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Garmin has got a Forerunner/Fenix problem. It’s not a big one, but it’s a problem nevertheless.
The User Interface (UI), when navigating around the watch, is a charitable “not great”. Often it doesn’t look good, often it’s impossible to find things, often the repetitive strain injury on your wrist is further worsened as you contort your hands, fingers and brain around Garmin’s 5-button interface.
But, hey!, at least they’ve got 5 buttons and when you are IN a workout profile and then, whilst exercising, the buttons, screens, layouts and presentations of the sports metrics are actually good and sometimes great.
You are probably a Garmin watch owner, so you already know that the bottom two buttons on the left-hand side scroll through a customisable list of widgets and you will know that a widget can provide access to a wealth of further info like ‘your heart stats’, ‘your recovery stats’ or the ‘music library’.
Let’s be frank. Widgets don’t look pretty. They don’t even sound pretty. And they require you to press another button to drill down into the more interesting and useful stuff that hides below.
More techy Widget Glances info here
So, back in August(ish) I used the new widget glances as they were rolled out on to the Fenix 6. Like the images above and immediately below…
As you can see, widget glances are a whole lot prettier than boring-old widgets. They are also more useful in that a widget glance has some aspect of ‘live’ information displayed instead of a previously static title. So, for example, the “MUSIC” widget now shows rich WIDGET GLANCE information about the current track, the album it comes from, how long the song is and how long to go. Which is pretty cool. And in the image above, you can see that today’s SUNSET and SUNRISE times are given on the widget glance along with the number of minutes to sunset.
In my opinion, widget glances DO improve the UI and User Experience somewhat. It’s both an aesthetic improvement and also an improvement made to slightly reduce the overall number of key presses that are required to get at the information.
There’s always a HOWEVER or a BUT.
However, widget glances have a different look and feel than much of the rest of the interface and, as we shall see in a minute, they don’t look quite so good on smaller screens, like that found on the 945.
I don’t profess to be a graphic designer, interface designer or software engineer (although I do know a little bit about these things) yet what I can’t figure out is how someone expert in their field has cobbled together all the different aspects of Garmin’s watch designs and that someone INexpert in this field (me) can see that there’s something wrong with it all. Maybe the answer lies in the evolutionary nature in which the Forerunners have come to be what they are today?
Widget Glances on the 945
Update Your 945 to Widget Glances NOW – Here’s How
Despite all of that, I have been looking forward to the arrival of widget glances on the Forerunner 945. I updated to v4.06 of the firmware but nothing appeared, so I moved on in my sporty, somewhat techy, life. Then I remembered that, maybe, just maybe, I needed to turn them on. Ah, indeed so, just as the software notes say, “The option to enable is found in the Widgets menu.” I’m sure you read those as frequently as I do. So you install the firmware and do this
- Long left middle-press
- Press UP 16 times (seriously) to get to ‘Widgets’ (and yes I know what someone’s going to comment on below about pressing down instead 😉 but that’s what I did the first time…user interface? remember?)
- Press enter to enable Widget Glances
Let’s look at the 945 and Fenix 6, apologies for each displaying different widget glances as that makes these two images slightly less easy to compare.
The screen size of the Fenix 6 is bigger than the Forerunner 945 and just seems, to me, to look that little bit superior in how it presents the widget glance ABOVE and BELOW the central widget.
You might week be wondering what this year’s Forerunner 955 LTE has in store for you. Already you will realise that, out of the box, it will have widget glances up and running but a little bit of further thought will tell you it has LTE (although maybe you’re not quite so sure what it means) 😉 and then a mini leap of faith will tell you that it almost certainly will have a larger screen…just like the Fenix 6. As to what other features are on the Forerunner 955 LTE and what LTE actually means in the context of a triathlon watch are other matters entirely – very interesting ones, if I may say so. So just imagine it does NOT make and take audio phone calls and then think what it could do with LTE ie with all the LTE connectivity stuff it could do AS IF you had your phone with you in a race (which hopefully you never do).