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I have noticed that the "direction cone" in the Maps app sometimes changes its acuteness: sometimes it will get wider or narrower. The cone seems to represent some sort of accuracy/confidence. I'm particularly interested in what factors (environmental?) alter it.

What causes this? (or am I just imagining that it changes at all?)

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Wouldn't that depend on whether you move in a more-or-less straight line or make a lot of turns? If you are moving slowly, it may also be harder to estimate your direction of travel, so I would expect the cone to be wider. This is just a guess. –  Harald Hanche-Olsen Jul 25 '12 at 11:10
    
Questions about beta software are off-topic as per the FAQ. –  Gerry Jul 25 '12 at 11:17
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Lol: it's not beta software! Perhaps I wasn't clear enough. I'm talking about Maps: I guess I mean the Google Maps app. Sorry for confusion! –  aaaidan Jul 26 '12 at 20:33
    
Gonna agree with Harald Hanche-Olsen on this one: More than likely has to do with the certainty of your device that you're actually going that way. –  Terrance Shaw Jul 26 '12 at 23:41
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As long as the OP isn't asking about iOS 6 maps - this is clearly on topic. My guess without a screen shot, the "cone" is the optinal view where you can tap the location icon once to center your estimated location on the map and a second tap orients the map according to the built in magnetic compass. –  bmike Jul 26 '12 at 23:49
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2 Answers 2

As far as I noticed, moving the device in place also moves the cone. This would mean that the app is using the Compass in order to determine what you are "looking at". I guess what the app is trying to achieve is show your point of view, on the map, so you can easily distinguish objects. I have no idea why it would get wider/narrower, maybe something to do with compass accuracy?

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I believe it's related to the accuracy of the compass. In my experience, the compass is quite inaccurate and maps do not align perfectly with real life, but usually the actual alignment is somewhere in the cone (I say usually because sometimes they're so inaccurate that it's outside even that, especially when I'm inside a big metal car). This is similar to the blue circle around the dot that represents uncertainty in your location.

It probably changes its acuteness because the compass becomes more and less accurate over time. The angle of the device may have something to do with this (based on the built-in compass app and personal experience, the compass seems to be more accurate when the device is laid down flat).

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Yes, I should have made it clear in the question that the cone seems to represent some sort of accuracy/confidence, which is great. But I'm particularly interested in what factors (environmental?) alter it. –  aaaidan Jul 29 '12 at 0:29
    
I believe the biggest factor is being around metal. For example, I've noticed that moving my iPad from one side of the car to the other, I can actually visually see the offset in the compass shift. –  asmeurer Jul 29 '12 at 6:46
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