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Garmin announces ability to develop apps on wearables, with Connect IQ

IMG_8011

Today, at the ANT+ Symposium in Kananaskis, Canada, Garmin has announced a sweeping change to how 3rd parties can interface with Garmin wearable devices a new platform called Connect IQ.  This will ultimately allow 3rd party developers to write applications that run directly on the company’s devices such as enabling companies like Strava to create apps on future Garmin watches that could in real-time pull from cloud services to create notifications, send data, or receive data.

These changes won’t be available on the devices in the market as of today, September 24th, but rather on new devices going forward that will have the hardware and codebase to support such app development.  Nonetheless, starting today developers can begin downloading the software development kit (SDK) to begin coding ahead of release to supported devices in ‘Early 2015’.

An overview of Connect IQ:

The announcement today enables developers to create apps on specific Garmin devices.  In the context of Connect IQ, there are four distinct ways developers can create applications on devices, they are as follows:

Apps: These are fully functional applications running on the watch that can have menus, state (saving data), and can be driven through a number of user interactions.  When you think of an app similar to that of your phone, this is what you’re looking at (roughly).  Below, is an example of an app (in the simulator).  All of the examples here show the use of the MOXY Muscle Oxygen sensor, which is an example contained within the SDK.  The part you’re looking at below is within the black simulator screen, which is showing different values displayed in real-time from Moxy during a demo.

MoxyDataDisplayApp

(Sorry, getting screenshots of the small simulator is tricky)

Data Fields: This allows one to create a single data field (or multiple fields) that users can add to their existing data pages on their watch.  For example, you could create a bike tire pressure data field and have it alongside more standard fields like speed, cadence, and distance.  These fields can be different sizes as well, and potentially have more than one piece of information on them.  In the below example you can see the data field is simply replicated three times, but it’s a single data field that can be re-used elsewhere.

ComplexDataField

Watch Faces: These are faces that are available from the default screen of the watch and can include any information you’d like.  They’re updated at once per minute and run 24×7 in a low-power mode that doesn’t require shutting off (whereas most other smart watches do).  Garmin would likely point out you can infer what you’d like from the color screen shown below. Alternatively, you can infer what you’d like about the choice of imagery.

WatchFaces

And here’s a round watch face variant:

RoundWatchFace

Widgets: These are glanceable pages that are mostly non-interactive (though they can do basic input such as accept/reject) that are included within the main screen loop of your watch.  For example, a widget might be something that has a single page that pulls the local weather forecast from an internet service based on the device location data, or the current leader at the Kona Ironman.  I do not at this time have an example screenshot of the widgets.

Quadrant

It should be noted that within the apps they expose a single generic ANT channel which can be used for any ANT protocol communication that isn’t standards based.  Said differently, this allows Garmin devices to gather pretty much any data on this planet from any ANT capable device.  That’s huge for 3rd parties.

As you can see there’s a lot of app types.  While some devices may support all four app types, it’s possible that some devices might only support a single type.  For example, something that’s more like a wrist band (à la Vivosmart) wouldn’t be able to support a complex app menu due to the form factor, but could potentially support a data field.

Technical Details:

Eclipse

So what kind of data can apps access?  Well, this is where things get interesting.  For starters, they can access any of the ANT+ profiles that the device natively supports, as well as things like location data.  But, they can also access ANT+ profiles that the device doesn’t natively support.  For example, they could access the ANT+ Muscle Oxygen Sensor data that isn’t supported today within the Garmin lineup.  This would allow devices like Moxy to transmit/record on a Garmin device.

Not only that, they can access ANT data via the generic ANT channel that’s not yet a profile.  So if I created a hydration sensor that transmitted how much water I drank from a water bottle, that could easily be added.

One area that’s a bit grey (with shades of black) is whether or not they’ll allow access to Bluetooth Smart sensors.  While they will enable Bluetooth Smart phone access (iOS/Android), they were slightly coy on access to non-ANT+ sensors.

