A new compass app offers a feature that can improve Maps in iOS 16

Compass AR app on iOS
(Image credit: TechRadar)

I get sent a lot of apps to try out, 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 achieve what its developer has intended, but it also gives you an idea of how it could shape other aspects of your iPhone.

This is what happened with Compass GPS, released at the end of April by developer Rihab Mehboob. He got in touch back in January about a messaging app he created as well, that ingeniously works like a note-taking app.

This time, Mehboob told me that he wanted to make something different from other compass apps, which featured a great user interface, but could also easily direct a user in the right direction when walking somewhere.

I've been using it around Lincoln the past week, and not only does his aim succeed, but it gives me inspiration as to 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

Compass GPS in iOS

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Even before Maps was redesigned by Apple in iOS 6, you could set a destination and then follow your route through a compass feature in the app. Since the launch of the Apple Watch in 2015, you've been able to set your destination on your iPhone, then have your watch tap you on the wrist every time you need to turn left or right.

All of this has been useful, but even though Apple has said that it has a vested interest in augmented reality (AR), there's not been a feature in Maps to take advantage of the technology as yet.

When you want to find your position in Maps, you have to press the 'location' button on the top right twice for the app to adjust and rotate to give you an idea as to where you're facing. However, it can be difficult finding the right direction, and tapping a button twice feels unintuitive.

Mehboob's app solves this issue in an instant. Raise your iPhone and it switches to a mode with a compass overlaying the screen. Lower the iPhone, and it will show the map. It's a feature that's simple, but worked very well in practice as I was walking up the high street in Lincoln.

Compass GPS app in AR mode

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Whether Mehboob is moving on to the next idea as WWDC approaches, or there's bugs to fix in a future update of Compass GPS, there's potential here for a fully-fledged Maps app if Apple doesn't improve upon its own Maps app in iOS 16.

While it's free to download, Compass GPS has a $9.99 / £9.99 / AU$10.99 fee to keep using its features, which gives hope that the app could see more useful features in the coming months.

Regardless, Mehboob's app showcases what the potential of Apple's Maps app could be with AR, especially if the rumored AR Glasses come to fruition.

Daryl Baxter
Software & Downloads Writer

Daryl had been freelancing for 3 years before joining TechRadar, now reporting on everything software-related. In his spare time, he's written a book, 'The Making of Tomb Raider'. His second book, '50 Years of Boss Fights', came out in June 2024, and has a newsletter called 'Springboard'. He's usually found playing games old and new on his Steam Deck and MacBook Pro. If you have a story about an updated app, one that's about to launch, or just anything Software-related, drop him a line.