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Compass on Mobiles

Hi all,

My current thinking is as follows:

  • Add a mini-compass as a fourth button at the bottom of the screen. My small concern here is that to make is aesthetically pleasing it would be the same size as the other buttons, which would possibly make it a bit small.
  • Tap the button, and the map will orientate to match the compass. Tap again to move it back to normal.
  • Swipe up on the compass, and get a large transparent compass above the map. Swipe down to close doesn't work, as I think we still wish to be able to move the map using swipe, so we will need a close button to appear when the large compass is visible.

I've also been thinking the stats button could move to the current gap on the invisible button bar, and put the mini compass bottom left, meaning that it could be slightly larger than the buttons.

We have a new Settings->Map Window coming soon to control some settings on the map screen, so my guess is we will have some configuration for how this works there, size, transparency etc

Before anyone gets too excited, we aren't starting this quite yet, but I wanted to have the discussion so I can get it planned in.

Another option is to make the compass part of the Stats bar, but I personally can't see that working nicely.

We have some time, so I'm opening this one up to ideas.

Many thanks,


P.S. I've not discussed here declination, or compass versus direction of travel. My thinking is, if we are moving, use direction of travel - direction between GPS fixings, into which declination I believe is not an issue. Whilst stationary, we have to go with the compass, and then declination is an issue, although I'm not sure on the accuracy of the internal compasses.

Hi Graham, Happy New Year to you and the team and all the ‘beta testers’. I think that sounds very workeable to me. I’m keen, as always, to maximise the screen size so having a small icon that can be made more visible with a touch or swipe suits me fine. I’m probably a bit OCD so having the screen balanced in some way is good for me visually and operationally. I’ve been a bit out of the loop recently as I’ve been working on a spare bedroom updating radiators, flooring, furniture, etc., so hopefully I’m back testing and getting out for some walking. Cheers Ernie
Hi Graham,

Internal Compass
The design of the compass and compass button would need to take into
account that some devices don't have an internal compass. I have a Moto
G4 Plus which does not have an internal compass.

Paul Whitfield


Hi Graham,

Overall your ideas for the compass control sound very logical. I think what you are proposing is not a replication of the OMNC mini compass but something rather more sophisticated. If I understand you the 'compass' button (when off) appears grey like the GPS button. When you then tap it (dare I say) it morphs into a mini compass (rather like in C) but in a addition the map rotates to align itself North with the compass? Tap it again and the map returns to align portrait or landscape and the button goes grey.

I agree that such a button would need to be a little bigger - same size as the mini on C maybe.

I very much like the idea of it expanding to cover the map. I wonder rather than swiping and then having to have another button to collapse it you double tap to expand then double tap to collapse.

In settings along with controlling colour, shape transparency I wonder if map orientation ie to orientate or not when the compass is on should be included and also a toggle to a) auto include the mag dec based on current location or b) manually set it.

So maybe:-

1. Compass button when off is a greyed out mini

2. Tap to turn on - compass 'colours' up and, if enabled in settings, map orientates

3. Double tap to expand compass over map

4. Double tap to collapse to mini

5 Tap mini to turn off

Not sure whether these fit with your own ideas or whether I have misunderstood.


The suggestion of tap the to orient the is just what we need. I find l & r when travel is anything but north quite a challenge! Ted
Hi Graham,

Map Orientation
It would be useful to have both "North up" and "Head up" map orientation
options. I would probably find "Head up" more useful.

Compass Damping
The compass would likely need to be damped in order to avoid the map screen
from "swinging" back and forth too much which might incur heavier battery use
due to OMN having to constantly redraw the map. Perhaps an option to allow the
amount of damping to be set, e.g. redraw map only if compass heading changes
by more than N degrees.

Paul Whitfield


Hi Graham,

Compass Damping
A "minimum distance travelled" compass damping option might also be useful.
So, two possible options for compass damping, "heading delta" and "distance delta".
Perhaps selected in a similar way to tracklog "time x distance" settings.

Paul Whitfield



I have never used the compass on OMNC nor ever felt a need for it.  Therefore I will let others comment on the proposed interface.  I simply hope that an option in the settings menu would allow the user to specify whether the stats bar button  and compass button appear at all.


Hi Graham,

Button bar
In your opening post, you mention a new "Settings -> Map Window" to control map screen settings.
Given that the button bar will be fully populated with the addition of a mini-compass there will be
a significant loss of map real estate across the bottom of the screen. Would it be worth, in the the
"Settings -> Map Window" to allow users to select which buttons to hide; the Menu button probably
should remain permanent and/or an option to hide the button bar in a similar manner to which
MS Windows allows the taskbar to be hidden?

