The 8 Best Compass Apps of 2018

Android or iOS users: Navigate with confidence

Compass app

Bill Hinton/Getty Images

Rather than purchasing a traditional compass that you must remember to pack or carry with you, you can simply download a compass app to your phone. There are many choices available; check out this collection to find a compass app for Android or a compass app for iPhone that meets your needs.  

Note: All current iPhones have built-in compasses, which you can access through the Extras folder or the Utilities folder. Follow the on-screen instructions to calibrate the compass when using it for the first time.

01
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Best Basic Compass App: Compass

Compass Android app

If you would like a free compass app for Android for camping, off-roading or other activities that might require letting others know where you are, this will fit the bill.

What We Like

  • This compass app uses network or GPS location coordinates to calculate true north.
  • It supports magnetic north and shows the magnetic field strength so that you can check for any interference.
  • You can copy, share and view your coordinates in a map.

 

 

What We Don't Like

  • Not available for iOS devices.
  • If you hold your phone in landscape mode, you are unable to see all of the icons or view directions to calibrate the compass.
  • The app requires frequent recalibration.

Get Compass on Google Play Store.

02
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Best for Off-Road: Smart Compass

Smart Compass App

This Android app is part of the Smart Tools apps collection, which also offers helpful apps such as a metal detector, a level and a distance measuring app.

What We Like

  • This compass app for Android features telescope, night, digital and Google Maps modes, with both street map and satellite maps available in the latter. 
  • Standard mode uses your phone's camera for a real-life view of the direction.
  • The app includes a GPS speedometer as well as a screen capture tool.

 

What We Don't Like

  • Not available for iOS devices.
  • If you don't want ads on the screen, you'll have to upgrade to the premium version.

Get Smart Compass on Google Play Store.

03
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Best for Exploring: Digital Compass

Digital Compass for iPhone

Sometimes, options are nice. This iOS app offers multiple choices that you can use for different outdoor applications. 

What We Like

  • This compass app features 10 different compass options.
  • Along with your location and north orientation, you can use it to access a map and view the direction of your chosen location.
  • The app also provides a drop-down list of several large cities around the world so you can see where they are oriented from your current location. 

 

What We Don't Like

  • Not available for Android devices.
  • If you don't want ads on the screen, you'll have to upgrade to the premium version.

Get Digital Compass - Precise on App Store.

04
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Best for Boating: Compass Steel 3D

Compass Steel 3D app

Don't let the permission request worry you if you install this compass app. It requires access to your location coordinates to calculate correctly; you'll want those handy particularly when you're on a large body of water with your boat.

What We Like

  • As you turn and tilt your phone, this realistic compass appears to move in 3D, as though you were holding a traditional compass in your hand.
  • Both magnetic and true north are available (the app automatically processes the variation) and no internet or phone service is required for the compass to work properly. 

What We Don't Like

  • May require frequent calibration. 
  • Not available for iOS devices.

Get Compass Steel 3D on Google Play Store.

05
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Best Customizable App: Compass 360 Pro Free

Compass 360 app

This free Android app promises to work anywhere in the world, making it ideal for adventuresome globetrotters. 

What We Like

  • Highly customizable with several skins and setup languages from which to choose.
  • You can opt to add a vertical and horizontal line for the appearance of a lensatic compass; view your latitude, longitude and altitude; switch between true north and magnetic north; and add magnetic field levels as a progress bar. 

 

 

 

What We Don't Like

  • Not available for iOS devices.
  • The (free) app contains ads and there is currently no premium ad-free version available. 

Get Compass 360 Pro Free on Google Play Store.

06
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Best for Beginners: Compass Galaxy

Compass Galaxy App

Sometimes you just want a simple app that only provides the basics. This Android compass app is easy to use and does not require unnecessary permissions​. 

What We Like

  • You will receive a notification if it requires calibration, which you can perform by turning the device in a figure 8 gesture.
  •  This app does not use ads and requires minimal phone memory.

What We Don't Like

  • Not available for iOS devices.
  • Requires frequent calibration.

Get Compass Galaxy on Google Play Store.​

07
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Best for Multi-Use: Commander Compass

Commander Compass App

Although the app is not free (it runs about $7), it is chock-full of cool features and tools.

What We Like

  • The app was created in compliance with military specs, letting you use it both in your vehicle and off the road. You can use it to find and even track the sun, moon and stars, bearings or multiple locations, all in real time. 
  • You can overlay compass maps to visualize the direction you are facing and even store locations, from your favorite camping spot to a geocache to where you parked your car at the mall. 

What We Don't Like

  • The app uses a great deal of battery life. 

Get Commander Compass on App Store.

08
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Best for Sight Impaired: Speaking Compass

Speaking Compass App

This audio-enabled compass app is ideal for anyone who is blind or visually impaired.

It might also be a helpful tool for younger kids who are not yet reading.  

What We Like

  • The app repeatedly announces the direction, such as, "East 97" for 97 degrees east or, "Northwest 337" for 337 degrees northwest. 
  • You can switch between a voice with a US or a UK accent, as well.

 

 

 

 

What We Don't Like

  • The repeated announcements come in very quick succession and there is no way to modify this setting.  
  • Not available for iOS devices.

Get Speaking Compass on Google Play Store​.