Spyglass iPhone app a solid compass with growth potential

Apr 14, 2010
Tech

Quick confession: I am directionally challenged. I own a GPS and routinely use it on simple trips to avoid accidentally getting lost. I have no tracker sense, and it is nothing short of divine intervention that I live in a major city with a grid-based street system; because if there’s one place that’s hard to […]

Quick confession: I am directionally challenged. I own a GPS and routinely use it on simple trips to avoid accidentally getting lost. I have no tracker sense, and it is nothing short of divine intervention that I live in a major city with a grid-based street system; because if there’s one place that’s hard to get lost, it’s a place where the streets all connect around to each other.

It should be no surprise then, that a visual compass iPhone app that combines the iPhone’s camera and its compass makes for a very cool app in my opinion. Spyglass’s primary function is just that, a compass. Even as navigationally-challenged as I am, I was able to understand the basic compass functions.

The view you see in the $1.99 iPhone app is basically the same as if you were taking a photo or a video, with the addition of a circle notating your relative compass bearing and a tiny notation in the top corner with your latitude and longitude. It’s sort of like the view The Terminator saw, which is actually kind of cool.

Spyglass also adds in a bit of mapping and GPS navigation, though it doesn’t work quite as effectively as the compass feature. If you place a point on the map, you’ll notice, first of all, that the compass doesn’t do a great job orienting your actual position. This makes the directions that the GPS feature provide slightly less than stellar. It’s much less difficult to pin a point on the map as a destination, luckily; and seeing the point come up on your screen with its estimated distance from you, is again, pretty cool.

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If there were some way to load points into the mapping feature, so you could grab addition information about a store or something along your journey, that would make this feature far more useful. For now, you’re limited to only points you label yourself with no additional information available.

Spyglass also notates certain stars in the sky, as well as the sun and moon. That’s a nice feature for those of us in cities where stars are hard to come by, though possibly less interesting for more rural iPhone users.

All told, I’m probably more sold on this iPhone app for the potential of what it could be rather than what it currently is, but it’s still a very solid compass, with plenty of room to grow into something more.

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Dan Kricke

Dan Kricke has been playing with electronics and writing about them for years. He loved his Sega Dreamcast and now the PlayStation 3. On the iPhone, he's a fan of sports apps and anything that offers new music.

 

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