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.




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.

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
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 …
… 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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