Speaking of the phone, Bluetooth Smart is the major conduit for apps to get installed on the device.  In order to install an app on your future Garmin device, you will need the Garmin Connect Mobile App on your phone (iOS/Android).  This would be sorta similar to how Pebble works in terms of getting access to their app store.

However, once an app is installed there’s no specific requirement for the Garmin Connect Mobile app to be running (or even installed) on your phone.  The 3rd party app can run by itself (on the watch) as well as access 3rd party apps on your phone.  For example, a Strava app running on your Garmin device could actually talk directly to the native Strava app on your phone.  This is in turn similar to how some of the smart watches work like the Magellan Echo.  From there the app could access 3rd party data out on the interwebs.

Looking at the storage of data, apps will be able to write any data they’d like to the .FIT file.  That data could be uploaded to 3rd party services to view that additional data.  For example, an app could write a new data field called ‘Tire Pressure’ and then using an ANT capable sensor stream with that data could record that data (just like outlined here a few weeks ago).  That data could then be viewed on websites that support it (i.e. Sport Tracks might choose to add it).  Note that at this point the Garmin Connect website won’t show these extended values (something that Suunto does with their apps).

image

When it comes to development, the SDK will be released on both Windows and Mac.  The SDK includes the device simulator, which can also be used in conjunction with an ANT+ USB stick to access/test ANT/ANT+ sensor data.  It also includes a 60+ page guide.  They noted that: “We want to be pushing to the limits because we want people to do everything they want to do”.

In other words, if the SDK doesn’t do something a developer wants today, they’re looking to try and bridge that gap if they can in the next update.  They are calling today’s release ‘Preview 1’, and expect to have at least one more preview before final release early next year.

To that end, there’s no cost for the SDK (nor for publishing), and you don’t even need an account at all to start development.  To publish an app you will need a Garmin Connect account.

Devices Supported:

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Now this is where things get a bit…complicated.  And when I say ‘complicated’, I mean it more in the old school Facebook relationship status of: ‘It’s complicated’, rather than the technical ‘complicated’ sense.  This is because there aren’t yet any Garmin devices that have this functionality in them, again, as of September 24th, 2014.

The immediate plan for supported devices is for ‘wearable’ focused units (said in plain English: watches).  Note despite the wearable focus, the team responsible elaborated that they are eager to hear feedback and see if there’s demand on other platforms (read: Edge bike computers).  Personally, I think there’s actually far more potential for cool stuff on the Edge platform than there is on the fitness lineup.  You’ve got more screen real estate, more storage, and better connectivity (such as on the Edge 1000 with a full Bluetooth 4.0 stack and WiFi).  For example, Alphamantis and their aerodynamic capabilities could potentially create an app directly on a Garmin Edge to show current aerodynamic metrics.

ConnectIQTimeline

Ultimately, I’m optimistic that between now and ‘Early 2015’ we’ll have a bit more clarity on what and which devices will be supporting apps.  Note that in the presentation made in Canada this morning, they did highlight the ‘Early 2015’ timeframe in more depth and noted that they want developers to submit apps by the end of December for inclusion in January launch events. Given that CES is also in early January, this would be a logical timeframe for a launch of the platform and associated components.

How it compares with Suunto Apps:

Some are no doubt pointing out that Suunto had apps first on their watches, and that’s absolutely true.  Within the dedicated sport watch realm they were the first major company to do so almost two years ago.

Suunto increased the capabilities of their apps about a year ago with the release of the Ambit2, adding the ability to store data that is shown on Suunto Movescount (their platform) as well as adding the ability to run more apps.  Since then we haven’t seen significant advancement forward however.

The Garmin apps differ in some substantial ways.  First, they do everything Suunto does except show the data on their own website at this time.  Second, and most importantly, they allow multi-level/page apps (with interactions).  Third, they allow access to the phone/internet and 3rd party apps on the phone itself.  Fourth, the Garmin apps allow undefined ANT data stream access, whereas Suunto apps don’t.

