iOS Apps – Gyrocompass 3D – My Thoughts

If like myself you are one of the (many) people who has an iPod (and not necessarily an iPhone or iPad) then you will most likely have come to realise that it’s quite different.

Aside from the obvious things like price, shape, size and weight there are a few more hidden things like some functionality, software and perhaps the most hidden of all some hardware.

For some features to be missing on the iPod is quite excusable, it’s a fraction the price of an iPhone or iPad, things like the ability to make calls and 3G are quite acceptable. The lack of GPS or Siri are annoying but you forgive… but the lack of compass hardware is perhaps one you hadn’t noticed.

The iPod has been like this from the start, omitting things that you would otherwise have expected, a mic for instance, and even a camera on early models. These are now common on all iPods but even if you have one as new as the 4th Generation it won’t have a compass.

Now being a man of the digital age I often carry my iPod with me, my pocketware consisting of keys, wallet, phone and iPod. And when a suitable moment arises I get to state ‘There’s an app for that!’ and with much glee almost anything I wold normally needed to carry (a camera for instance, map, pocket watch……) I can download (only with wi-fi though!) and ‘streamline’ my life.

But when the moment arose for a compass it was not to be. Sure there are plenty of apps that allow you to have a compass, but without the hardware on the iPod they simply won’t work.

Now, I have a recurring problem whereby whenever I get off the underground in a part of London I don’t know well (often on a business trip) I’m horribly disorientated (I have been underground after all!) and while everyone else, obviously a seasoned Londoner and Underground user briskly runs off to do whatever they’re doing, I’m left scratching my head. Where do I start!?

I need a compass!! Oh wait… There is one solution though. The guys at Vito Technology have noticed this problem and developed a crafty work around. Using the same tech found in the Star Walk app along with some other incidental data (time of day, your location on Earth, etc..) the app asks you to plot the sun on the augmented display (using the camera and your screen) and it gives you a working 3D compass

Sounds great and it works, if you can find the sun….

Couple of issues… Firstly looking at the sun, or for it, is never fun, especially if, like me you suffer from ‘having-the-sun-go-up-my-nose-makes-me-sneeze-itus’.

Secondly you have to re-plot every time you launch the app. Fine, but if it’s overcast or you’re in an area with tall, close buildings (Like er… London!) you’ll have trouble.

And thirdly, I struggle to read the road signs when I disembark thanks to veteran Undergrounders running off l, let alone standing in a torrent of several hundred people, looking like a lemon, because I’m in a sneezing fit and trying to use my iPod like a Sextant!

It’s a good effort Vito Tech and a pretty good gimmick, but only works in an ideal situation. By all means get it, it’s free too, so not like you’re losing anything, plus it’s kind of fun, but I think those of us that do need a compass should either carry one or wait till the iPod, much like the camera and mic, simply gets one.

Or you could get an iPhone. I wonder if that’s the idea……


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