How to use the Backtrack feature on Apple Watch
If you're hiking or exploring an area without WiFi or cellular connectivity, you can still rely on your Apple Watch to find your way back to your starting point with Backtrack. Backtrack is a feature in the Compass app that tracks your route from your starting location and shows you the exact direction to get back to that location.
Here's how to set up and use Backtrack to make sure you stay on track when Backtrack starts cycling, running, or walking.
How to start tracking your route on Apple Watch
To use the Backtrack feature, you will have to activate it before you start cycling or walking. It will then run in the background, saving your route until you enter Retrace Steps mode.
The following Apple Watch models support Backtrack in the Compass app:
- Apple Watch Series 6 or later
- Apple Watch SE
- Apple Watch Ultra and Apple Watch Ultra 2
To activate Backtrack and start tracking your route, simply open the Compass app and tap the footprint button. Then enjoy your walk knowing that your starting location and route along the way are being saved by your Apple Watch.
Note : Backtrack does not require a mobile network or WiFi Internet connection. It relies on Apple Watch GPS to track and store your location. Your Apple Watch also doesn't need to be connected to your iPhone.
Retrace your route using the Backtrack feature
When it's time to return, enter Retrace Steps mode and follow the helpful instructions on your watch.
Here's how to stop tracking your route and start retracing your steps from the beginning:
- In the Compass app (with Backtrack enabled), tap the pause button.
- Then, select Retrace Steps .
- Look for the white arrow on the Compass; it shows the direction you should go. (You'll also see your previous route as a gray line if you're close to it.)
- Follow the arrow until you get closer to your destination. The arrow will then disappear and you will see your starting point as a gray dot along the previous route.
Limitations of the Backtrack feature on watchOS 10
While the Apple Watch can point you in the right direction and help you get back to your starting point, the Backtrack feature lacks some important details you'd find on satellite or topographic maps. For example, Backtrack doesn't show you information about elevation, landscape features (such as hills or cliffs), or other environmental objects, such as rivers.
That means you'll only know which direction to go, not what you might encounter along the way.
Warning : Before relying on this feature or any app on your iPhone or Apple Watch for navigation, make sure your device's battery is sufficiently charged.
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