As you can see, the differences are quite significant.  Which isn’t to take away from Suunto, but rather, simply to illustrate that development platform supporting is taking another step forward.

My Thoughts:

IMG_8002

My thinking here is rather simplistic: About time (and hallelujah!).

The potential of this platform is huge, especially with the ability for 3rd parties to create their own sensors and easily connect them directly to Garmin devices to display and gather data.  Adding in the connected internet aspects via phone, and it’s rather impressive.

Of course, I recognize that shifting platforms and policies is not easy, nor something that can be done quickly for a company the size of Garmin. Ultimately the question here will be whether Garmin can move fast enough in creating enough hooks and interest for developers to outpace what will be a (fast or slow) movement of customers to other watches like the Apple Watch.

Garmin has stated in meetings to me that they’re “absolutely” looking to take and integrate feedback from the preview SDK.  Knowing the specific players and leads involved in this effort, I’m actually fairly optimistic there.  They’ve assembled a sharp team that has a very clear record of taking feedback from customers and iterating quickly with software releases.

I’m eager to watch as developers do cool things on the platform, and eager to see how the next generation of devices can surface this information to users.

As always, thanks for reading!

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123 Comments

  1. JoggWithoutAmbit

    Well – that seems to be a new feature of the FR920*, doesn’t it…
    Guess these apps will be a strong competitor of Suuntos Ambit Apps …
    Joachim
    *) nice to see the four field screen of the new FR920, I guess

  2. Simplistic it may be but I can only concur: About time (and hallelujah!). Exciting times ahead. Thanks for the heads up, Ray.

  3. David Lusty

    Blimey, could you have used a bigger font on the subtext?

    Well played though, Garmin have pulled pretty much every other post, thread and picture from the Internet so at least we see why you tread so finely on the line :)

  4. Chris

    This is one of those posts where I probably don’t understand the full implications of it, but find it exciting!

    Now we just need to convince them to enable ConnectIQ on the Edge 810 ;).

  5. These are some exciting news.
    I may have missed it, but where is the link to the SDK?
    Also some further questions:
    – Is there a SDK tutorial you can recommend?
    – What programming language is used?
    – Is there a ANT+ basics tutorial you can recommend?
    – Any word on Garmin extending into the Windows Phones (as they are truly fantastic now)?
    Thanks
    Tim

  6. Kelli Trudel

    Will this platform be on the next generation 920XT?

  7. Dustin

    Enabling on Edge would take it to a whole new level of usefulness. You could create full fitness tracking apps to track the gym, treadmill, spin bike, running, and cycling.

  8. Den

    Wow! This is huge!
    I’m really looking forward for FR920 and Fenix 3.

  9. Jim McDannald

    Any word yet whether Garmin Connect will tie into Apple’s Health Kit?

  10. Skoinas

    Game changer. This makes Suunto’s app development look so pedestrian and outdated. Oh wait, it is.

    • morey000

      yeah, stuff that doesn’t yet exist always seems to make the stuff that has existed for a few years, seem pedestrian and outdated.

      Looks like it has great potential- but we’ll see. I truly hope Garmin creates such a great new product and platform that I just have to give them my money! Although my fear is that the new outside apps will just be all new ways for my Garmin to freeze and crash.

    • Skoinas

      Except the Suunto app ecosystem was outdated when it was announced, especially if you compare it app building on other technological platforms. But since it was new and unique to gps watches, it was heralded as new and inventive.

  11. cj

    This seems like a clear indication to get a lead against Watch?

    How do you see Suunto moving forward on this approach by Garmin or are we looking at two separate app “philosophies” but Garmin and Suunto and it doesn’t really matter?

