How to use the new Compass app on Apple Watch

With watchOS 9, Apple has added many new features to the Apple Watch. There’s a new low power mode to extend battery life, an improved sleep tracking feature in watchOS, and a powerful new compass app. So if you’re going on a hike or exploring the road less travelled, know that the new compass app can do a lot to help you find your way and even retrace your steps. If that sounds interesting to you, read on as we look at how to use the new compass app on Apple Watch.

Learn how to use the watchOS 9 Compass app

The new compass app in watchOS 9 enables many useful features. You can obviously do the basics like find your bearing, altitude and coordinates; however, you can also do more, adding waypoints or recording your steps to retrace later. We’ll take a look at all of these things in this article. As always, you can use the table of contents to jump to any section you want to learn more about.

Check bearings, elevation, tilt and coordinates

The new compass app shows a lot more information, including things like your bearing (which was also available in the old app), elevation, incline, and even your current coordinates. Checking all this information is also quite easy.

Just open the Compass app on your Apple Watch and you’ll be able to see things like the heading you’re facing. If you rotate the digital crown, you will be able to see additional information such as elevation, incline, and even coordinates (latitude and longitude) of your location.

How to use the new Compass app on Apple Watch
Image: Apple

Alternatively, you can tap the menu icon in the top left. Here you will be able to see elevation, incline and other information.

How to use the new Compass app on Apple Watch

Add a new bearing

Here is what you need to do to add a new bearing in the compass app.

  • Tap the menu icon in the top left.
menu icon in the Apple Watch Compass app
  • Scroll down and tap “Bearing”.
tap on the bearing
  • Rotate the Digital Crown to set the bearing and tap “Done”.
set the bearing and press done

Clear bearing

  • Tap the menu icon in the top left.
menu icon in the Apple Watch Compass app
  • Scroll down and tap “Clear Bearing”.
How to use the new Compass app on Apple Watch

Add elevation information to the watch face

The compass app in watchOS 9 also supports some really cool complications for your favorite Apple Watch faces. So, if you want, you can easily add the altitude information directly to your watch screen. Here’s how:

  • Long-press the watch face, then tap “Edit”.
How to use the new Compass app on Apple Watch
  • Here, swipe to the “Complications” screen, then tap on a complication you want to add the elevation information to.
How to use the new Compass app on Apple Watch
  • Go to the “Compass” category and choose “Elevation” as the complication for your watch face.
How to use the new Compass app on Apple Watch

To note: You can also choose complications for tilt, among others compass complications.

Waypoints in watchOS 9

One of the coolest new features of the compass app is the ability to create waypoints. Waypoints are a great way to navigate outdoors, whether you’re hiking or exploring off the beaten path. With waypoints, your Apple Watch will remember the coordinates of a location and you can navigate back to it using the Compass app. Here’s how you can create waypoints in the Compass app on watchOS 9.

Create waypoints in the Compass app

  • In the Compass app, tap the “location arrow” icon.
How to use the new Compass app on Apple Watch
  • Enter a label for the waypoint.
add label to waypoint
  • You can even choose a color as well as a symbol for the waypoint if you wish.
color for waypoint
  • Once done, just hit “Done”, and that’s it. The waypoint will now appear in the compass app.
How to use the new Compass app on Apple Watch

View/Navigate to Waypoints

  • Tap any waypoint in the compass app to access a list of all your waypoints.
waypoints displayed in compass app
  • Choose the one you want and press “Select”.
select waypoint apple watch compass app
  • The compass app will now show you the direction you need to move, as well as the distance, in order to reach the waypoint.
waypoint navigation watchos 9 compass app

Delete waypoints

  • Tap any waypoint in the compass app to access a list of all your waypoints.
waypoints displayed in compass app
  • Choose the one you want and press “Select”.
select waypoint apple watch compass app
  • Press the “pencil” icon to edit the waypoint.
edit the waypoint to delete
  • Scroll down and tap “Delete Waypoint”.
delete waypoint watchos 9

Add waypoints to the watch face (Apple Watch SE, Series 6 and later)

The cool thing about waypoints is that you can even add them to your Apple Watch face as a complication to easily access them whenever you need them. Here’s how.

  • Long-press the watch face, then tap “Edit”.
How to use the new Compass app on Apple Watch
  • Here, swipe to the “Complications” screen, then tap on a complication you want to add the elevation information to.
How to use the new Compass app on Apple Watch
  • Go to the “Compass” category and choose any complication from “Compass Waypoints” for your watch face.
compass waypoints complications

Record and retrace steps

If you’re hiking or somewhere else you want to make sure you can retrace your steps back to where you started, the new Record and Retrace Steps feature in watchOS 9 will be a godsend for you. Here’s how to record and retrace steps with Apple Watch.

  • In the Compass app, tap the “foot” icon in the lower right corner of the app screen.
retrace steps compass button app watchos 9
  • The app will start recording your steps. You will see a pause icon instead of the steps icon in the bottom right. If you want to retrace your steps, just tap the pause icon.
check in steps compass app
  • You can now tap “Retrace steps” to retrace your path or “Delete steps” to delete the recorded path.
retrace or delete steps

Check out the new and improved Apple Watch Compass

Well, that’s about all you can do with the new Compass app in watchOS 9. As you can see, the app can do a lot of things now. It can retrace your steps, save waypoints for easier explorations into the unknown, and of course it can show you your elevation, bearing, incline, and more information. Plus, you can now add Compass complications to get important information at a glance. So what do you think of the new compass app in watchOS 9? Let us know in the comments.