Garmin Merges Apps & Sports Profiles (kinda)

garmin venu 3 apps
Image| Garmin via and @Piotr Idzikowski

Garmin Changes how apps and sports profiles are accessed

Often when images of new Garmin products are leaked people can get too excited about the new product to actually notice what is shown in the images. Indeed often the featured images for a new product launch are featured for a reason…and that reason usually is because there is some new feature worth showing!

Thus the image above clearly shows that the incoming Garmin Venu 3 treats sports profiles (activities) and apps differently than before.

Preamble: What people refer to as CIQ ‘Apps’ fall in the categories of data fields, widgets and ‘apps’. I’m talking about the latter, the specific ‘app’ which can record an activity by itself.

Here we have a new Garmin feature on Venu 3 that surfaced recently. Currently, newly added apps are usually found at the end of your list of sports profiles, although their order can be changed. It now seems that Garmin has moved apps to a separate tab.



I can see some sense in doing this. If you are a novice user and you’ve just downloaded an app then why on earth would you look for it in the list of sports profiles? That just doesn’t make sense, right?

Now Garmin is saying, “Hey, your new app is in the list of apps”. Which does make sense I suppose.


However, really, how many apps do we all use?  I use one or two from time to time and there just aren’t enough to justify a whole new ‘tab’ to list them. Maybe that’s just me and you have hundreds of apps? Let me know below. Maybe instead Garmin has more cunning plans for apps in the future? We shall see in the course of time.

Another thing Garmin could do would be to change the name of ‘CIQ apps’ to ‘CIQ sports’ or something along those lines?

!! Edit

Ray has just posted his insights into the Venu 3 and the APPS section includes Music, Calls, Wallet and more. That actually makes a lot more sense from a usability point of view but are they really apps??



On another point, I’m still waiting for Garmin to let us add an app as a screen in a normal sports profile. I guess typically underpowered Garmin devices don’t have enough techy resources to safely do that but it would be nice. Imagine having the Stryd Workout app as an extra page in your run profile?…that makes a lot of sense to me.



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5 thoughts on “Garmin Merges Apps & Sports Profiles (kinda)

  1. Not sure having an app as a data page could work. The main distinction between an app and a data field is the UI. In an app, the app controls the UI. In a data field, it’s still the app/sport that controls the UI. Touch Edge devices are the only place where a data field can intercept some UI input via onTap(). But not on a map page. Can you imagine the chaos if a CIQ app as a data page, within a native app, started intercepting button presses and screen swipes? Can’t stop your activity. Can’t switch to other data pages. There are plenty of other features data fields don’t have access to, but this is the begin one. For the most part, if an app would work without the input UI, it can be re-written as a data field.

    1. Agreed. The difference between the various CIQ app types is not just a matter of resources (there are definitely less resources allocated to CIQ data fields as opposed to device apps), it’s also a matter of UI and functionality.

      I also think that the article title is backwards: “CIQ Merges Apps & Sport Profiles (kinda)”. It’s actually the opposite, as CIQ apps and native sport profiles are being separated into distinct lists for Venu 3.

      For any non-developers who are interested, Connect IQ apps are divided into the following categories:

      • “Watch Apps” / “Device Apps”: This is really such an unfortunate name, as it creates an ambiguity when referring to Connect IQ apps, both colloquially and in the user interface / Garmin documentation/marketing materials. It’s kinda like when Apple used to have an MacBook model that was simply called…MacBook, and how there’s still a similar situation for the iPad family.

      For example, all types of CIQ apps are generally referred to as “apps” by Garmin, and if you look at the in the Connect IQ app, there’s a separate category for your installed “device apps” (so far, so good), but of course in the screenshot above, “CIQ device apps” are simply referred to as “apps”. Either way, it’s not clear to me whether the average user would even know the distinction between a “Connect IQ app” and a “Connect IQ device app”.

      This type of app has its own user interface (as ekutter said) and also has the ability to record an activity, which is why one of the main use cases is to implement some sort of full replacement / alternative to a native sport activity. However, device apps don’t have to implement an activity, they can do other stuff (within the limits of CIQ), such as importing a FIT/GPX course from an Android device. That’s why I wouldn’t call them “CIQ sports”. Even native activities can do stuff besides sports (like the Clocks or Map Manager apps.)

      • Widgets: For older devices, this was a special type of app that appeared in the widget/glance list (when you press UP or DOWN from the watch face). These were similar to device apps, but with certain limitations (such as lacking the ability to record an activity, and timing out after a minute or so of no user input.) For newer devices, there’s no longer any distinction between CIQ “widgets” and “device apps” (both are referred to as “device apps”.) By default, a device app will appear in the activity list, but if the dev does a bit more work, it will also appear in the glance list. However, if a device app is launched from the glance list, it has the same limitations as a classic widget.

