WristRoute is a standalone Apple Watch GPS app for hiking, biking,
and other outdoor activities. Neither the iPhone nor internet is
needed for field operation.
When first run, WristRoute prompts to enable access to your
location (i.e. use the GPS). Prompts appear on both the Apple
Watch and the iPhone. The permission must be granted on the
If this initial permission is not granted, you can grant the
permission later with iPhone 'Settings... WristRoute... Location...
While Using' the App. Another way to set the permission is iPhone
'Settings... Privacy... Location Services... WristRoute... While
Using the App'.
WristRoute displays your GPS position as a crosshair cursor in
the center of a topographic map.
Zoom the map in and out by turning the digital crown.
The screen width in miles is briefly displayed at the top of the screen.
Scroll the map by dragging the screen with your finger. The scrolled
map will return to the GPS position the next time the screen turns
off for over one second and then turns back on, such as when you
lower and then raise your wrist ("wrist up"), or when the screen
blanks to save power.
GPS reception quality is displayed by up to four small squares at
the upper left of the screen. If GPS reception is good (3 dots or
more, horizontal accuracy 32 meters or better), WristRoute adds a
yellow dot to the map at your position. A new dot is added every 100
feet of motion.
If you scroll the map the GPS reception quality dots are replaced
with N^, reminding you that North is up on the map (even if Settings... North up is off) and letting you know that the current GPS position is not being
displayed. If you
press N^ then the current GPS position will be redisplayed, as if
you had lowered and raised your wrist.
Map images are downloaded from the internet as they are needed. Maps
are stored in a persistent cache for later offline use.
The map displayed is US Topo, the latest topographic map from USGS.
Outside of the continental United States a map based on
OpenStreetMap is used instead. See Settings for more map options.
A direction arrow is
displayed under the cursor. (Note that prior to Apple Watch Series 5 the hardware does not
have a compass, so the software uses successive GPS positions to determine this
heading. Consequently, the arrow is most accurate when your recent
motion is steady.)
Turn off Settings... North up to rotate the map in
the direction of motion, in which case the arrow will always point
The iPhone side of WristRoute is used to transfer GPX (Global
Positioning eXchange) files between your iCloud Drive and the
GPX files contain waypoints, routes, and tracks. You can find GPX
files for many popular routes on the internet. Download the GPX file
to your iCloud drive, then transfer it to the watch. You can also
create GPX files with programs such as Eastridge Technology's
GPX files copied from the watch include all new tracks and
waypoints that were created on the watch since the last GPX file
Pressing the menu symbol at the upper right of the watch screen
displays the main menu.
Scroll down with the Apple Watch digital crown to see all of the
Each of these menu entries will be described in turn.
Trip shows elevation, including gain and loss, distance traveled,
elapsed time, speed over the last 100 feet, and average speed since
the trip began.
Elevation is as reported by the GPS.
Scroll down to reveal the Reset button. This button requires a firm
press to avoid accidental data erasure.
Reset trip only zeroes the trip counters without clearing
Reset trip+track zeroes the trip counters and erases track
history. Track history is used to save a track, see Route/Track
The Route/Track menu is used to save the current trip history as
a new track, or to load a route or track from the GPX file. Routes
and tracks are treated the same, and both are referred to as track
Selecting a track from the scrolling list (or on the map) brings up
a track title page. If the track has a description it appears below
the button area.
New saves track history in a track file.
Track history is accumulated
until is cleared with the Trip... Reset trip+track menu.
To track continuously in the background use Settings... GPS On
rather than GPS Battery Saver.
Map draws the track as a white line on the map, with a the
name of the track in yellow marking the start.
Cache returns to the map screen and animates the route, which
caches all the map images at the current zoom level for later
offline use. The display may pause as images are downloaded.
Rename brings up a screen which allows the track to be
renamed. Note that microphone dictation only works if the iPhone is
in communication with the watch.
Delete deletes the route.
Profile displays an elevation profile of the current track. The
white line cursor shows your position along the track
The profile can be expanded and contracted by turning the digital
crown. You can drag the cursor to check elevations and to scroll the
If the profile is flat then the track may not contain elevation
data. Route3D can add elevation to a track if needed.
The Waypoint menu lists waypoints in the GPX file.