Paul Whitfield


Hi Graham,

I think your proposal is workable and I think a close button is better than a double tap to close, if only because I sometimes struggle with double tap in the cold... I like the north orientation display option. 

Since you are in planning in OMNC I don't recall the degrees being displayed on the compass. If I'm at a location and I want to head in a bearing of 236 degrees, say, if I'm north up display then  when the device is rotated I should be able to see when I get to 236 degrees. If in direction of travel display I should also be able to determine where 236 degrees is. (This is important if walking near Kinder Scout (say) when there is hardly any visibility).

Happy new year to you all


Hi Graham Very pleased to see the start of this module. Basics:- I think we need to separate Map orientation from Compass control buttons ( i see me using map orientation all the time, but the compass perhaps very little) Map orientation button This requires a single button, (normally always visible), which cycles the app thro ‘North up’, ‘Compass orientation ‘, or ‘track direction'. Tapping this button easily cycles thro these display modes. The button would show a ‘N' ,’Compass symbol’ or a ‘track wiggle' symbol to indicate current mode. (Track mode would not be available if no track was in progress) . This button would not control the compass display. (but perhaps a ‘long press’ could invoke the compass display mode, with another long press to close the compass display ) When in compass or track orientation mode, the gps marker would shift from the default centre of the screen, to 3/4 down the the screen, with a centre line graticule line drawn up the phone screen, from the gps marker. This gps position will give a much greater vista of the route/mapping ahead. An (optional via settings) mini north arrow pointer could be attached to the gps marker, together with an overlay text of digital current bearing, to allow monitoring of how well your phone compass is working. Compass orientation mode provides an easy ‘point and shoot ‘ way to identify objects in your view. Just point your phone centre line at the object and it’s there on the graticule line. Just change map type to road atlas to identify distant peaks etc. Battery drain It is possible that continuous compass map rotation may be a battery burner or nauseous. So as has been suggested, there could be a timeout on this. You may only need this mode for say 15-20 secs? But in any case the mode is easily recalled by a re tap on the orientation mode button. Another option may be to have a ‘brake’ on the compass map rotation to save battery and allow a static study of the vista without the map swimming. This would require yet another button, but perhaps we could use the the bearing text overlay zone. Green text for active rotation, tap to get blue text for braked or frozen, then tap again for green rotation. Compass display mode button I occasionally used the OMNC mini compass, but I believe the orientation modes proposed above make this obsolete. Which leaves us with the full compass. Modern phones now have much better hardware. So I favour a full screen opaque mapping overlay option, centred on the gps marker, controlled somehow? I also favour a minimal north arrow together with a digital text overlay of current bearing, rather than a fancy full analogue image. However I believe once we get ‘mountain navigate to a point’ mode, then the compass display is also redundant, but may still needed for the roundness of the app. (Note that this ‘map orientation mode development, is the groundwork to the full navigation module, to hopefully to follow). Settings options Both the above mode buttons (orientation and compass) should be user selectable as visible or not, in settings, to save screen space, but would be enabled on as an initial default. I don't have a strong view on the icon for the ‘compass display’ button, some form of hieroglyph.? But I can't see a compass within the button working. Declination clearly belongs in settings If this all works we will shift OMN to a class leading app, but also give mapping novices a great new toolset. Roger Hazlewood
As usual the forum app has destroyed all my formatting! The attachment below may show a formatted word version Roger


I had to paste your comments into word and add para breaks to really get to grips with what you are saying. With respect to "Track Direction" this would require an enhancement to OMN to say which track is being followed as multiple tracks can be simultaneously opened in gpx editor. Once you have that then the stats screen could display distance to next waypoint, distance left on the track, duration etc.per a previous comment when discussing stats.

I can't see the compass ever becoming redundant!


I am quite intrigued with what seems to me to be the level of complexity that some users seem to want to add to the compass function.

I have to confess that I very rarely use the compass so may well be missing the point.

If I have planned a route on my iPad mini, and am out walking this route, I track the route and if the track diverges from the route I can immediately see this and make an adjustment.

On rare occasions I am faced with a meeting of several paths and use the compass to check which one is going in the right direction.  I might see a distant tower, building or hill and want to identify it but that is also rare.

@Graham, You say:

"Another option is to make the compass part of the Stats bar, but I personally can't see that working nicely."

I would have thought this was quite a good solution.  It could be just another option to select in addition to the various stats and could be made sufficiently transparent for the map to still show up underneath.

@Dennis.  Apologies if this is a daft question but ....Why would you have lots of tracks open and not know which one you are following?

I carry an old fashioned compass in case my electronics fail and also have a compass on my iPhone so this is not something that I see as having any priority.


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