Lost and Found: Backtrack feature in Apple watches


Express News Service

Po Hansel and Gretel’s story would have been so different had the birds not eaten away the breadcrumbs little Hansel left as a trail back to his home from the woods in the German fairytale.

Now, Apple is rewriting the classic by adding a redesigned Backtrack feature—creating a virtual breadcrumb trail—that could have helped the boy track the route back to his home. The tech giant has made getting lost so 2021.

On September 7, the brand announced the redesigned feature while launching the Apple Watch Ultra, a time-teller inspired by the most extreme activities. The Backtrack feature in the Compass App uses GPS data to create a path showing where the user has been. It can also turn on automatically in the background when off the grid. 

By pressing the Action button, users can quickly drop a Compass Waypoint, and start or view a Backtrack. An 86-decibel siren (the recommended exposure limit for human hearing and as loud as a traffic junction with heavy traffic) designed for emergencies gets activated if the user gets lost or injured and repeats for several hours till turned off.

The siren has two sound patterns: the first is a distress sound while the second mimics the universally recognised SOS pattern. Backtrack is targeted for remote settings and areas without internet connectivity or wi-fi.

The revamped Compass app offers in-depth information and three kinds of views, including a hybrid view that shows an analogue compass dial and a digital view simultaneously. Users have to turn the Digital Crown (the rotating button on the side of the Apple Watch), which shows the latitude, longitude, elevation and incline, as well as an orientation showing Compass Waypoints and Backtrack.

How to use: 

  • Click on the Compass app on the watch
  •  Tap the footprints icon and press Start to begin recording your route
  •  Tap Allow Once for the app to access your recent locations. When you’re ready to retrace your steps, tap the pause icon at the bottom-right of the screen, then tap Retrace Steps.
  •  Your starting location will appear on the compass, and an arrow will point you in the right direction. The path back to the starting point will appear as a white path. Follow the path to return to where you first turned on Backtrack. 
  • The latest features are compatible with Apple Watch Ultra, Apple Watch SE, and Apple Watch Series. The watch, now available in India, costs Rs 89,000 upwards. 

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