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Snaptic Compass: Direction With Data Export

Application Name: Compass

Description: Digital compass with geodata export to Catch Notes.

Publisher’s website: Snaptic

Cost: Free

Version/date reviewed: v.2.0  /  10-1-10

Phone/OS: Droid X / Android 2.2

Android market link (mobile app only)
Android Market (browser)

Snaptic’s Compass app is no secret – from the download stats, it appears to be the most popular compass app on the Android Marketplace. And there’s a reason for that – if I could have one only compass on my Android phone, this would be the one.


AnalogAnalog Antique
Simple Digital

Figure 1: With all models except the Simple Digital, you can click and drag on the outer degree ring to get it to line up with the arrow. Simple Digital rotates the ring automatically so that the direction you’re facing is always at the top; this is my preferred compass, though I wish they’d add a North arrow indicator to it as well.

GPS There’s also a “GPS” compass that shows additional info. Additional data includes GPS data like accuracy, elevation and number of visible satellites.

There’s a Settings page accessible using the Menu button. In addition to True/Magnetic North, Settings lets you:

  • Adjust the noise filter to damp out variations in the reading
  • Choose the orientation sensor
  • Set the update rate
  • Whether to display your GPS location and address at top
  • Set units for distance, location and speed
simpledigital All these features by themselves would make Compass a great app to have. But what puts it over the top is the small “Note This Location” tab at the top, below the address/location info. If you have the notetaking app Catch Notes installed on your unit, it will take basic location info and automatically …
compass_note … insert it into a Catch Note. The Settings menu lets you choose up to five different parameters to export: altitude, direction, address, geographic coordinates, and speed; in this example, I’m only doing altitude, direction and coordinates.

This note-export feature is awesome, especially combined with Catch Note’s ability to add a photo to the note. For example, you could determine a direction you want to take a photo in, export that data to a note, then take the photo and have all that data associated with it. If you have photo geotagging turned off for security reasons, this lets you save geo-information for a photo in a more secure way. And all this info, especially location and direction, makes creating a Google Earth PhotoOverlay a snap.


Nothing major.

  • “Magnetic” indicator on the GPS compass display doesn’t change even the compass is set to True North.
  • Additional coordinate systems available as an option would be great (UTM, MGRS, OSGB, etc.)
  • Additional note data export parameters desired: Date/time, GPS accuracy.
  • Calibrate menu listing should start up compass calibration, instead of just showing the pattern you should move the unit in during calibration. Seems to be working now. Given its limited movement pattern, I’d recommend using the unit’s standard calibration procedure, usually found in the Settings menu under location.

Final thoughts:

This is a no-brainer; if you’re using your Android as a geography tool, you have to have both Compass and Catch Notes installed. They’d be a bargain even if you had to pay for them; free, they’re a steal.

10/1/10 – Updated to reflect change of 3banana notes app to Catch Notes.

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9 Responses to “Snaptic Compass: Direction With Data Export”

  1. 1 BillW

    Have you tried “GPS Status”? Its a great app and gives you some of the items on your wish list, although its not as pretty as Snaptic Compass.

  2. 2 leszekp

    Thanks for your comment. GPS Status was on the list of apps to post about in the future. For general GPS display, I prefer GPS Test; it has a “cleaner”-looking display. However, I just noticed that GPS Status has the capability to clear and then re-download Assisted-GPS data, which can speed up GPS satellite acquisition time a lot; that feature alone makes it worthwhile.

  3. 3 BillW

    I’d be interested to hear what you think of assisted GPS. I don’t really understand it and I don’t use it on my Droid X without any seeming ill effects. One thing about the X I don’t like though is that it won’t acquire a GPS signal without a cell signal, whereas my BlackBerry Storm 2 would.

  4. 4 leszekp

    In assisted GPS, your Droid X uses proximity to a cell tower to get a rough location, and then gets info about what satellites are visible in the sky. This helps speed up position acquisition, as otherwise the Droid has to get that info from the satellite signals themselves, which can be a slow process. So it’s probably best to leave it turned on.

    My X gets a GPS position without a cell signal; wouldn’t have bought it if it didn’t.

  5. 5 BillW

    > My X gets a GPS position without a cell signal; wouldn’t have bought it if it didn’t.
    Wow really? I’ve tested this numerous times without success and am following a comprehensive thread on it here which is inconclusive:

    How do you set the X up to get a GPS lock in airplane mode?

  6. 6 leszekp

    Figures that as soon as someone asked me, I’d have problems doing so – my Droid X was unable to pick up more than two GPS satellites, and couldn’t get a position, no matter how long I waited. Fixed it by going into Recovery mode, then clearing out the data cache. Now I have no problem getting a GPS fix in any mode again, including Airplane Mode.

  7. 7 BillW

    How do I go into recovery mode?

  8. 8 BillW

    I just tried it again – went outside, got a fix in GPS Status with Airplane mode off. Turned Airplane mode on, went into GPS status right away, and got a fix. Turned GPS Status off, waited a couple of minutes, went back in, and could not get a fix. Are you getting a fix after a couple of minutes in Airplane mode?

  9. 9 leszekp

    I’ll have a post on some of these topics next week. But the short answer is, you’re right and I’ve been wrong. I had the same experience you describe, where it works right away in Airplane Mode, but doesn’t work after a few minutes. I’ll be testing it today in a location with zero cell reception to see if that makes a difference with Airplane Mode off. I’ve also sent an email to Motorola tech support about the issue, to see if they have any response.

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