Many apps you use on your iPhone are tracing your location to provide services or data based on where you are. While everything happens in the background, all of these apps actually use GPS coordinates to pinpoint your location in the most accurate way.
While an average user will never have to deal with GPS coordinates, knowing how to get them and understand them in their meaning can be useful for some – I think, for example, people who go outdoors or are involved in geocaching. If you’re one of these people or if you just want to learn something new, read on as we explain how to display GPS coordinates on iPhone.
What are GPS coordinates?
The GPS coordinates are values for determining a geographical point, consisting of the latitude and longitude of a position. For all intents and purposes, we will simply say that the latitude coordinate is a point relative to the equator, and longitude is a point relative to the meridian of the British Royal Observatory in Greenwich, in the United Kingdom.
How to view the latitude and longitude of a location in Apple Maps
If you need to locate a geographical point with your iPhone, no third-party application is required. You can view the latitude and longitude data of a location directly with the iOS system apps. You can actually do this by using the default Maps navigation app on your iPhone. But we will also look at how to use third-party apps to find out the values of our location or other places.
To view the current GPS coordinates, start the Maps app, tap the location arrow in the upper right corner of the screen, and then tap the blue point, which represents the location. Drag the “My Position” box up on the screen and you should see the GPS coordinates in the form of Latitude and Longitude. Unfortunately, you can not copy these coordinates from this application, but we’ll see below how you can actually copy them using an app other than Maps.
As we have seen above, the coordinates refer to the place where you are exactly. But you may need to know the geographical points of a place other than where you are. To view GPS coordinates of any place other than your location, tap and hold your finger on the screen to add a marker to the desired location, drag up on the information panel and you will be presented to the latitude and longitude of the place, in addition to other information.
Display the latitude, longitude and height of a position in the Compass app
In addition to Maps, in iOS there is another app preinstalled on your iPhone that you can use to see your coordinates: it’s the Compass app. The downside of this app is that you can only see the coordinates of your current position but not a place other than where you are. The advantage over Maps is that you can actually copy GPS coordinates and paste them into another app to share them with someone.
To view latitude, longitude and altitude coordinates in the Compass app, simply launch the app and look for data at the bottom of the screen. Click on the coordinates and the Copy function will appear.
To copy this data, touch and hold your finger on it until you see the Copy button. Tap on Copy and from there you can paste it in any other app.
View GPS coordinates in Google Maps
If the Maps and Compass apps are not to your liking and you prefer Google Maps, you can also get the GPS coordinates of a location from that app. If you do not have it installed on your iPhone, you can download it from the link below.
Download | Google Maps
Launch Google Maps on your iPhone, then touch and hold your finger to release a placemark on the screen (note that you can only view GPS data by inserting a placemark). Scroll up in the information box and the latitude and longitude data should be easily accessible there.
You can tap and hold your finger on the GPS coordinates to copy them to the clipboard, which you can not do in Apple Maps.
How to find a location based on your GPS coordinates
Suppose you have the GPS coordinates of a place you do not know, but you want to know where it is. The method is very simple, just paste these coordinates in the Maps app or in Google Maps and these apps will show you this position on the map.
From there, you can get directions to that location, or simply have a better understanding of where that place is. The coordinates are very useful to geolocalize a position in order to accurately identify an exact point of the earth’s crust. As we have seen, there is no need for sophisticated tools, but only for an iPhone.