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back to article iPhone compass evidence surfaces

It appears that at least one upcoming iPhone will include a digital compass in support of Apple's ongoing fascination with location-based services. The evidence for this new bit of internal iPhone hardware comes from a screenshot of an iPhone 3.0 debugging menu obtained by The Boy Genius Report that lists in its location …

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Ed
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Read it?

It says 'Show in Compass' and 'Show in Maps'. Maps is an App, so surely 'Compass' is an app? Perhaps a location sharing system like Google Latitude.

That's not to say it won't have a built in compass. I'd say it's quite likely as they're dirt cheap and the competition has them.

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Jobs Horns

A compass? Woo F*£%&& Hoo.

Sad fanboi barstewards.....

"my phone can tell me the direction i am facing"

"really... how very interesting..... Eff off you spotty get".

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Jobs Horns

I can feel history being re-written already

Nokia 5140i anyone?

Of course, I don't doubt the cupertino kool-aid drinkers will claim it as their own.

Better get those erasers warmed up.

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compass

The T-Mobile G1 (aka HTC Dream) already includes a compass

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Paris Hilton

Google?!

It's not even a Google innovation - Garmin GPS devices have had these built-in for YEARS.

Though that said, you generally have to keep the device perfectly horizontal for it to work - iPhone users might not like the idea they're now being dictated on how to hold their device as well as how they can use it...

Paris because she spends a lot of time being horizontal.

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Si
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Very handy

The one minor drawback when using GPS on the iPhone to get directions in the Maps app is that you can't always tell which direction you are facing, so the addition of a compass to orient the maps to where you're standing should really help.

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Anonymous Coward

I believe it's actually an Intel innovation...

Title says it all, Google and Apple are just licensing it....

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Anonymous Coward

All true

I think there's a very good change that they'll add a compass. "Keeping up with the Googles". What's less sure is whether they'll put this in an iPod touch (I hope so) or just in the phone.

But things like that screenshot might not be telling you much. They actually put the direction field into the location API a while ago; I believe it currently returns your heading based on recent locations.

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As Seen on TV!

The iPhone compass application was seen by me Tuesday last in an iPhone advert that popped up on The Discovery Channel or some such. Portrait mode with a circular compass dial in the middle and GPS numbly bits on the top or bottom. Only about 3-4 seconds, but that should be enough to cement the rumors here...

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Quite likely

Having a compass is very useful for orientation of maps, Starbucks, etc and is pretty much a must-have for any location based service.

However having a heading in the location-based API could also be coming from GPS (since GPS gives heading). GPS will tell you the direction of movement but won't give you the orientation of the device though.

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which way is clue?

yeah, the one disadvantage of being an iphone owner is not being able to work out which way you're facing, even with a map.

Still, it must be one of those amazing ease of use features, like those 10001 apps, most of which seem to be abstractions of data available through a 20 second web search, allbeit with a fancy skin overlay. It's like paying for a fecking bookmark.

Want to know what taxis are in your area? Navigate to the apple store, search for the app, buy the app, install the app, use the app* (as the advert says - some steps excluded). Yes, that's a whole lot quicker than opening the browser and typing "<location> taxi", and saving the number into contacts for future use.

Fecking dolts...well, they can enjoy buying all these "useful" applications all over again when they upgrade to v3.

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Stop

iCompass [tm]

Patent Pending # 21368263233

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More Teambuilding Opportunities

Nice idea. Now they can combine Paintballing with Orienteering. You've got your maps, now you have your compass. Just make sure no-one cheats and has the GPS turned on.

Object of the exercise... capture the enemy camp but to get there you have to go via a number of waypoints........

Team S&M vs Team Beancounters.

BOFH/PFY get to be Team Insurgent, operate from mission control and fly GPS equipped stealth robocopters loaded with surveillance and jamming kit armed with 30mm ChainPaintBall guns... and missiles.... and cluster bombs.... and Paint/Air Bombs.

I'm not sure how a Paint/Air weapon would function but if there are Fuel/Air ones there has to be some form of Paint/Air equivalent.

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This is not innovation

If it was then Nokia would be known as the innovation leader. Innovation is when you use it for something unexpected.

