Garmin Updates – availability of new Features explained

Garmin Updates November 2022

Garmin has introduced some new features and expanded the models that support slightly older features. It’s great Garmin does this but it’s a bit confusing as to whether or not your watch will get the feature, with the timing further confused when the media (like here) talk about new features that are only available to testers.

This chart should help, after which I’ll summarise the features if you are not already aware of what they do.

Clickable, source Garmin via GPS Information

 

Garmin Edge

The major feature here is Adaptive Training.

The is a large dollop of secret sauce for the Garmin Edge 1040 and allows you to get an overview of the week ahead’s scheduled workouts which adapt based on a variety of factors. Elsewhere I and others have a good stab at explaining how this works but the reality is…no-one really knows exactly what happens and as I found, if Garmin incorrectly assesses your basic physiological parameters the whole house of cards (Firstbeat Features) falls.

 

The connected features that share your race progress with friends via a smartphone are nice as is their ability to message words of encouragement to you. The reality is this is a peripheral, gimmicky feature that, whilst clever, screams out for an EDGE unit with LTE as no self-respecting competitor should have their phone with them on race day. At least that’s my opinion.

You have to look at the lack of new features on the Fenix 6 to extrapolate that Edge 530/830 owners will probably never get these new features.

Smart Watches, Fitness Watches Sports Watches

The major new feature is Garmin’s native but proprietary Running Power ecosystem (explainer here) which is more than simply a new data field as it is supported throughout much, but not all, of the Garmin ecosystem ie it’s included in workouts, alerts and compliance. Recently, Garmin has also done away with the need for an accessory and the power calculation is determined solely within all the Fenix 7-based watches.

The other new features are all relatively small and/or of peripheral use.

FWIW: I have Grade Adjusted Pace on my main running screen alongside Stryd‘s 3-second power but will probably never use Auto Rest in ULTRARUN. Similarly, I use Morning Report every morning but only as a means of accessing my overnight HRV to plug into HRV4Training for some proper HRV-readiness analysis.

 

Nextfork’s distance to the next junction is interesting enough, again I’ll never use it but some of you will love it and use it regularly.

My snowboard has sat in the same place in the loft for several years now delaminating away to its heart’s content so the chances of me using the Backcountry Snowboard sport profile are bordering on zero (it was my favourite sport back in the day).

Disc Golf might get an unexpected workout but only because my dog is pretty awesome at catching frisbees and I like to show her off, I’ll just see how the watch handles some random frisbee throwing.

I suspect that these features will not get further rolled out to the Venu watches as they are specialist sports features and Venu isn’t a specialist sports watch. Whether the Forerunner 255 deserves them is another matter entirely. It probably does deserve them but maybe instead they will find their way onto the soon-to-be-released Forerunner 265/965 (AMOLED) as a little sweetener to go along with the beautiful screen.

 

2023 – What new features can we expect?

I can’t see entirely new software features being invented, unless driven by new sensor data or other new hardware capabilities. There is only so much left to invent.

In my opinion, Garmin is likely to innovate in areas that allow features to better work together. For example, we already have adaptive workouts which work at a ‘macro’ level ie day-by-day. But another tier of adaptation could come within the workout as it is adapted to our fatigue state – thus the combination of features here would be Garmin STAMINA and micro-ADAPTIVE WORKOUTS (Xert already do this).

LTE is the other hardware feature that would leverage Edge 1040’s existing features and perhaps pave the way for improved performance-sharing and safety features across Garmin’s cycling range. However, Garmin is always going to be limited by what the networks will allow it to do with other messaging apps (iMessage, Whatsapp, Telegram)

Also worth considering is Garmin Running Power. This is a relatively complete metric in terms of its support. However, one area where running power is not integrated into the wider Garmin features is the Firstbeat Physiology metrics. The physiology metrics that currently work with cycling power probably will be expanded to include the comparable effects & competencies of running power.

