Garmin CIQ Data Fields – Watches – No Longer Fit For Purpose?
There are at least two main purposes of a CIQ Data Field (DF). Firstly, it allows you to customise what sports data is displayed in exactly the way that best suits you. Secondly, it allows third-party sensor brands to quickly get their sensors working in the Garmin environment, which is an important route to market for them.
Problem #1 – Limitations on the number of DFs on a watch
Garmin currently limits you to two different CIQ Data Fields on any one sports profile. A recent change allowed you to reuse a Data Field (DF) on a different page within the same profile without that counting as an extra DF.
The device type limits are:
- Watches: 2 unique CIQ data fields
- Garmin running power data fields are now native and unrestricted in number.
- Edge bike computers: 10 unique CIQ data fields
I imagine that the limitation was historically implemented to conserve resources. Even though Garmin watches seem to be perennially underpowered, it’s always been a mystery to me why my struggling, old Garmin Edge 820 wasn’t similarly restricted. Thus the current limitations are probably more of an historical hangover than anything inherently linked to the modern Garmin watch hardware.
As far as I know, there is no reliable workaround to the current situation.
However, you might strike it lucky with some third-party CIQ DF developers who develop single, full-screen DFs. If one of these just happens to support three of your more unusual metrics, you are in luck.
In recent months, I’ve been scooting through several third-party developer fields, including Stryd, muscle oxygen, CORE Body Temp, Supersapiens, and ActiveLook/Engo 2 HUD. It’s been a minor PITA to have to keep rejigging my favourite running profile to accommodate the ones I want to use on any given day.
My more serious problem is that I would definitely simultaneously use three of these DFs if Garmin would let me. Is it unreasonable for an athlete to want to use those five DFs simultaneously? I think it is. Certainly running, SmO2, and CHO are all valid metrics to simultaneously use.
Garmin DFs are limited to 128KB in size, which constrains developers, but another constraint is the type of data that is limited to certain types of data, such as numbers, strings, and dates. Furthermore, restrictions exist which stop developers from writing certain kinds of data into FIT files. For example, STRYD’s running power has to be written separately as Developer Data rather than into the standard power field, which, I believe, is how Suunto and Polar handle this.
My next gripe is that no third-party developer fields work on new Garmin devices at launch. My understanding is that developers have to certify them for each device. I think this has changed to some degree in CIQ 6, but I’m not seeing any difference with my new Forerunner 965. I’m having to cheat and surreptitiously load CIQ DFs through the back door and just accept that they don’t always display quite how they should.
Stryd is pretty good at promptly certifying its CIQ DFs and apps.
Look, it’s 2023, and Garmin should sort out these glaring inadequacies in one of the key areas of its app architecture. CIQ is one of the reasons why Garmin leads the way in sports tech.
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