iOS 7 Compass: On the Level

| TMO Quick Tip

The built-in compass feature in iOS isn't anything new, but in iOS 7 it does have a handy new feature: a digital level. The level is great for doing exactly what its name implies, and it'll help you take more accurate compass readings, too.

iOS 7's Compass app includes a built-in level for more accurate direction readingsiOS 7's Compass app includes a built-in level for more accurate direction readings

iOS 7's digital level isn't a feature you need to enable. It's just there and ready to use whenever the compass app is active. The level is a very welcome addition for anyone that's using the iPhone's digital compass for navigation because it's much easier to get accurate direction readings when you know your compass really is level.

To make sure your iPhone is level when using the compass, just line up the crosshairs at the center of the compass display.

The built-in level also lets you take slope readingsThe built-in level also lets you take slope readings

You can also turn your iPhone into a digital level by swiping from right to left in the Compass app. The digital level shows the slop in degrees, and the interface spins to always show you where the high end of the slope. Perfectly level surfaces show a green background instead of black so it's easy to tell when you aren't working with a slope at all.

The digital level isn't perfect. We tried checking just how level a desk surface was with two different iPhones set in the same place and one said we were perfectly level while the other showed a slight slope. Still, it's a handy tool in a pinch.

Popular TMO Stories


Lee Dronick

Jeff, were the two iPhones you tried in cases? If so they might be skewing the phone. Also look for piece of small grit on the surface or the phone.

John Dingler, artist

With Al Qaeda’s use of the iOS 7’s leveling app to level its mortars against the secular Assad, and with the US’s use of E-MC2 to drop nuke WMDs on Japan, it reminds that humanity can misuse its most wonderful ideas.


You can also put the iPhone (or iPad I presume) on one of it’s sides to use a linear level.

But coolest of all (for a guy in the building profession) is that you can tap the screen to temporarily set a new level. Tap it again and it is forgotten.

Maybe its my product red case, but I have an 11 degree slope on my desk with the phone right-side-up and a 5 degree slope with it up-side-down. This is with if lying flat on the surface.


Is this on iOS 7 across all platforms, ‘cause I can’t find it on my iPad mini.


Wifi iPads don’t have gps and thus no compass app. I’m not sure about cell-data enabled iPads.


I guess not, then.  I do have Verizon on mine, but no Compass app. I’m still curious though, because I’ve seen that picture of a Syrian rebel (presumably) using Compass on an iPad to level his homemade mortar.

Log in to comment (TMO, Twitter or Facebook) or Register for a TMO account