Apple Watch Bands With Magnets May Cause Interference With Compass on Series 5 Models

MacRumors

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Apr 12, 2001
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New to Apple Watch Series 5 models is a built-in compass that allows users to see which way they are facing, complete with a new Compass app that displays heading, incline, latitude, longitude, and current elevation.


In fine print on its website, however, Apple has indicated that Apple Watch bands with magnets "may cause interference" with the compass. This includes the Milanese Loop, Modern Buckle, and Leather Loop. Sport Bands, Sport Loops, Link Bracelets, Nike, and Hermès bands do not contain magnets.

Magnetic interference can affect any compass, so this is not an Apple Watch issue, but something to keep note of while choosing a band.

Update: Apple has published a support document with more information:
The presence of magnets can affect the accuracy of any compass sensor. Apple's Leather Loop, Milanese Loop, and earlier Sport Loop watch bands use magnets or magnetic material that might interfere with the Apple Watch compass. The compass isn't affected by Sport Loop bands introduced in September 2019, or any version of the Sport Band.
Article Link: Apple Watch Bands With Magnets May Cause Interference With Compass on Series 5 Models
 
Last edited:

MiBook84

macrumors regular
Nov 2, 2008
115
46
Malmö, Sweden
Surely it will be able to calibrate around that. My DJI drone calibrates around magnetic interfearance by spinning 360 degrees. So it should be something Apple could do too. After putting it on it should say, interfearance. Spin around in a circle once. Then done. Simple as that!
 

2010mini

macrumors 601
Jun 19, 2013
4,104
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Still having a really hard time thinking of a time that I'd EVER need a compass
Comes in very handy if you travel a lot.
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So one of the two selling points of series 5 is potentially not useable by people if you have the wrong band.

You’re wearing it wrong?
So Apple is bad because cannot change the laws of physics?
 

konqerror

macrumors 6502a
Dec 31, 2013
808
1,502
“I don’t need a compass” ≠ “no one needs a compass”
[doublepost=1568649912][/doublepost]So I guess Apple won’t be able to use stories in one of their inspiring videos about people getting lost and using their Apple Watch’s compass to take them to safety.
The Apple Watch already has a GPS receiver. The inconvenience of having to walk forward to determine your orientation is negligible if you're truly lost.

Surely it will be able to calibrate around that. My DJI drone calibrates around magnetic interfearance by spinning 360 degrees. So it should be something Apple could do too. After putting it on it should say, interfearance. Spin around in a circle once. Then done. Simple as that!
It's a pain when you have to do it every time you use the compass. Remember that stupid figure 8 thing you used to have to do with the iPhone? They ended up replacing it with background calibrations with the GPS and accelerometer.
 

macduke

macrumors G4
Jun 27, 2007
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So one of the two selling points of series 5 is potentially not useable by people if you have the wrong band.

You’re wearing it wrong?
Magnetism is magnetism. What do you want from them? The Apple Watch isn't located far from the band. The magnet on the band needs to be very strong so it stays on the wrist. Most people aren't going to be wearing these fancier bands when they're hiking anyway. I know I always put on a sport band or loop.
 

Spock

macrumors 68000
Jan 6, 2002
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While I am sure that some will find a compass useful, it seems to me like a feature they cheaply added to make the series 5 seem better than the 4. Not that the always on display wasn't a good enough feature on its own.
 

SoN1NjA

macrumors 68000
Feb 3, 2016
1,970
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the pool
Apple: Buy our new Apple Watch Series 5 with a compass and pair it with this beautiful Milanese Loop

Also Apple: That band will cause the compass to not work

Now before someone says that the laws of physics can't be changed, well no ****, but you can't deny the irony ― especially considering the Series 5 doesn't have much going for it
 

unplugme71

macrumors 68030
May 20, 2011
2,749
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Earth
Still having a really hard time thinking of a time that I'd EVER need a compass
I take it you never traveled to an unfamiliar city and used their subway system.

It’s always nice when you pop up to street level, to know which direction your facing.

Sure you can use maps and wait for the GPS to kick in, but it’s easier to just look at your watch and know your heading.
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While I am sure that some will find a compass useful, it seems to me like a feature they cheaply added to make the series 5 seem better than the 4. Not that the always on display wasn't a good enough feature on its own.
This is actually a much needed feature for those who travel for work. And I don’t just mean in the wilderness.
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No one needs a compass
I do and many others as well.
 

Scottsoapbox

macrumors 6502a
Oct 10, 2014
851
3,018
Still having a really hard time thinking of a time that I'd EVER need a compass
Comes in very handy if you travel a lot.
I travel a lot. I have NEVER needed a compass.
[doublepost=1568652931][/doublepost]
I take it you never traveled to an unfamiliar city and used their subway system.

It’s always nice when you pop up to street level, to know which direction your facing.

Sure you can use maps and wait for the GPS to kick in, but it’s easier to just look at your watch and know your heading.
So, for all those times you are unfamiliar with the city, but somehow know what *heading* your destination is from the subway exit, but not say the street name you want.
 

iLLUMI

macrumors 6502a
Aug 1, 2012
510
152
Damn! I was going to buy one with a Milanese loop .... so now I can't I guess.
Good article! Thanks for posting! Saved me making a big mistake.
But then like others have said ... do we really need a compass???
Hasn't GPS superseded the compass?
Compass = old earth magnetic pole tech (non tech?)
GPS = modern satellite tech

If you're hiking/trekking with a map then it would be very useful.
But then GPS shows you exactly where you are.
Maybe both together are useful.

Ahh stuff it. Going to get one with the Milanese loop anyway. Heh heh. :D
 
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testcard

macrumors 68040
Apr 13, 2009
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If you can afford an Apple Watch 5 then you can probably spring for a cheap third party sports band for those days when you need the compass. For me it wouldn’t be a deal breaker.
 

manu chao

macrumors 603
Jul 30, 2003
6,347
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While I am sure that some will find a compass useful, it seems to me like a feature they cheaply added to make the series 5 seem better than the 4.
Sure, and that is why most smartphones also have a compass (or to be precise a magnetometer), because they all needed that one new feature at some point on their sales sheet. [/sarcasm]

A magnetometer is just one more useful sensor (like gyroscopes, accelerometers, barometers, etc.). Where you could be right is about the timing (ie, why did the Watch get a compass this year and not last or next year). Your critique also fails to differentiate between the magnetometer and the Compass app. The magnetometer serves all navigational purposes and is not just there to feed a compass app. And the Compass app gives access to a couple of other useful data (GPS coordinates, elevation, incline).