  12. Craig

    This will hopefully push Suunto to step up to the mark. Competition is a great thing :-)

    • JoggWithoutAmbit

      …will be a “difficulty and stony” way for a small company like Suunto … but maybe they will manage it
      Joachim

  13. This is in turn similar to how some of the smart watches work like the Magellan Echo.

    It’s funny how things come full circle. Members of the “tossed” Garmin Connect team (including the MotionBased.com co-founder) start a fitness division at Magellan based on the principles of playing well with an open data policy, playing well with others apps/sites, and putting 3rd party app experience on your wrist – all principles at odds with the powers that be at Garmin back in 2010 (FYI – the Garmin Connect API was ready back in 2010 but the team was not allowed to release it).

    I am surprised, but more importantly excited to see the change in principles at Garmin. Not sure if it’s new blood, finally realizing the importance of being open, competitive landscape (smart watches) – guessing it’s a combination. Garmin has always been great at executing, especially with hardware, but their ability to focus on the supporting software solutions has come a long way as has their mentality on openness.

    If you don’t want to wait until 2015 and want Strava, MapMyFitness, RunKeeper, Wahoo Fitness, iSmoothRun, Jog Note, GolfPadGPS, Men’s Health Personal Trainer, iMobileIntervals, or AllTrails on your wrist, then purchase a Magellan Echo today. I personally use Wahoo Fitness or iSmoothRun (both upload to all the major fitness sites) with Echo while running and Wahoo Fitness with RFLKT+ while cycling. If you carry your phone with you anyway for music, safety, photo opps, etc. then I find it a much better solution than carrying two disjointed GPS devices on your body at the same time, especially since Echo does not require charging!

    DISCLAIMER: I am one of those “tossed” Garmin Connect employees who joined Magellan. I still root for Garmin as a company and want to see them succeed, but have an obligation to my current company to educate consumers on products out there today that might meet their needs :)

  14. Christoph

    The api looks a little slim still. No waypoints, no tracks, no routes.
    So more Forerunner and less Fenix…

  15. mucher

    That’s very interesting indeed! I’m just wondering if they will retrofit that to existing devices (say 620, F2 or E810).

    Also – what happens if an app bricks the device? How likely will that be?

  16. Dressel

    Great post as always!
    Try Alt+Print Screen to make a screenshot of your “working” screen.

  17. Matt H

    Has hell frozen over? Next you’ll be telling me that Garmin will soon read Bluetooth sensors.

    It’s about time they recognised the need to play with other people, because I’ve gone the BTLE sensor route I currently have little interest in garmin products as they don’t want to play with me or my digital friends. In the past year I’ve spent quite a few pennies on fitness gadgets and by ignoring me and people like me they’re limiting their potential customers.

    Looking at how apps improve hardware (pebble had the foresight to do this from the outset) it is way past time, and garmin look like they may remain on my radar but they still have a way to go before I invite them over to play.

  18. Todd

    Any mention of whether they plan on implementing this in their bike mounted computers? I’d be very interested if that happens.

  19. Andrew

    Any idea if Garmin will support transferring apps from a PC, or is an android/iPhone going to be a requirement?

  20. skijeti

    Great stuff.

    • JoggWithoutAmbit

      Hi skijeti,
      nice to “meet” you here – “faraway” from Suuntos Movescount … let’s see what developing will be on Garmin side ;)
      Have a nice time
      Joachim

  21. Robert Black

    Great news, it’s great to be able to tweak things, but I hope the products still have full customable workout capabilities out of the box unlike the competition.

  22. Just as a quick heads up I added a small update with some timeline pieces (including presentation slide) from this morning’s presentation around submissions by December and hitting a January launch timeframe.

    • Eli

      The wording worries me. They aren’t saying support for this comes in early 2015 (firmware updates for existing devices) but that new devices that support this will ship in early 2015. And your wording above “new devices going forward that will have the hardware and codebase to support such app development” implies that existing devices including the fr920xt that rumour says is coming very soon won’t have the hardware to support this functionality. So those planning to buy a new watch should wait till 2015 when new devices will come out? As this new functionality is pretty powerful I’m guessing these new devices will include new high end devices so would include a watch with the functionality of the 620 & 920.

