I get sent lots of apps to try, and whether they’re on iOS, Android, Windows, or Linux, I try them all. Mainly because there’s always a chance that an app will not only do what its developer intended, but also give you an idea of how it might shape other aspects of your iPhone.
That’s what happened with GPS compass, released in late April by developer Rihab Mehboob. He got in touch in January about a messaging app he also created, which works ingeniously as a note-taking app.
This time, Mehboob told me that he wanted to create something different from other compass apps, which had a great UI, but could also easily point a user in the right direction when walking somewhere.
I’ve been using it around Lincoln last week, and not only is its purpose successful, but it gives me inspiration on how Apple could improve its Maps app for iOS 16, which may be announced at WWDC 2022 in June.
Maps in iOS 16 should be inspired by this app
Even before Maps was redesigned by Apple in iOS 6, you could set a destination and then follow your route using a compass feature in the app. Since the launch of the Apple Watch in 2015, you can set your destination on your iPhone, then have your watch tap your wrist whenever you need to turn left or right.
This has all been helpful, but while Apple has said it has a vested interest in augmented reality (AR), there’s no functionality yet in Maps to take advantage of the technology.
When you want to find your location in Maps, you need to double-tap the “location” button in the top right and the app will adjust and rotate to give you an idea of where you’re facing. However, it can be difficult to find the right direction and pressing a button twice feels unintuitive.
Mehboob’s app solves this problem in an instant. Lift your iPhone and it goes into mode with a compass overlaid on the screen. Lower the iPhone and it will show the map. It’s a simple feature, but worked great in practice as I walked down Lincoln’s Main Street.
Whether Mehboob moves on to the next idea as WWDC approaches, or there are bugs to be ironed out in a future Compass GPS update, there’s potential here for a fully-fledged Maps app if Apple isn’t improving its own Maps app in iOS 16.
Although it’s free to download, Compass GPS has a $9.99 / £9.99 / AU$10.99 fee to continue using its features, raising hopes the app might see more useful features. In the coming months.
Either way, Mehboob’s app shows what the potential of Apple’s Maps app could be with augmented reality, especially if the AR glasses rumors come to fruition.