Skip to content

Hands-on with the new Apple Watch Series 5 compass

WatchOS 6 introduces a new Compass app (only for the Apple Watch Series 5), along with a couple of Compass complications. It works pretty much exactly like you’d expect, only with a few neat extras. You can access it from the All Apps screen, or by tapping the Compass complication on one of your Apple Watch faces. Let’s take a look.

The right direction

The new Watch OS 6 compass.
The new Watch OS 6 Compass app.

The Compass app opens to a familiar compass dial. This view is already full of information. The needle points north, of course, but a digital readout also shows your current bearing, along with (arrayed around the dial) your current elevation, longitude and latitude, and incline. Incline measure the tilt of the watch itself, its incline from the horizontal. If you want to make the watch itself horizontal, you can use the level crosshairs to do so.

In this view, you get a little haptic bump whenever the needle crosses the 15-degree markers, and a bigger bump when it crosses north.

Scroll down to see this extra information more clearly. And you can Force Touch (press hard) on the screen to set a custom bearing. For instance, if your destination is SSW, then you can dial this in, and have the needle always point in that direction.

Apple Watch Compass complications

Two kinds of compass complication.
Two kinds of Compass complication.
Image: Apple

There are two Compass complications for Apple Watch Series 5. Both can be seen in the above screenshot, taken from the face configurator in the iPhone’s Watch app. There’s a small circular complication, and a larger band. Both update live as you move the watch. If there’s any need to use the built-in compass, then this is my favorite way to do it. A modified Activity face with a Compass complication is a great start for hiking, for example.

As a new Apple Watch user, I have’t used directions much yet on the watch. But I do use them a ton on the iPhone, and the compass there is essential when you’ve just emerged from a metro stop in an unknown part of town. I’m looking forward to being able to do that with the watch.

Previous article How to optimize your swimming stroke with Apple Watch

Leave a comment

Comments must be approved before appearing

* Required fields

★ Customer reviews

Let customers speak for us

638 reviews
80%
(509)
11%
(69)
6%
(38)
1%
(6)
3%
(16)
Satisfied

Love the band

Sent the wrong one, twice

Never even got the right case for my phone. I got sent the same case twice, not even the case for my phone.

Good morning Rebbecca, I apologize for this. I have checked my system and cannot see any correspondence with you regarding this. Please email me adel@cultofmac.com with the case you actually received, so I can get this sorted for you? Many thanks, Adel.

Great band

My hubby loves the feel and color of the bands

Not impressed

No real easy way to attach cables to it. Also, can't easily use Qi charging for iPhone... The bamboo wood part of it is nice though, even if not very useful. I bought this as an experiment to see how it would work out. Having to actually plug the iPhone cable in to the phone is not what I would call convenient. This will probably end up as a paper weight.