We are fast approaching a new mini-wave of sensors that will be able to non-invasively determine lactate, blood glucose, hydration, blood pressure and other weird and wonderful metrics. 2024 is a good year to hope for in that respect. Some of you may have heard of Rockley Photonics but don’t necessarily expect the innovation I’m talking about here to come from them, it seems the company are struggling with getting its sensor to market and there are several others chomping at its heels.

2023 will be the year of the AMOLED.

2023: new Garmin Endurance Sports Technologies for GPS Watches & Bike Computers Trends

 

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21 thoughts on “Garmin Updates – availability of new Features explained

  1. “Garmin’s native but proprietary Running Power ecosystem”

    Does this include auto detection of FTP/CP and a power duration curve for say last year’s worth of activities, as it does with cycling power?

      1. It seems slightly aggressive to label Garmin’s running power as “proprietary” when there is no standard and every implementation is proprietary. The thing that has me grumbling is not accepting the power feed from Stryd as a (cycling) power meter in watts — which it could easily do. I think that is probably a platform power play and I don’t like it.

        Garmin does detect FTP automatically. I got an FTP power update alert after a run a couple of weeks ago so I know it does, but then I dismissed it without thinking in my post-run fugue so I don’t know what it detected. It is also supposed to provide a new FTP estimate in terms of power and HR if you do the guided test.

        I think 5K is right that the recovery metrics and other Firstbeat stuff have nothing to do with this. Nor do I think they are influenced by having proper zones configured. I think the load and recovery metrics are all based on time spent at a percentage of whatever you have configured as max HR. They also are not aware of having done a previous activity in the same day. The Firstbeat metrics I find all too simplistic to be useful. I removed the training status widget and card from GCM, turned off the suggested workouts, and finally “paused” training status long ago. That last one stops the watch saying productive/unproductive/etc. and giving you a vo3max score at the end of every activity, but it still tracks all of it.

      2. “The thing that has me grumbling is not accepting the power feed from Stryd as a (cycling) power meter in watts — which it could easily do.” that’s because it’s proprietary ! Garmin could push for the standard if they wanted to . they didn’t want to. and so it is a platform play. (Polar and Suunto use standard data buckets rather than proprietary ones)

        the metrics are definitely influenced by the correct zones being used. at least #zones’ in the case of LTHR which is kinda the upper Z4 limit. %hrr or %hrmax amount to pretty much the same thing

  2. I wonder if there will be a minor progression to using a Critical Power auto-calculated through a Power Distribution Curve (like Stryd use) as opposed to relying on Lactate Threshold for an FTP for defining Power Zones??

    As it stands, the majority of users who don’t wear a HRM strap, will never get Zones updated as I understand it, which is going to reduce the value of Power as a usable metric.

    For me, I’ve just been sending my data on to intervals.icu, which builds a PDC and establishes an estimated FTP, pumping this back in to the User Profile on the watch and I now have reasonable zones that make sense…but it does seem a bit odd that this isn’t native functionality.

    1. yes i agree and think it will come
      there are quite a few places that running power can be integrated into the firstbeat stuff. so new features could come en masse or by drip feed.
      or…not at all if garmin isn’t confident in the data

    2. It should prompt to auto-update power zones based on the auto-detect lactate threshold power feature if you run something it detects as a threshold run in the roughly 40-45 min range. This is clearly more simplistic than what Stryd is doing with server-side detection and auto-generation of the power curve, but it isn’t as bad as never updating the power zones.

      1. stryd probably identify 2 or 3 durations and then model the curve around those points eg a 19 minute, 20-minute or 40-minute run can easily be used to calculate CP/FTP just a slightly different scaling factor. a 6 minute run or 120 minute run, for most people, will be impacted by other factors and scaling them to FTP is probably inappropriate but it’s still the same scale factors applied for your abilities at longer and shorter durations. it’s not computationally complex and could easily be done on a watch.

