Apps, iPhone, News

How To: Check Elevation With iOS 8.3 Compass App

ios 8.3 compass app

Apple introduced ‘Compass’ as a stock app in iOS 6 (if my memory serves me correctly, anyway). It was a simple, if somewhat inaccurate way to get an idea of which cardinal direction you are facing. Compass received a complete visual overhaul with iOS 7, completing removing the skeumorphic user interface, and replacing it with a sleek, dark, aesthetically pleasing one.

Apple has released betas of iOS 8.2 and 8.3 to developers for testing their apps, and reporting bugs and such. There aren’t any significant new features, but one small feature that did catch our eye was the presence of an elevation meter in the iOS 8.3 Compass app.

ios 8.3 compass app

Yes, the iOS 8.3 Compass app now shows you your current elevation above mean sea level. It could be using one of two methods to calculate elevation: the iPhone 6’s barometer, or the GPS.

The former is out of the question, as the iPhone 6 / 6 Plus’ barometer only lets you know of relative increase or decrease in elevation. It is not accurate enough to tell you your absolute elevation.

The latter is what is actually being used. Smartphone GPS can get you within a few meters accuracy in outdoor environments. So, once your iPhone knows where you are located, it can use that to find out your elevation from a third-party API. I am not sure, but I do think Google or Apple Maps’ itself does have elevation data saved for each location across the globe.

iOS 8.3 is a few months away, though. It is for the first time in my blogging career that I am seeing Apple seed not one, but two beta versions of iOS. iOS 8.2 is expected in a few weeks, so it is safe to say iOS 8.3 will take a few months. It will probably be the final major version of iOS before iOS 9 is announced in June or July at Worl Developers Conference.

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Passionate writer at Cupertino Times, casual photographer, gamer, sharer of amusing links and an amalgam of all things geeky. Catch me on Google+