How to Use Waypoints and Backtrack on an Apple Watch

Man with Apple Watch in the rain

With the compass app on your Apple Watch, you can create waypoints and use the backtrack function. As a complication, you can also add waypoints to your watch face. This feature is available for Apple Watch Series 6 and newer devices running at least watchOS 9.

Find your way back to places, retrace your steps, or set a bearing and follow it with Apple’s redesigned Compass app in watchOS 9. Learn how waypoints and backtrack work and what you need to use these functions.

For Apple Watch Series 6 and later

Apple Watch Ultra

Apple has redesigned the Compass app for watchOS 9. The company has added new compass views and two new features, waypoints and backtrack. Apple first showed off these features on the top-of-the-line Apple Watch Ultra, but you can use them on the more basic models as well.

To access the full range of features, you need an Apple Watch Series 6, Apple Watch SE (first and second generation), or Apple Watch Ultra with watchOS 9. If you have an older Apple Watch, you’ll need a new Apple Watch to purchase that supports these functions.

Make sure you’re running the latest version of watchOS by opening the Watch app on your iPhone, then navigating (on the My Watch tab) to General > Software Update.

The Apple Watch Series 5 was the first Apple wearable to have a compass sensor in it, but Series 5 owners will miss Waypoint and Backtrack (although the Series 5 is compatible with watchOS 9).

Apple warns that the compass sensor in all models can be affected by magnetic interference, especially when used with some bands that rely on magnets. These include Apple’s Pre-2019 Leather Link, Leather Loop, Milanese Loop, and Sport Loop. Note that third-party watch straps may also use magnets.

Read  How to delete apps on a MacBook in 3 steps

Set waypoints on your Apple Watch

To set a waypoint on your Apple Watch, launch the Compass app, then tap the “Waypoint” icon in the lower-left corner of the screen.

Tap the Label field to give the location a name, then scroll down and select a color and icon. At the very bottom of the screen you can also toggle the “Show waypoint” option to hide or show the location on your compass face.

Mark a waypoint in the Apple Watch compass app

If you have “Show waypoint” enabled, the location is now shown on the compass wheel. You can scroll the Digital Crown while viewing the compass to change the view and get a better view.

Note: Waypoints you create will appear on the compass wheel as long as you are within 50 miles.

You can also find your waypoints listed in the compass menu, accessed via the button in the top left corner of the screen. Tap on a waypoint to edit its label, color or icon. Swipe left on a waypoint, then tap “X” to delete it.

Delete the waypoint on the Apple Watch

If you have an Apple Watch Ultra, you can also use the action button (on the left side of the device) to set waypoints. To do this, go to Settings > Action button on your Apple Watch and select “Waypoint” from the list that appears.

Add waypoints to your watch face

Once you create a waypoint, you can place it on an Apple Watch face as a complication. When you do this, a small pointer will guide you to your waypoint when you look at the face of your Apple Watch. You can also do this with the waypoint that is automatically created for your parked car in the Maps app.

TIED TOGETHER: How to add complications to your watch face on Apple Watch

You can add this complication like any other. Launch the Watch app on your iPhone, then tap (on the My Watch tab) your current watch face. Scroll down to the Complications section and swap an existing complication (or space) for a Compass – Waypoint instead.

Read  How to identify autism spectrum disorder in adults

Customize watch complication with iPhone

You can also do this on your watch by tapping and holding your current watch face, tapping Edit next to the watch face you want to change, then swiping left to access Complications. Tap on a slot and select Compass – Waypoint to add it.

Edit the dial complication on the watch

The real benefit here is no longer having to open the compass app to be guided to a waypoint. It’s also handy if you always forget where you parked, as all you have to do is raise your wrist and glance at your watch to remember it.

Use Backtrack to retrace your steps

Backtrack is a feature that records your route so you can easily return to your starting point. The feature isn’t always active, but Apple indicated in the feature that Backtrack might turn on automatically when you’re off-grid (away from Wi-Fi and known locations).

To start manually tracing your route, open the Compass app, then tap the backtrack icon (looks like footprints) in the bottom-right corner of the screen. The button changes to a “pause” icon to indicate that Backtrack is running.

Tap that icon again, then choose from the options that appear to Retrace Steps or Delete Steps.

Launch Backtrack on the Apple Watch

If you want to retrace your steps, the compass wheel shows your route. You can also launch Backtrack by holding the side button on your Apple Watch and moving the Compass Backtrack slider to the right.

Your Apple Watch can automatically record route data when you are disconnected from the network. To try accessing this data, tap the backtrack icon to see if you’re prompted to use historical location data.

Read  Project aims to gain information about how to care for caregivers in Nova Scotia

How to set your bearing in the compass app

You can also set a compass bearing on your Apple Watch, which is measured in degrees. As you do so, you will see additional information on the compass wheel, directing you in a specific direction of your choosing. The bearing always points in the same direction until you clear or change it.

To do this, launch the Compass app and tap the menu button in the top-left corner of the screen. Scroll down to the Bearing field and tap on it. Then use the Digital Crown to set your bearing in degrees.

Tap Done and your bearing will appear on the compass wheel and will be highlighted in red.

Set the direction on the Apple Watch

To undo this, go back to the Bearing field and tap Clear Bearing to clear.

More neat compass features

In addition to waypoints, backtrack, and the ability to set a bearing, watchOS 9 introduced some new compass views. Turn the Digital Crown to view a variety of information, including a simplified angle view, detailed information about your altitude and coordinates, and various “radar” views for tracking waypoints.

Apple Watch Compass Views

You can also tap the “Menu” button in the top left corner of the Compass app to view detailed information about your current location.

Fixed a “Red Spinning Radar” bug

If you see a red spinning radar animation instead of the compass face when using the Compass app on your Apple Watch, magnetic interference is likely to blame. Try moving away from your current position or removing the watch strap to see if this is the cause.

If you’re still having no luck, check the paired iPhone’s settings to ensure location services are enabled under Settings > Privacy & security.

You should also check that compass calibration is enabled in Settings > Privacy & security > Location Services > System Services and that “When using the app” is enabled in Settings > Privacy & security > Location Services > Compass.

Ideal for outdoor activities

The Apple Watch can help encourage an active lifestyle. And the Compass app is great for hikers looking for a smartwatch. If you’re looking for a new wearable, consider the Apple Watch Ultra if you can stomach the size and price.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button