      • Data Fields: a type of app that’s designed to augment native activities. e.g. instead of implementing its own UI, it can only exist within the confines of the native activity UI. Instead of being able to record a whole activity on its own, it can only add data an existing recording for a native activity.

      IMO this is actually the most useful kind of CIQ app, since it can provide additional data to native activities without taking anything away from the native functionality. Contrast this with device apps which replace the Run activity or implement a Triathlon activity (for devices which don’t have one.) Those apps can be nice (e.g. dwMap is great for devices which don’t have navigation), but they’re always hampered by need for the developer to reinvent the wheel as far as reimplementing basic features which would be present in native activities (such as lap alerts.) CIQ doesn’t even allow device apps to do everything a native app can do.

      • Watchface: exactly what it says. Just my two cents, but this is probably the most popular kind of CIQ app (other than Spotify). I’ve run with a lot of different people, and the vast majority don’t care about CIQ at all, although they may have downloaded a watchface or two.

      • Music Provider: ditto (e.g. Spotify)

      Note that native apps don’t quite follow the same rules as CIQ apps, in many ways. For example, on newer devices, any CIQ device app that appears in the glance list will also appear in the activity list. This is clearly not the case for native glances, which are still wholly distinct from activities (even though some of the native activities, like Map Manager, are clearly not “activities” or “sports”).

  2. I only use stryd datafield and parkrun app. I try to use as little CIQ stuff as possible.

    I once complained to garmin that installing the parkrun app messed with the settings of apps/sportprofiles. The reaction of (dutch) garmin support was: “we don’t check CIQ apps and they can do everything they like. Better not use them”

    When I told them, it would be better if garmin made some sort of sandbox for the app to run in, I never got a further reply.

    (But that’s dutch garmin support. I always have a bad experience with dutch support. They always want to replace my hardware when I report a software bug)

    1. > “we don’t check CIQ apps and they can do everything they like. Better not use them”

      Yeah it seems this is the default Garmin support advice regarding CIQ. It’s not quite true tho (the part about apps being able to do “everything they like”). As a matter of fact, CIQ apps do have to go through an approval process before being published. I’m guessing the review process is mostly or completely automatic, but they are definitely checked. For example, certain types of apps will be flatly rejected, like apps designed for scuba diving, sky diving, base jumping, etc.

      Anyway that response from support feels like a funny, yet very apt, reflection of CIQ’s status within Garmin as a whole. Do they want customers to use this stuff or not? Does anyone care about CIQ users or devs over there? Or is it just a marketing box to check? “We have apps.”

      > some sort of sandbox for the app to run in

      As a matter of fact, this is very close to the truth. CIQ apps are highly constrained in what they can do, as far as accessing device resources, data and functionality. There’s certain things that native apps can do which no CIQ app will ever be able to do.

      I would say that if a CIQ app corrupts activity settings, that would be a bug on Garmin’s end. There’s nothing in the CIQ API which allows CIQ apps to change activity settings at all. I’ve definitely seen problems where installing one CIQ data field would cause another CIQ data field to crash and/or be removed, which again, seems like it would be an issue on Garmin’s end.

      Similarly, if a CIQ app is able to crash an activity or crash/reboot the whole watch (it’s been known to happen), that’s also an issue on Garmin’s end. CIQ apps are nothing like apps which run on a PC or even a phone, in the sense that they have a lot less freedom than those other apps. CIQ apps don’t get direct access to the hardware or the filesystem, for example.

  3. > Another thing Garmin could do would be to change the name of ‘CIQ apps’ to ‘CIQ sports’ or something along those lines?

    So this has kinda sorta happened, but not exactly in the way you’re suggesting. What’s happened is that CIQ apps which have permission to record an activity will appear in the “Activities” list (along with the native activities). Other CIQ apps will be listed under “Apps”. So again, it’s not really sports profiles and apps that have been merged, but rather the opposite.

    (Note that “activity” is probably more apt than “sport” here, as there are activity types which are not sports, such as the Stopwatch activity.)

    As you alluded to in an edit, it seems that native software programs (for lack of a better word) will also be split into Activities and Apps.

    All of this makes sense from a consistency POV, and from the viewpoint that Garmin wants a clear delineation between sports/activities and everything else.

    “The app launcher of the Venu 3 provides separation between activities and apps. If your app has the Fit permission, it will show in the Activities list.”

    (“Fit permission” means activity recording.)

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