      Had garmin clarified any of that?

    • I wouldn’t overthink the PowerPoint slide.

      From a devices standpoint, Garmin has said to me that while not every single new device will get it, the rough line in the sand is the $250ish units (with above being yes). Which doesn’t mean lower devices won’t get it across the board, but rather it’s just going to be on a case by case basis.

    • Rohan

      I’m surprised Garmin aren’t planning to use this to push cheaper units. They only need to provide the software that tells the time and allows you to start/stop recording an activity, along with supporting Connect IQ. They can use this software piece on all units going forward, which means they can focus all of their effort (and costs) on the hardware/firmware.

      More serious athletes are going to want to stick with the premium products, but using this approach it wouldn’t take much to have a competitor for units like the Magellan Echo Fit for the casual runners. It also brings greater access to developers.

      Do you think this is an option, or will Garmin more likely try and keep the majority of the software the “Garmin way”?

    • I suspect they’re probably looking at market adoption and then going from there. They seemed happy with the response they got from developers today at the ANT+ Symposium (Day 1), so I’m sure they’re looking at device price points as well. Different apps no doubt will target different consumer markets and thus different Garmin device levels.

    • Daniel

      So… Still confused. Does this mean that no currently sold Garmin watches or Edge units will GET the new improvements in 2015? Or will some of the higher end devices like the 1000, FR620, fenix2 get updates that will make these apps relevant for current owners?

    • No, no currently available units will get this. Only new/unannounced units.

      The one bit of grey area might be the Edge 1000, as they seemed a bit wishy-washy if that could support it, since they are saying it’s not focused on the Edge series at all right now.

    • Eli

      So the fr 220/620 is a no. The 220 doubly so as it’s low end. The endure 500/810 is a definite no and the 1000 depends on if they support the edge series. I’m assuming you can’t comment on the 920 because you’re under nda but when your review hits well you know if that is a no (released before 2015) our a yes (new device)

      If 620 is no then will a 620 replacement come soon that does it? (And built in fitness tracker to compete with polar)

      Non fitness devices? Golf, trail,…

    • Michael Ayling

      The admin of the Garmin Australia facebook page said the Forerunner 920XT will get Connect IQ.

    • Yes. Keep in mind this post was written a week prior to the FR920XT announcement…

  23. I figured this was coming from Garmin at some point, but I am surprised they created a new programming language!

  24. Eli

    Have a feeling this forum may be useful: link to forums.garmin.com

  25. feens

    what would concern me if I were to purchase a product such as this is:
    1) Garmin’s poor history with developers/api’s
    2) Garmin’s poor history with firmware/software stability.

    I can just see it being a nightmare. Heck, I’m amazed they aren’t charging developers $10k just to have api access.

  26. Trash

    Awesome news. Would be great if additional fields can be loaded to a single interface like Google fitness when released.
    Note the square screen on testing, not sure if I’m more worried that the 920xt with support IQ or whether we have to wait till 2015 for the watch to be released!

  27. Peter K

    lets just hope what ever the ‘wearable’ device is its fully waterproof… unlike certain fruit based offerings!

  28. ira

    A good move, but it may be too late to maintain market share given the recent Mediatek and ARM announcements to do far more than this in the wearables market. Garmin’s control over production (good) and ability to deal with extremely buggy SDKs and firmware (not good) from the likes of CSR will be swamped by the advantages of wearables adopting robust platforms and support. In the interests of consumer options, I hope Garmin greatly improves their product robustness, features, support to just stay even with competitors larger and smaller.

    • ira

      As an aside, the 920XT will be announced in the next few days. Seen it. Played with it. With trivial things like a color screen and adopting features already in products like the 620. Not anywhere near enough to hold off the competition for more than just a few months, and certainly doom for Garmin if they think it will be good enough for a 2 year product lifecycle. Or even a 1 year lifecycle. Perhaps only good enough for less than 6 months compared to emerging competition. Garmin is playing out like Blackberry, unfortunately.

