Application Name: Urban Scout

Description: Displays large compass view along with Google Maps display

Publisher’s website: Cogi Systems

Cost: Free

Version/date reviewed: v.1.9  /  3-25-11

Phone/OS: Droid X / Android 2.2


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

Lots of apps have a large compass display, invariably filling the whole screen (like the excellent Compass app). Other apps can show your general compass direction, sometimes with a small position arrow pointing the same way as your phone (e.g. the standard Google Maps app). Urban Scout is a simple app that combines the two: half the screen shows a large, standard compass (with numerical heading display), while the other half shows a Google Maps view.


You have the choice of either a Google Map satellite hybrid view (with roads labeled), or the standard Google Maps roads-only display. The compass at the top shows true north, not magnetic; wish all app makers defaulted to that. Your phone’s GPS will fire up automatically, locating you on the map. The red triangle position marker will be pointed in the same direction your phone is facing, with the faint yellow circle overlay showing the uncertainty in position.


From the menu, you can mark a single position with a blue dot; mark a new position, and the previous marked position disappears. No other functions, like navigation, but it will remember the marked position. You can scroll the map to a different location, but it will slowly scroll back center your current position in the map display. Standard zoom controls (pinch to zoom where supported, otherwise +/- buttons that appear when you tap on the map.


Not a lot in terms of options from Menu/Settings. Toggle between the Satellite Hybrid and Maps mode, and set the default; mark your location; set units (English or metric); turn off the coordinate display bar in between the compass and map to show more of the map (as above).

Other issues: Wish it showed decimal degrees for latitude/longitude; I hate degrees/minutes/seconds.

Final thoughts: Simple limited app, but does the job. I like using it to get a rough feeling for which direction from my current location a landmark lies. One could always wish for additional functions (waypoint marking, navigation), but you can always get those from other apps.

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