navigate on a screen that small.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Only a hill - on 15 Nov 2013
In reply to Eric the Red:
That's a matter of opinion and personal preference, not fact. If it was "impossible" then nobody would do it.
RomTheBear - on 15 Nov 2013
In reply to Only a hill:
> (In reply to Martin1978)
> [...]
>
> While I agree that this can be true of some people, I find a smartphone genuinely useful in the outdoors and I sometimes think there's an element of luddism in the scornful dismissal of modern technology for navigation.
>
> Viewranger takes a lot of the effort out of the whole process. I can set it to follow a pre-recorded route, and if desired it will direct me automatically as well as providing constant position and altitude readouts (which I have found to be very accurate, often down to the the metre). It's very convenient to be able to switch on a screen and see a zoomable OS map with a crosshair pinpointing my exact location, plus a trail showing where I have been. I carry a spare power supply so running out of battery is *never* a concern, even on multi-day backpacking trips.
>
> The disadvantages of using smartphones in the hills can all be reduced or removed by the application of common sense. As for the question of "why bother?", I will be carrying my smartphone anyway (for a range of purposes that have nothing to do with navigation), so it's not as if I'm carrying extra stuff I wouldn't have anyway. It's simply about convenience.
>
> Obviously this is a matter of personal preference, but I fail to see the need to slag off or belittle those who choose different navigational tools. Surely the hills are supposed to be about personal freedom?

Completely agree with that, smartphones are great, on small and easy hikes I tend to use it as the primary navigation tool, simply because it's easy to check your position without having to stop, also a smartphone fits better in a pocket than a map + waterproof cover.

However on winter hikes with zero vis situation I get better results micronavigating with maps and compass, taking accurate bearings and counting steps and so on, and double checking position on the GPS at key points or when in doubts.

Basically so far I find smartphones really good at knowing exactly where you are but not really good at telling you where to go with high precision, it seems to me that the electronic compasses are not that good.
martinph78 on 15 Nov 2013
In reply to Only a hill: I haven't slagged off or belittled anyone (and really don't care very much what you do on the hills).






TK52 - on 15 Nov 2013
In reply to Newbuild100:

In my humble opinion I would suggest not relying upon any form of digital navigation. By all means carry some sort of GPS system as a 'backup' (turned off in your bag). I carry 2 spare compasses with me and a spare laminated section of the map I am using in case I loose both map and compass. I have never seen mobile apps, ipads and other digital 'aids' recommended by any experienced mountaineering individuals/organizations. Please take the time to glance at these links:

http://www.grough.co.uk/magazine/2012/09/07/mountain-rescuer-gps-phones-only-any-use-for-urban-walks
http://www.lamrt.org.uk/mountain-safety-advice/tips/mobile-phones
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/8435019/Ramblers-who-rely-on-iPhones-to-navigate-increase-res...
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-north-west-wales-23655414

Hope this 'helps' with your decision.
alexgoodey on 15 Nov 2013
All the search and rescue teams use viewranger, but you need to buy map layers to get the best use out of it.

Map, compass and real skills will beat tech every day of the week however, skills which you still need even with the gps/ apps.
Irk the Purist - on 16 Nov 2013
In reply to Only a hill:
Sorry but it is impossible. How can you possibly plan a route between a and b, 10 miles apart on a 5" screen and then follow it at pace?

You can follow a pre-planned route, sure, but that isn't navigating. Maps give you so much more information that what's immediately surrounding your position.
Only a hill - on 16 Nov 2013
In reply to Eric the Red:
There's this little thing called "multi touch" that enables you to do things like zooming and panning. Viewranger supports multiple scales of OS maps. It really isn't rocket science.

While it's slightly more comfortable to plan an overall route on a map sheet, it's perfectly possible to do it on a 5" screen with no issues and in fact I have done it many times.

Therefore once again I suggest that your usage of the word "impossible" is wrong.
Dave Kerr - on 16 Nov 2013
In reply to Newbuild100:
> to replace a proper compass should the need arise, ie, used to navigate in thick cloud)
>

Troll surely?
tom_in_edinburgh - on 16 Nov 2013
In reply to Eric the Red:
> (In reply to Only a hill)
> Sorry but it is impossible. How can you possibly plan a route between a and b, 10 miles apart on a 5" screen and then follow it at pace?

You zoom out when you want to see the whole thing and zoom in when you want to see detail, then you pan to centre the exact bit of the map you are interested in on the screen. Fixed scales and map sheets with folds and fixed boundaries are so last century.
Jane Livingstone - on 30 Nov 2013
In reply to alexgoodey:

Totally agree; I use Viewranger and it is brilliant, but you really can;t beat the paper map for planning & compass for navigation. I have found my iphone running out of battery when using Viewranger to track my route so it can and does happen!
Orgsm on 30 Nov 2013
In reply to Newbuild100:

Got Anquet on my phone. Got the whole of the UK at 1:50,000. Anywhere, anytime, I can go do a walk with OS mapping. Try that with paper maps.

In reply to Newbuild100:
Just downloaded a compass App on to my Android. Looks pretty good but I've yet to use it for real. Could be useful if you forget or lose your compass. Cost me nothing and literally doesn't weigh anything so why not have it.
Post edited at 16:28
In reply to John Burns:

So far playing about with the digital compass I find it has the disconcerting ability to be 180 degrees out for the first minute or so it's switched on.

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