New... saves the current map cursor position as a new
The list is sorted by distance from your current position. To sort
by name, firmly press on screen and select Sort by Name.
Selecting a waypoint from the scrolling list (or on the map) brings
up a waypoint title page. If the waypoint has a description it
appears below the button area, along with latitude, longitude, and,
if recorded, elevation.
Map shows the waypoint on the map screen.
Rename renames the waypoint.
Delete deletes the waypoint.
Heading shows a screen with heading and distance to the
waypoint from the current GPS position, as well as the current
Starting with Apple Watch Series 5 the watch has a hardware compass. The heading arrow is the compass direction.
Prior to Apple Watch Series 5 there is no hardware compass and
the heading arrow is relative to the direction of motion. Heading is determined by
successive GPS locations. This works best when recent motion has
been in a straight line. If heading cannot be determined then the
heading arrow is dimmed.
GPS power has three settings: Off, Battery Saver, and On.
When GPS is Off, no position updates occur. This is useful
when scrolling the map to avoid automatic redisplay of current
position whenever wrist up occurs, or to save battery when in an
area with no GPS coverage, such as a cave, deep canyon, or densely
forested north slope.
With Battery Saver the GPS is powered on from wrist up until
shortly after a stable GPS reading is received. While this saves
battery power, the GPS needs several seconds to stabilize after
being turned on, so the initial GPS readings may be jumpy.
When GPS is On WristRoute continues to track position and
course in the background. GPS power remains on for 4 hours after the
last wrist up. This setting is recommended when recording tracks.
The On setting uses the most battery power. In airplane mode
a 42mm Series 3 Apple Watch can run for about 6 hours on this
setting, and a 44mm Series 4 Apple Watch can run for about 10 hours.
North up if on, map is always displayed with North up.
If off, the map rotates to the current compass heading (Apple Watch Series 5 or later) or GPS course direction of motion (Apple Watch Series 4 or earlier). Be aware that unlike a compass, the direction
of motion does not update if you stand still and spin about.
Overlay enables display of waypoints and tracks on the
Metric displays metric units (m, km) instead of English units (ft, mi).
Map selects the current map display.
No map turns off the map, which saves battery and makes the
display more readable in bright sunlight.
US Topo is the default map for the Continental USA.
Esri Street is a world street map used outside of the
USGS 24K displays USGS Historical Topographic 1:24,000
scale maps. Although older, these hand drawn maps are often more
readable when contours become complex. The first time these maps
are accessed there may be a longer delay than with the other maps.
WristRoute downloads map tiles from the internet as they are needed and
stores them in an internal cache, where they remain until explicitly cleared.
Press firmly to display the Cache Menu. The firm press is to avoid
Clear Cache clears all map data from cache.
Cache Screen displays map screen and begins caching all map
detail levels covered by the visible map extent.
Percent loaded is displayed at upper left, above a thumbnail of
the map image being loaded.
The cache operation can be canceled by pressing the menu button.
The GPS Status screen lists the raw status of the GPS. A course
of -1 indicates an unknown heading, otherwise it is degrees from
North. Timestamp is seconds since starting the GPS Status screen;
a negative value indicates loss of GPS signal.
To save a track do the following:
- Settings... GPS... On
- Trip... Reset at start of track
- Route/Track... New... at end of track
- Settings.. GPS... Off or Battery Saver when done.
Before a trip it is useful to develop a GPX route or to find a
GPX track that you will be following. Add significant waypoints. Load
the GPX file to your iCloud Drive, then use the WristRoute iPhone
app to transfer the file to the WristRoute Apple Watch app. Use
Route/Track... Cache to cache maps for the route at the detail
levels you need. Use Settings... Cache... Cache screen to cache
larger areas where you might need maps.
For overnight hiking trips bring a battery pack to recharge
watch. Turn off Settings... GPS when not tracking. Set both watch
and iPhone to airplane mode (or turn off iPhone) except when doing
iPhone file transfers.
Copyright 2022 Eastridge Technology
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for support
Topographic maps courtesy of USGS.
Esri World Street Map Sources: Esri, HERE, Garmin, USGS, Intermap,
INCREMENT P, NRCan, Esri Japan, METI, Esri China (Hong Kong), Esri
Korea, Esri (Thailand), NGCC, © OpenStreetMap contributors, and the
GIS User Community.
Thank you for using WristRoute.