    • Julian

      Except that garmin has pretty much every single triathlete using it’s product. The 910 is the most used multisport watch/device out there, even with how dated it is, and the rest of the FR series are in huge demand as well. Go to any race and a significant portion of the people will be wearing a garmin of some sort.

      Blackberry, hell I haven’t even seen one in years in the wild

  29. LukeJ

    Great to hear that they finally realised there is a world outside Garmin:). Finally!

    But I think it may be their swan song. Apple will release their Watch in 2015, which probably will be far more inferior device in fitness section than any of Garmin products. But who knows what will be in two to three years now?

    Innovate or die slowly. That’s how it works I guess. Nobody wants to be new Nokia.

  30. Ray – how do we best approach Garmin to add this to the Edge Bike Computer Series? Holy Cow I’d love to see Skiba metrics on there…

    • To a degree, posting here helps – they’re reading the comments here. At the same time, pressuring your app developers to in turn pressure Garmin for specific use cases where the Edge is a better fit is definitely the right answer.

    • I’m looking at a new Edge early next year for a 5 week sabbatical tour.
      I’d get an Edge 1000 if this were promised (and if the bugs were fixed) otherwise price far too high for a model made obsolete by this news.

  31. Gunnar

    Well, I just got the Garmin fenix SE and have trying to pair it with my Sony Xperia Z2 for two days. No luck, it’s well documented on the Garmin forums to (android issues). I even had issues back when I was using an iPhone 5 and trying to pair my Edge 810.

    I like the ideas presented here, but have doubts they can pull it off considering they can’t seem to get pairing issues streamlined. Luckily you can use the Sportablet app with some decent results for uploading data from forerunners and edge devices.

    • Bart Bouse

      I agree. Currently, I tend to believe if Apple wanted to kill Garmin they could in a heart beat. What’s saving Garmin? Well, the sale of 10 million iphone 6’s in three days. What’s saved Garmin is the fact that, to date, Apple hasn’t been interested in the meager, to them, profits in the gps watch business. That may have changed with the current interest in fitness trackers and connected watches. Why is the Apple watch so eagerly awaited? Primarily because, despite all the interest in fitness trackers and connected watches, all the ones that have come to market suck. Garmin may have the right idea to carve a niche out and survive against the Apple watch by beating others but they are going to have to seriously up their game when they haven’t seamed to get even close on the connected part of their current lineup so far.

    • Scott E

      I can name a few very large cell phone companies that no longer exist due to the economics of Apple’s entry into the market. Their intent is not kill companies, it is to make products that consumers want. This comes to mind every time I see Ray’s rolling pin filled with a ton of sport watches – dizzying array of choices and features, yet not any one of them consumer refined. Cell phone choices use to be that way and now the market cleared out to just a handful of players.

      There will always be room for innovators, and you at least have to give credit to Garmin for working towards reinventing themselves in this space. Culturally turning from proprietary to semi open Eco system is not easy for a company to do – can only imagine the hard conversations that took place to make this change happen.

  32. Bob Quindazzi

    Hmmmm….Love my Edge or 910XT to be able to control my Kickr..

  33. Patrick

    exciting potential :)
    as with many such announcements it raises more questions than it answers.
    have to assume that the fr920xt will support this – given the timing it would be a serious killer to the seemingly imminent 920 launch to not have it.
    the big question is support for the edge line which seems to offer the most potential. will existing devices get a firmware update for support? perhaps not given that the initial focus is on watches. that suggests that edge connect iq has to wait for new edge devices – any rumors what/when that will be? 520 in early 2015 (please)?
    seems like the kind of big step forward that makes buying any device not supporting it a short-term investment (aka throwing money away)

  34. Matthew

    “Alternatively, you can infer what you’d like about the choice of imagery.”

