Twelve South Blog

Origins: The Evolution of Compass

Did you know? The original Compass was released in 2010, the same year as the first iPad! While Compass hasn't gone through as many system updates as iPad, it has had its own journey towards what we now know today as the Compass Pro. To celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Compass, we're taking a deep dive on its origins and evolution with its designer, Andrew Green. 

Origins: The Evolution of Compass

Did you know? The original Compass was released in 2010, the same year as the first iPad! While Compass hasn't gone through as many system updates as iPad, it has had its own journey towards what we now know today as the Compass Pro. To celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Compass, we're taking a deep dive on its origins and evolution with its designer, Andrew Green. 

 Origins: The Evolution of Compass

Q: What inspired Compass, and why did you want to make it initially?

AG: The moment Steve Jobs announced iPad at Macworld in 2010, I had the question, what do you do with it when it’s NOT in your hands- for movies, for pictures - just passive screen info? That weekend I designed Compass on my kitchen counter out of construction paper. It was basically just a collapsible metal easel with details specific to iPad - like the typing angle, for example. Seven months later, we introduced the first generation of Compass.

Q: Why did you decide to redesign it?
AG: We’ve radically improved Compass two times now, first with Compass 2 and now with the latest edition, Compass Pro. The biggest challenge we faced when redesigning Compass 2 was making it stable enough for the newer 12.9-inch iPad Pros in Portrait. (Landscape stability is easy). Turns out the key was the feet - not the back support! Once we nailed that, we knew we had the best version of Compass to date, which we now know as Compass Pro. 

Q: Compass Pro is perfectly compact for travel but what might someone need to know before their next flight?

AG: TSA’s job is to find pointy metal objects, and they do a great job finding our Compass sometimes. I always suggest removing Compass and sending it through with your MacBook separately if you think you might have a hard time with it. Many TSA officers now know and recognize Compass in the X-ray and give it a pass - which is really cool actually!

Q: Compass is such a versatile product that can be adapted for many uses. What’s the most surprising way you’ve seen Compass used?
AG: There was an interesting one where someone had duct taped Compass to their exercise bike. You can see it here. We don't recommend doing that but it was certainly inventive!

Q: What’s your favorite way to use Compass?

AG: The new iPadOS with trackpad support is the biggest revolution to iPad since… the iPad. With ANY iPad on a Compass Pro, paired with an external keyboard and especially Apple’s Magic Trackpad, iPad immediately becomes a desktop-worthy workstation. I love the keyboard folio cases for travel but at your desk, a Compass + iPad combo can't be beat for vertical-screen work, a higher camera position - just a much more flexible setup in general.Check out our three quick tips for the perfect iPad workstation.  

 The evolution of Compass from kitchen table sketch to TSA's favorite travel accessory for iPad* has been 10 years in the making and if the latest updates to iPad tell us anything, it's that Compass Pro will only continue to become more essential to your setup, both at home and on-the-go. See more Origin stories here.
*not officially endorsed by TSA

 

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