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3rd Gen iPhone Getting Digital Compass

Gordon Kelly by

3rd Gen iPhone Getting Digital Compass

Now here's a simple, yet sensible idea...

Continuing the highly welcome approach I like to dub common sense that was introduced with iPhone OS 3.0 is news the next generation iPhone will be fitted with a magnetometer. In English this is a digital compass and its existence has been confirmed by screens from the debugging menu in the latest iPhone OS 3.0 beta.

Why is this a good thing? Other than the potential for wildly inventive apps (think of the treasure hunt possibilities!) it should be a great help to the GPS system. After all knowing where you are and knowing where your destination is are only so much help when you have to walk 100 metres in one direction before getting your bearings. It would also surely have an amazing knock-on effect when using Google Street View.

Like the accelerometer could digital compasses become the next defacto addition to smartphones? Fingers crossed.

In related news Apple has declared all newly submitted iPhone apps must now be compatible with firmware 3.0 to be granted approval. This may seem like yet more power mongering but in reality it should help guarantee the majority of apps are compatible when this major update launches. Besides, v3.0 brings parental controls so with its arrival the strict moderation of more adult content could well become a thing of the past. Again, fingers crossed...


via BGR

Go to comments


May 8, 2009, 10:14 pm

"Like the accelerometer could digital compasses become the next defacto addition to smartphones? Fingers crossed."

I'm sure they will be most of nokias future offerings have it.

also why does it have "kitchen sink" as a menu option?


May 8, 2009, 10:16 pm

Requiring apps to be tested in 3.0 requires sacrificing an iPhone/iPod Touch to 'test' status (permanent, according to Apple) and loading the beta firmware on it. The emulator doesn't support all features. It also requires the 3.0 SDK to be installed separately, which by all accounts seems to be best done in an entirely separate OS install.

I understand why Apple are requiring this, but they seem to have put little thought into the practicalities.


May 8, 2009, 10:28 pm

Hooray! Yet more useless features than Apple will no doubt try and tell us we're unable to live without.

Luan Bach

May 8, 2009, 10:28 pm

Also this has the "bonus" for Apple of forcing iPod Touch owners with 2.0 to pay for the upgrade to 3.0 if they want to update/buy stuff from the iTunes store.


May 8, 2009, 11:58 pm

Why is it that Apple will gladly add a compass to their phone whereas the latest sat-navs are still without such a device? Automotive satnavs have had 'pedestrian' modes for years, would it be too much to ask that they included a compass to improve direction accuracy?


May 9, 2009, 3:45 am


"also why does it have "kitchen sink" as a menu option?"

-For the person that has everything but, silly ;)

( someone had to say it - I cracked first, sorry mate)


May 9, 2009, 1:23 pm

I'm looking to buy the iPhone 3G. Will a new iPhone be released to accommodate these new features or should I buy the current hardware and upgrade to OS3?


May 9, 2009, 2:15 pm

I have been using Windows Mobile phones for about 3 years now. I have always been jealous of how easy an iPhone is to use etc. but aware of it's many limitations, especially lack of A2DP and turn by turn sat nav. Firmware 3.0 neatly fills all the gaps and I cannot wait till my contract renewal (yes, I'm with O2) in the Summer :)

A magnetic compass would be great for me as we like hill walking and I would be looking for a mapping application for the iphone. That said, anybody who goes walking without a paper map and real compass, and the skill to use them, is plain bonkers!


May 10, 2009, 5:11 am


You must be a casual hill walker because you would need a charge for that, save your money on a good old compass, the Iphone could possibly leave in the middle of nowhere.


May 10, 2009, 10:58 pm

@LORD LUC4N - never buy current models when new models are imminent ;) At very least currently models become much cheaper when new ones are released!

@Retset - O2 lets users break their contracts as to upgrade to iPhones ;)


May 11, 2009, 1:42 pm

Roll on June! Although I doubt we'll see any new iPhones in the UK until Q4 at the earliest...


May 11, 2009, 3:41 pm

Maybe there's some devs on-hand that can clear this one up for me - when you've made an app using the SDK, does testing rely solely on the emulator? or can a developer upload and use it on an iPhone for testing aswell? Or is that not possible until Apple have had their hands on it for review?!


May 11, 2009, 3:56 pm

@Gordon - not true or the person i spoke to didnt know what they were doing, called o2 a few months back and they wouldnt let me upgrade to the iphone until my current contract ended, said was a temporary thing. Now i prob wont even get another iPhone, fingers crossed for a good android phone at some point this year.


May 11, 2009, 10:40 pm

@hank: We tend to go on quite long walks and I'm sure you are right that an iphone would not 'go the distance' without a charge. I have an old walking GPS that is useful if you make a navigational boo boo and I'd like to think the iPhone would make a useful replacement. Really though, I only need a map and compass ... but I love a gadget ;)

@Gordon: Thanks, didn't know that. Just need to wait till new iPhone announced and give O2 a bell. Cheers!

Scott Williamson

May 12, 2009, 11:59 am

@Shaun, the emulator does not have some features, such as accelerometer support, so for full testing, you need to configure a physical touch or iphone as a test platform.

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