Reported iOS 9 compass/gyroscope bug affects iPhone 6s augmented reality apps [u]

Posted:
in iPhone edited September 2015
A potential bug discovered in Apple's latest iOS 9 release appears to be impacting certain apps running on iPhone 6s that tap into compass and gyroscope data, in some cases affecting key assets that render some features unusable.




AppleInsider reader Frank experienced the problem first hand with popular stargazing app Sky Guide, which relies on iPhone's advanced sensor suite to power an augmented reality function that transforms the device into an interactive map of the night sky. Under normal conditions, users point their iPhone up toward the sky to see an onscreen view of stars, planets, constellations and more, but on iPhone 6s running iOS 9 -- including the latest iOS 9.0.1 update -- the map drifts uncontrollably.

Developer Fifth Star Labs confirmed issues affecting Sky Guide's "Compass" feature are limited to iPhone 6s and do not extend to older hardware. Other augmented reality titles relying on data generated by iPhone's digital compass, three-axis gyroscope and accelerometer are also seeing problems, but certain apps like Apple Maps function correctly, suggesting the issue lies in a faulty iOS API. Fifth Star Labs is currently working on a fix.

Apple faced similar sensor difficulties in 2013 when iPhone 5s owners reported faulty readings from iOS 7's Compass app. At the time, some assessments claimed Apple failed to properly employ an appropriate firmware calibration bias when it switched from accelerometer supplier STMicroelectronics to Bosch.

Extremely sensitive components like those employed in iPhone are notoriously difficult to integrate due to wide ranging hardware variance and bias specifications that differ by type and manufacturer. A seemingly minor discrepancy might result in pronounced deviations for apps tapping into iPhone's data feed.

According to iPhone 6s and 6s Plus teardowns, the handsets use the same InvenSense 6-axis gyroscope/accelerometer chip and Bosch Sensortec 3-axis accelerometer module found in last year's iPhone 6 lineup. Upgraded from last year is the M9 motion coprocessor, now embedded in Apple's A9 SoC, which acts as a data hub for iPhone's various sensors, including the accelerometer, compass, gyroscope and barometer.

Update: Sky Guide has been updated with a workaround for the Compass feature issue.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 22
    nasseraenasserae Posts: 3,146member
    I noticed this yesterday with the same app. Tried Maps and the compass worked fine.
  • Reply 2 of 22
    This might be what is causing the jerkiness when I use the Maps app when driving and it's just tracking my location. Noticed it on the iPhone6S Plus on the weekend. Looks to only update the screen once a second rather than how it used to be smooth.
  • Reply 3 of 22
    g-newsg-news Posts: 1,103member

    I'm not sure it's just the 6s. My 5 told me the blood moon was at least 35° elsewhere than it really was.

  • Reply 4 of 22
    Wait a second.... how does this:

    ...but certain apps like Apple Maps function correctly, [B][I]suggesting the issue lies in a faulty iOS API. [/I][/B]

    ...allow this?

    [B][I]Fifth Star Labs is currently working on a fix. [/I][/B]

    Either it's an iOS API bug and Apple is tasked at fixing it

    OR

    the developer needs to go back and integrate what is in the iOS API and then fix his/her app.

    No developer can FIX Apple's API's for them... AFAIK.
  • Reply 5 of 22
    Tried to use Sky Guide last night but it kept drifting to the north no matter what direction I was facing. Star Walk and Star Walk 2 performed flawlessly for me. Unfortunately we had clouds and rain so I missed the eclipse anyway.
  • Reply 6 of 22
    gyro-gate.
  • Reply 7 of 22
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by BadMonk View Post



    gyro-gate.



    ?

    does it come with a side of fries? :)

  • Reply 8 of 22
    Same issue iPhone 6s. Star Walk 2 not drifting as Sky Guide does, but the compass reading is off by 90-100 degrees.
  • Reply 9 of 22
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,192member

    So, if some apps work and some apps don't, doesn't it mean it's the app developers fault?

  • Reply 10 of 22
    matrix07matrix07 Posts: 1,993member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by razorpit View Post



    Tried to use Sky Guide last night but it kept drifting to the north no matter what direction I was facing. Star Walk and Star Walk 2 performed flawlessly for me. Unfortunately we had clouds and rain so I missed the eclipse anyway.



    Are you using 6s?

  • Reply 11 of 22
    It sounds like there is more investigation that needs to be done to complete this article.
  • Reply 12 of 22
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 4,709member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by BadMonk View Post



    gyro-gate.



    Yep. Can’t wait for the YouTube videos.

  • Reply 13 of 22
    Whoops... Bad weekend for that with the Eclipse... I was frustrated when I was trying to show off my new phone with those apps last night and had this issue.
  • Reply 14 of 22
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by matt45 View Post

    ?

    does it come with a side of fries? :)


     

    Falafel

  • Reply 15 of 22

    I have a 6s Plus and wonder if this is related to the Home screen rotation lock issue I'm having. Sometimes when I wake up the device it wakes up in landscape mode and won't rotate back to portrait mode. It's not just the device, iOS 9.0.1 on an iPhone 6 Plus did the same thing.

  • Reply 16 of 22
    i used phone doctor by cheng calvin , smart phone doctor to test the compass, and it failed, the needle could not move more then 10 or 20 degrees on the diagnostic test. but apple's own compass app works fine
  • Reply 17 of 22
    tzeshantzeshan Posts: 1,291member

    Apple is getting worse.  The Stock app in iOS 9 no longer works as before.  Some functionality is not working.  

  • Reply 18 of 22

    I had issues using Sky Guide last night. Apparently the moon rises from the west now. Star Walk 2 worked fine. 

  • Reply 19 of 22
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by matrix07 View Post

     



    Are you using 6s?




    6S Plus.

  • Reply 20 of 22
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mike1 View Post

     

    So, if some apps work and some apps don't, doesn't it mean it's the app developers fault?


     

    It could be, but it is also possible the API has several ways to access the gyro and only some of them cause the issue. Or, certain apps might be more demanding of the gyro. That this bug seems to only effect certain models of phone seems to indicate that there is a fault in the hardware or the system software.

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