A compass is a relic of the past in times where GPS seems to be all-present, right? Wrong. While you may use GPS for a lot of things, it requires that your phone, tablet or other type of electronic device is connected to a network to retrieve data about its position. If there is no network to get the data from, for instance if you just crashed with a plane in Antarctica or the Brazilian rain forest, you may need other means of orientation and a compass is one of them.
It is a navigational instrument that will tell you which direction you are currently facing, and direction in this case means north, east, south or west.
Most modern smartphones have so called magnetometers built into them for that purpose. They are not a new invention by any mean, with the first one being attributed to German mathematician and scientist Gauss in 1833. Some compasses display directions in degrees with 0° referring to North, 90° to East, 180° to South and 270° to West.
Holo Compass is an application for Android that adds abilities to use the phone as a compass to the device. It may use a somewhat strange looking interpretation of a compass but it all makes sense once you look at its interface in detail.
The marking in degree that is showing up in the middle highlights the direction you are heading at that moment in time. The 69° for instance tells you that you are heading east more or less which is also indicated by the blue E icon at the bottom. If you would turn north, you'd notice that N and E become available and then finally only N indicating that you are now facing North. The black marker highlights the direction you are facing as well.
The app is compatible with all versions of Android from 2.2 on.
What I like about Holo Compass is that it does not require any rights to run on the phone. I checked up other compass applications for Android and all of them seem to require at least some rights to run. If there is anything I wish the app to include, it would be an option to lock a desired direction in to receive warnings if you wander astray.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.