  3. Sadly Garmin (in area of smartwatches) resembles Nokia to me. Great hardware, poor software and inability to realize that. Nokia was betting on Symbian, and for a while this was really good OS for phones. But in rise of Apple IOS, Android, Windows Mobile – it was incapable to keep up. Eventually they decided to bet on Windows Mobile and partnered with Microsoft – but it was too late – both for Nokia and Microsoft. It ended up with fall of Nokia in smartphones (sure, I know Nokia still exists and does well in making GSM equipment for mobile operators, and there is even “Nokia” smartphones with Android – but they have really nothin to do with Nokia – just selling the brand). Apple Watch Ultra waaay ahead in smartwatch capabilities compared to Garmins, it has very good sensors, and is likely to catch up on fitness/sports capabilities pretty quickly. I expect that Google may release more advanced Pixel watches soon (supported by FitBit capabilities). Garmin is doing NOTHING to improve the smartwatch capabilities. The excellent battery may not be enough to save Garmin (well, Nokia “smartphones” were able to run for weeks, todays smartphones are able to run for dozen of hours – yet everybody are using the Android/IOS smartphones). Garmin is on path to became very niche…

      1. I’m of two minds on this. I have certainly been critical of Garmin and worry about their long-term viability with the tech.

        The Garmin platform is much more “primitive” than Apple — which is a UNIX implementation with a GUI in a watch. But Garmin and Coros and Polar and Suunto do get something out of having a more “primitive” embedded system. The most obvious thing is far, far lower power thresholds — which translates into the Epix lasting several days longer than an Apple Watch Ultra. I think there are other advantages as well. It’s not cut and dried.

    1. When people search on the internet they now say they Google it.

      When runners, and such like, talk about smart watches, they say Garmin.

      That’s massive.

      From my casual observations only Apple phone users buy Apple watches

      So to me it’s clear, the future for Garmin AND Apple is great. Everyone else, good luck.

      1. dont forget Google/Fitbit. once they get their act together they will be a force to be reckoned with in the non-iOS side of the market
        a lot of people also talk about their fitbit. not the same people that we normally workout with

  4. Not sure if others have noticed this, but Im getting Garmin power values and Stryd power values in my Garmin activity reports. The values have a very similar trend but the numbers are different. Im using FR255 plus Stryd without any additional devices. So, looks like Garmin is now using Stryd metrics to calculate their own power values.

    1. Edit…just realized it was reported that the FR255 (along with others) are getting (or have received) the feature to calculate running power using the watch alone.

    2. Yes. Garmin will use any footpod pace as an input to their power algorithm when running outdoors if it is set to “always”. Another way to get a similar input is using the “footpod” in the HRM-Pro.

  5. Garmin Edge 1040
    since Polar will most likely not be developing and producing a new bike computer, I decided to try other brands and one was Hammerhead Karoo2 and then Edge 1040.
    Karoo2 is in my humble opinion a very good tool to show how I move and with what load, but it lacks load analysis.
    Therefore, Edge 1040 would be this tool and from my point of view checking and comparing the values ​​​​that it receives through the analysis with the Polar algorithm.
    Unfortunately, here Garmin set failed.
    You write “…no-one really knows exactly what happens and, as I found, if Garmin incorrectly assesses your basic physiological parameters the whole house of cards (Firstneat Features) falls.”
    I am not surprised that it gets funny (but also annoying) results, because Garmin ignores basic physiological parameters.
    Under My Stats/Training Zones/Heart Rate Zones I gave my resting HR 48, but Edge 1040 says my HRrest is 101??? Based on this, my age is according to Garmin 71!!!
    A similar situation is with sleep time; According to Edge, I sleep over 14 hours every day.
    I called Garmin in Germany and got the answer that I have to buy a watch, e.g. Fenix7 and then I will have the right results?!?!
    I have Polar Vantage 2 and I am very happy with it. Edge is too expensive to be just a display.
    I think I’ll sell it and buy a Karoo 2.
    What do you think about this way of dealing with customers?

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