What causes iPhone compass interference?

When using the iPhone (3GS or later) compass app, you may encounter an error message that says “COMPASS INTERFERENCE: Move away from any interference, or re-calibrate by waving in a figure 8 motion.” It will look like this:

iPhone compass interference

Since the iPhone digital compass works like a magnetic compass, many different things can cause compass interference, including other magnetic fields, other electronics, or other environmental factors. The earbuds of an iPhone can cause interference; using the iPhone compass in close proximity to a laptop computer, an iPad, or another electronic device can cause interference; and using the iPhone compass in close proximity to a magnetic compass can also cause interference. Since a car’s dashboard can have a high number of electronics and magnetic devices inside of it, the iPhone compass may receive interference when set on a dashboard.

To alleviate the problem, simply remove the iPhone compass from the area of the device causing the interference, and wave it in a figure 8 motion, as the error message directs, and it will reset itself. If you are in a car, the compass will likely recalibrate itself as you make a few more turns…so don’t get in a car crash trying to wave it around in a figure 8 motion.

While this information may be annoying to those who would like to use the iPhone compass in their car or while indoors working on a computer…those who use the compass for its outdoor purpose will have better luck. So get out your iPhone compass app and practice in the great outdoors!

What to know more about how to use the iPhone compass app?
Read my article on the About.com Survival Skills website:

“How to Use the iPhone Compass”


One response to “What causes iPhone compass interference?

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