It's mainly a business decision as to whether you include a feature chip, based on price, size, power consumption. A compass is an obvious feature to exploit in (Google) maps and street view, predictive GPS tracking, embedded location data in photos (direction camera as pointing), and rendezvous navigation. It's cheap, so Apple can't afford to leave it out now it's reasonably common. But it doesn't drive revenue opportunities nearly as strongly as GPS, where the lifetime cost of adding GPS to the iPhone is almost certainly negative (costs a couple of bucks to include, but generates location based service revenue that covers the cost several times over).

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Needed for a wand

a wand being what you point at things, which then tells you about them. Rather more use in museums than a dumb narrative device.

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Maybe can work at all angles

Wouldn't be too much of a stretch to imagine an electronic compass that doesn't depend on the angle of the device. The accelerometers can work out which way is up, and therefore which combination of axes to read from the compass chip(s).

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Tilted compass

You can do a digital tilted compass but you need a 3 axis magnetic sensor and tilt sensors. It's tricky cos the way the maths works out an error in titl is 2-4x as big in heading ( God I'm such a nerd) it's also a bugger to cancel out the display and battery.

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Flame

Big, fat, hairy deal.

So it has a compass. So does my co-worker's el-cheapo Casio cellphone given to him by the company, and for that matter at least one toy I got in a happy meal.

While useful, I can just imagine being lost in the wilderness and making decent progress... until the battery gets low.

Perhaps some fanbois need it and both hands to find their posterior?

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Essential

I've got a compass on my watch, great for deciding which exit you need on the tube or finding your way into/ out of Amsterdam's red light district.

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Go

No one said it WAS an Apple innovation!

A lot of these comments are criticizing Apple for claiming this as something new, when as far as this article goes at least, they've done nothing of the sort!

In my experience, having a compass to determine the direction you're facing when starting-up the map application, and in the absence of other land marks, is very useful. Of course, if you get by fine without one, well done, good luck to you. You don't have to buy one; it's not mandatory and you're not the gadget police!

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IT Angle

Re: More Teambuilding Opportunities

I like more... then again I suppose I would since it is 'my' idea.. me me me me.

Notice how Team Insurgent cunningly uses the letters IT.... but the wrong way around!!! How Freudian was that?!

Take a 'big' bit of terrain.

Stick S&M, camp at point A.

Give S&M 10 waypoints.

Tell them that one of the waypoints is 'close' to B&C Central.

They will/should be able to work out which is close to theirs..

Stick B&C, camp at point B.

Give B&C 10 waypoints.

Tell them that one of the waypoints is 'close' to S&M Central.

They will/should be able to work out which is close to theirs..

Split the waypoints as ten total per side but make seven isolated and three common, or split it other ways, so as they can/might meet up and have a barney. Tell them nine are isolated and one is common to see if they get lazy checking for enemy activity.

Can you smell the opportunity for strategic planning, assuming they are capable?

Equip the, soon to be ruggedised, phones and guns with IRDA(?) bits, for headshots or other important organs, and the scoring goes beyond 'Splat, Your Dead' 'Oh No I am Not, it's just a flesh wound.' 'Yeah! but that's your thigh that is so you would not be able to crawl away from me.... SPLAT SPLAT SPLAT. Dead now!?'

Oh.... that reminds me. Time to go update things for the people running my Anger Management Course. It's not as if they were very good at it before they met me :-)

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Jobs Horns

@Martin

The heading can just have an offset added. It's a single line of C/VB- and can even be pre-set on some compass chips.

Also, it's got the GPS and a load of accelerometers to help remove any errors.

Finally, it's been done before- and it's Apple we're talking about. They've probably got enough engineering knowledge to take someone elses work and repackage it to look good and be easy to use. And for 99% of uses it's got to be a couple of degrees accurate at most so any small fluctuations won't be of any consequence.

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Linux

As the first Coward said...

Nokia 5140 came out in 2005 and had a digital compass built it, worked pretty well too, I didn't own one but I was working for one of the UK's 'Big Four' mobile networks at the time, shame the phone was such a brick though, unlike it predecessor!

