An iPhone app helped eight people flee to safety from the Algerian hostage crisis at the Tiguentourine gas plant.
Liviu Floria, a Romanian gas worker, and seven other people walked for 20 miles across the Sahara desert, using the Compass app on Floria’s iPhone.
The app even worked without a cellular signal, helping them navigate through the “barren terrain of sand and rocks and small hills from about 2 a.m. until the late afternoon,” The New York Times reported.
Using a distant light and the app, the group made it to a building near a gas well and then eventually half of the group (including Floria) found three Algerian security officers to help them.
Compass is an app that is pre-loaded to most iPhones and shows you which direction your phone is heading and your current geographical coordinates. For the iPhone 5 version, a simple figure-eight waving motion with the phone is all that’s needed to calibrate its internal compass, according to the iPhone user guide.