This article provides an overview of Gaia GPS's location features.
You will learn how to locate and orient yourself with the app.
- Using Locate Icons to find your current location.
- Understanding Compass Mode and Course Mode.
- Enabling Map Rotation and viewing the Compass Icon.
- Turning on and reading the Compass.
Learn how to display your current location with the locate icons.
The main locate icon looks like this:
Find it in the center of the top toolbar:
Tap the locate icon to center the map on your current location.
The arrow icon now marks your position on the map. (also called "Map Arrow")
Note - In iOS, tapping the locate icon may also zoom in on your location, depending on the map's previous center and zoom level.
The locate icon takes one of three states. Tap the location icon state to rotate through navigation modes.
|Icon||Icon State||Navigation Mode|
|green arrow + viewshed||Course|
Explore the differences between Off, Compass, and Course modes.
Here is a side-by-side comparison of the three navigation modes on iOS.
|Off||Compass Mode||Course Mode|
This is the default navigation mode.
In off mode:
- remains stationary by default; drag to pan, pinch to zoom.
- orients north-up. (see map rotation)
- changes position as you move.
- rotates as you rotate your device; points in the compass direction. (iOS exception)
Tapping the locate icon once enables Compass Mode.
Rotating your phone in compass mode rotates the arrow, pointing it to what you see on the ground.
In compass mode:
- remains centered as you move.
- rotates as you rotate your device; points in compass direction. (iOS exception)
Tapping the locate icon a second time enables Course Mode.
Rotating your phone in course mode rotates the map, mirroring what you see on the ground.
In course mode:
- pans automatically to keep your location centered.
- rotates as you rotate your device; reflects your viewshed.
- remains centered as you move.
- does not rotate as you rotate your device; up-orientated.
Find Yourself in Relation to a Location on the Map
On iOS, when you tap the map, a drawer will appear at the bottom of the screen showing your distance and your bearing in relation to the marked location on the map.
Learn how to turn on Map Rotation to manually change the map's orientation.
If you would like to override north-up map displays, enable Map Rotation:
- iOS - Gaia GPS > Settings > Map Controls > toggle Allow Rotation to ON
- Android - Gaia GPS > Settings > Map Controls > toggle Map rotation to ON
Use two fingers to rotate maps to your desired orientation.
Rotating the map triggers the compass icon to appear in the top right corner.
The compass icon's red arrow points toward north on the map.
(The compass bar displays your device's orientation.)
In this example,
|(also appears in course mode)|
Tapping the compass icon restores the north-up map display and removes the icon.
Learn how to turn on and read the compass bar.
To toggle compass bar visibility:
The compass always indicates your device's orientation, regardless of the map's display.
Rotate your device to update the compass. The number displayed under the centerline is the direction (in degrees from 0-360) the top of your device is facing. Capital letters (N, S, E, W) represent the cardinal directions (North, South, East, West).
In this example, both devices are facing just about 90°, or due East.
Android Compass Settings
The Android version of Gaia GPS allows you to toggle the compass between True North and Magnetic North. Access this settings here: Gaia GPS > Settings > Compass
iOS Compass Settings
The iOS version of Gaia GPS allows additional compass settings configuration.
Access these settings here: Gaia GPS > Settings > Compass
Everything described in this article works as expected when Map Arrow = Compass.
When Map Arrow = Course, the arrow icon will rotate as usual at low speeds.
However, if you reach speeds of more than ~5 mph, the arrow icon will not rotate instantaneously. Instead, the app calculates a direction of travel to point the arrow, updating the icon less frequently.
Note - There is one exceptional case where the arrow icon does not rotate, even in compass mode. This occurs when:
- Compass = OFF -AND- Map Arrow = Course