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Joke

Real innovation.

The I-am-lost-give-me-directions-back-to-my-hotel button.

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Go

I'll second Brett's comment...

Almost a week ago, I saw an iPhone advertisement on TV that clearly showed the obviously-magnetic compass dial holding steady on a twisting iPhone. The voice said, "Need a compass? There's an app for that."

So it's not exactly a big secret.

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Compass app

Well that's gonna be confusing, given Safari's icon is already a compass

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Jobs Halo

It's not the hardware, it's the software

Everyone knows that Apple uses off the shelf components, especially in the iPhone, so a digital compass is no surprise (it's obvious even).

It's what OSX iPhone will do with this digital compass in CoreLocation services, and apps that make use of this feature, that has potential to be interesting and innovative.

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iPhone ad

"The iPhone compass application was seen by me Tuesday last in an iPhone advert that popped up on The Discovery Channel or some such. Portrait mode with a circular compass dial in the middle and GPS numbly bits on the top or bottom. Only about 3-4 seconds, but that should be enough to cement the rumors here."

The add shows an app called g-spot, which simply uses your GPS to work out which way you are moving, and show it on a compass. Stop moving and it has no idea which way you are pointing and is therefore doesn't have the same function as a true compass. The only useful feature it has is to provide raw gps data on your location (like nokia GPS phones)

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compass app

has been available for ages.

It uses the position of the sun against the current time. It shows a traditional compass on the screen, with a line bisecting it, the idea is that you point your finger down at the centre of the compass, and turn the phone round till the shadow of your finger covers the line on the compass, then you can read of the points for whichever direction you want.

Granted, not very good, completely usless indoors, and not much good out doors in blighty, due to the almost constant cloud cover. Still quite a clever idea tho.

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Coat

@D@v3

And much easier than just remembering to point your (imaginary if necessary) hour hand at the Sun and bisecting the angle between the hour hand and 12 o'clock to figure out where South is. In fact it's the same principle, but doesn't rely on shadows. Even in cloudy Blighty it's relatively easy to figure out roughly where the Sun is.

Southern hemisphere bods, I expect you to know your own method.

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Alert

ha ha

does the bejesus phone still not have gps?

and now you get a compass odfo i had a java compass on my nokia 6260 back in the day

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Stop

Why compas?!!

GPS, as someone above has mentioned, tells you direction, internal gyroscope knows the orientation and phone's intrinsic movement. Just set (and from time to time adjust) the direction of the movement when the phone uses GPS and align it with the gyroscope. Voila - compass-like action, and you may even tilt your phone slightly. No extra battery-consuming gadgetry needed.

Those who want extra hardware in their phone must either not need the battery or they enjoy putting bricks in their pocket. One thing is sure - they're short on imagination, as solutions for most problems are already within reach with existing hardware.

By the way, what's this "at least one upcoming iPhone" nonsense? I just saw a commercial on TV yesterday for iPhone that showed a rotating compass and said "you want to know which way you're going on a hike.... there's an app for that"

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Pathfinder shoes

I've got a compass in my heel and it cost considerably less than an iPhone.

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Anonymous Coward

Location Based Services

Most location based services are rubbish anyway. I've never wanted or needed to find my nearest Starbucks using my phone. Also I find it very easy to remember where I parked my car...

There are some good ones too though, things like geotagging on images if that counts.

If you are hiking a real physical compass would be more useful surely? What if the phone runs out of battery and you didn't bother bringing a real compass?

I'd rather save the phone battery incase I got lost/injured and use it for making a call.

A LOT of the apps on the iPhone adverts are things Apple TELL me I need to have...Where as I don't even have an iPhone and get by just fine in day to day life.

I do like technology, I love it infact, so it's nothing against the tech used for these things, just that most apps are a novelty (not just for an iPhone but for a lot of mobile devices)

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Boffin

@Greg..

Like to see you try...

The iPhone has accelerometers not Gyros! ie they detect Linear acceleration changes , caused by either tilt (accl due to G) or movement G forces. They do not detect angular accn that is a gyro. However a hall effect surface mount sensor chip is 2mm and doesn't fuck up.

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