Love to know your current location and elevation, see your the direction you’re moving in, and know your bearings? All that information and more is available using the Compass app on your Apple Watch and iPhone. But if you can’t find the app on your watch, check your phone–your iPhone must have Apple’s compass app installed to see it on your watch!
Even some third-party apps offer compass app integration with the Apple Watch Series 5+. These new compass features get you moving in the right direction to your selected destination. We love these watch apps’ real-time feedback using the compass feature!
- But what if you can’t find the compass app on your watch?
- Allow Compass to access your location
- How to use the compass app on Apple Watch
- Is the compass app not showing accurate information or not working?
- Looking for a third-party Compass app for your older model Apple Watch?
But what if you can’t find the compass app on your watch?
If the Compass app isn’t installed, there’s a couple of reasons why.
First, let’s make sure your Apple Watch supports the compass app. Currently, the Compass app is only available on the Apple Watch Series 5 (or above.) So if you use an older model, you cannot install the compass app–the compass requires hardware included only the Series 5 onwards.
Also, your watch needs to use at least watchOS 6 and your iPhone iOS 13.
Now, if your Apple Watch is the correct model but the compass app is missing, check that your paired iPhone already has the compass app installed on it. Your iPhone must have the compass app for the app to show up on your Apple Watch.
Install the compass app on your Apple Watch
- Open the App Store on your paired iPhone (visit the App Store for iPhone not the app store for the Apple Watch)
- Search for the Compass app–make sure it’s the app developed by Apple
- Download and install the app
- Restart your Watch and your iPhone
- Check your watch for the compass app and tap it
Don’t see the compass app even after installing it on your iPhone?
Restart both your phone and watch.
If it still doesn’t show up, ask Siri on the watch to launch the compass app. Once Siri locates it, it should show up on your Apple Watch’s home screen.
Sneak a quick peek at your compass!
To quickly see your direction, add the Compass complication to your watch face.
With the compass complication, you can open the Compass app with just a single tap.
Allow Compass to access your location
When you open Compass for the first time, it requests permission to access your location. Tap While Using the App to grant permission.
If your Compass app doesn’t see your location
- Open the Settings app on your Apple Watch
- Tap Privacy > Location Services > Compass
- Tap While Using the App
How to use the compass app on Apple Watch
Tap the Compass app to see the direction that the top of your Apple Watch points you to. Then, find your bearing in the top-left corner.
For the most accurate reading, hold your watch flat to align the crosshairs at the center of the compass. When you start to move, the red cone surrounding the compass needle shows you the accuracy of your heading–a narrow cone indicates better accuracy than a wider cone.
To see your elevation, incline, and coordinates, rotate the Digital Crown.
Want to point to true north on the compass app?
By default, the compass uses a magnetic north. To change this to true north, open the Settings app on your Apple Watch, tap Compass, then toggle on Use True North.
Is the compass app not showing accurate information or not working?
If your Apple Watch is near magnets, those impact the accuracy of the compass sensor. That’s because it’s a magnetic compass. The compass app detects levels of magnetism using a magnetoresistive permalloy sensor (for short, a magnetometer.)
Unfortunately, many of Apple’s watch bands have magnets, including Apple’s Leather Loop, Milanese Loop, and earlier Sport Loop watch bands. These bands may interfere with the Apple Watch compass. In particular, bands with magnetic clasps can cause interference with the compass.
So try changing bands.
Apple Watch’s compass app isn’t affected by Sport Loop bands introduced from September 2019 onwards. All versions of the Sport Bands work without issue.
The magnets in your iPhone EarPods can also cause a deviation.
That’s why Apple recommends only using the compass app for basic navigation assistance. Don’t depend solely on your Apple Watch or iPhone compass app to provide you a precise location, proximity, distance, or direction.
Looking for a third-party Compass app for your older model Apple Watch?
All is not lost for folks wearing older model Apple Watches!
There are a bunch of developers creating apps for your Apple Watch that offer compass features. We suggest you open the Apple Watch app store and check out reviews of these apps and decide from there.
- Open the App Store app on your Apple Watch
- Tap in the Search field
- Choose if you want to scribble or dictate the word “compass” into your watch
- Scroll through the apps that show up
- Tap an app you find interesting
- Scroll down and tap Ratings & Reviews to read user reports
- To install, press Get
For most of her professional life, Amanda Elizabeth (Liz for short) trained all sorts of folks on how to use media as a tool to tell their own unique stories. She knows a thing or two about teaching others and creating how-to guides!
Her clients include Edutopia, Scribe Video Center, Third Path Institute, Bracket, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Big Picture Alliance.
Elizabeth received her Master of Fine Arts degree in media making from Temple University, where she also taught undergrads as an adjunct faculty member in their department of Film and Media Arts.