How do you use the compass and Backtrack feature on your Apple Watch?

Apple has added a lot of new features to its latest Apple Watch Ultra, and the new features included a redesign of the Compass app in watchOS 9 to include waypoints, points of interest and also Backtrack features, and the ability to track your steps using your watch’s GPS.

According to a report published by The Verge, which specializes in tech news, waypoints and backtracks are not limited to Ultra, as anyone with an Apple Watch Series 6 or later can take advantage of these features, and this includes both generations of Apple Watch SE, however, owners get Ultra gets some extra perks.

Among the features that Ultra owners have additionally over the other versions are, for example, an exclusive Wayfinder screen interface that puts the Compass app front and center, and you can also use the action button as a shortcut to drop track points on the fly.

And no matter what model of Apple Watch you have, Compass Waypoints and Backtrack can be useful tools for the uninitiated too, as waypoints can easily mark places of interest when exploring a city or serve as a reminder of where you parked your car for example. For remote areas without Wi-Fi, there’s no stopping you from using it anywhere you want.

Before you begin, you need to check two things, first, make sure that you have updated to watchOS 9, secondly, you have to check that you have not deleted the original Compass app from your iPhone, if you have, you will have to re-download it for it to appear on Apple Watch.

Create waypoints

You have several ways to generate the coordinates. The fastest way is through the Compass app.

Set points in the compass app – photo from The Verge

Open the Compass app and tap the Waypoint icon. In the lower left corner, the icon is a small arrow in a bubble.

You will then see the naming section with the suggested name, if you wish, you can click to edit the name to something convenient or easy to remember.

Scroll down and you will see the Color and Icon sections. These are optional, but you can customize the colors and icons to distinguish multiple waypoints at a glance.

Click Done.

Ultra owners can also create route points using the action button. But first, you will have to program the Action button to open a waypoint action.

Go to Settings, then tap the Action button.

Tap Action, then select the waypoint.

Click on the action button.

Follow the above steps.

Navigate to coordinates

Once you have created the coordinates, you can use Compass to navigate to them from your current location.

Compass coordinates – image from The Verge

To go to a waypoint, tap any waypoint you see on the compass screen to bring up a complete list, it will appear as colored dots, if you can’t see any, scroll the digital crown to zoom in or out.

Select the waypoint you want.

You will then see the distance and direction to reach the waypoint.

If you want to view the exact location of the waypoint, you can click on the bottom of the screen to bring up the map and the coordinates.

You can also click the pencil icon in the lower right corner to edit a waypoint.

For easier access, you can create a complication on the watch face. Here’s how to do it.

Touch and hold the wallpaper of the current watch. Click the Edit button when it appears.

Scroll all the way left to get to the intricacies screen.

Tap on one of the available complications and go to the compass path points.

You can then either choose one of the first three track points listed or click More to get the full list. The full list includes “Last Viewed Route Point” and “Parked Car Route Point” as well as any of the coordinates you created.

Press the Digital Crown to finish.

From here, you can click Add Compass Waypoint from the watch screen to go to the waypoint you selected.

Use undo to track steps

Backtrack creates a virtual navigation path that helps you “get back where you are”, which uses the GPS of your watch and is intended to be used when you’re exploring unfamiliar locations where you might not have a good signal.

Using Backtrack Feature – Image from The Verge

Apple also says that Backtrack will start automatically, at least on the Ultra, as soon as it detects you’ve left a Wi-Fi-rich area in case you need it.

How to use Backtrack

Open Compass and tap the fingerprint icon in the lower right corner at the beginning of your hike, walk or explore, and you may have to grant access to the recent sites.

Click Start.

The fingerprint icon will turn into a pause button once the recording has started successfully.

When you’re ready to go back, tap the pause button, then tap Retrace Steps.

Follow the white path back. The location where you first clicked the fingerprint icon will be your destination.

When done, tap on the fingerprint icon again and tap on Delete Steps.

How to use Backtrack with the Action button Open the Settings app and select the Action button.

Tap Action and select Undo.

Press the Action button when you want to start backtracking, and you can press the Action button and either the Digital Crown or Side Button at the same time to pause the recording.

Follow the remaining steps from the section above.

You can also access Backtrack from the emergency menu with the following steps Press and hold the side button.

When the emergency menu appears, locate the Compass Backtrack slider.

Slide the Compass Backtrack slider to start backtracking.

Follow the appropriate steps from the first section.

Both Compass Waypoints and Backtrack have a bit of a learning curve as far as the right steps are concerned, if you’re thinking of relying on these features before hiking in a remote area, make sure you practice them beforehand, so you don’t fall into an unexpected crisis.

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