    Very developer.
    Many extensible.
    How color.
    Such uncertain.
    Wow!

  35. tms

    Chalk me up in support of adding this to the Edge series. To me the largest benefit to this is increased turnover of new sensor types and the bike is where there is the most potential for innovation lies (additional power mater metrics, air speed sensors, hydration counters, etc). Right now if someone wants to make something innovative they have to petition Garmin to add support – but if any startup could write their own drivers, it opens a *lot* of doors.

    I upgrade my Edge units far more often than I do my Forerunners for this reason – there is a new sensor type that my current model doesn’t support. Something like this would let me keep them for far longer and thus I’d be a lot more willing to invest in higher prices knowing that.

    This is an area where they have a potential advantage over smartphone platforms. The iOS/Android/WinRT walled garden approach means sensor manufacturers can’t just write drivers for an existing app – they have to write their own from scratch or partner with somebody else. With this, they’d be able to add support without that extra overhead. Further, targetting Garmin is going to get them in front of more customers than any individual app.

  36. David

    This seems to me to be a necessary but HUGE undertaking. Nothing in Garmin’s history of fitness devices, in particular the firmware and software that supports them indicates they are remotely prepared to pull something of this magnitude off. Garmin Connect and the last 3-5 years of Garmin fitness products show repeatedly what a buggy disaster their software solutions have been… I hope for their sake they know what they are getting into and have made the changes necessary to succeed.

  37. Well it looks like I’ll be replacing my shiny new Edge 1000 as soon as a new one comes out – AGAIN.

    When I bought my 810 I told my wife it would last for ages, told her the same when I got my 1000 a year later!

    They really need to enable this on the Edge range but I really doubt they will do it with firmware with my little experience of how Garmin works.

    I miss out on a lot of features that you get from the Strava app on mobile – live segments, friends up ahead ect. If they could write an app (or just a widgte) for my edge to show how I am doing on current segements that would be amazing!

    • Adam

      Hah! You can’t blame Garmin for releasing new products! Their release cycles are glacial compared to the tech giants like Apple and Samsung.

  38. Peronnik Beijer

    My thoughts are less positive at the moment.

    If you monitor the Garmin forums, you will see that there are a lot of problems with the latest Garmin devices and software. The 220/620 and Fenix 2 have big GPS and thus pace problems, not to mention the internal accelorometer probs. On the software side, Garmin Express has big connectivity problems and Garmin Connect is still not working correctly in ‘modern’ form. The list of requested features is huge, simple things like equipment logging are still not implemented.

    And now I know why, Garmin was/is busy creating a new API platform.
    To me it would be better to first solve all current problems and requests, and then advance to a new platform. The fact that Garmin has no hardware ready also doesn’t help.

    • Paul S

      As Ray often says, keep in mind that the forums are a place where people go to complain, not where they go to report normal successful behavior from their devices. I have done over 600 activities with my Edge 800, and it’s crashed only once in the two years I’ve had it. Other Garmin devices have given me more trouble: the closer I buy it to the release date, the more likely there’ll be trouble, not necessarily serious, but annoying. (For example, my VIRB Elite gave the altitude of my driveway at a little over 3000 ft at the beginning of Sunday’s ride, while the actual altitude is 1218 ft. There’s still no way to calibrate it.)

      Nevertheless, my first thought was exactly along the same lines: it’s Garmin. How likely are they to actually be able to pull this off without months of software/hardware problems. (Of course, Apple yesterday released an iOS 8 update that killed cellular connections on the iPhone, so it could happen to anyone. But Apple will have this fixed shortly, maybe today.)

      I don’t fault them for doing this, but I do have my doubts that in the end they can do it without months of pain for the early adopters.

  39. Rodrigo Valle

    This is big news indeed!
    A friend of mine and I are working on a prototype to measure 2 parameters on the bike that I don’t find on regular cycling head units:
    — Instant gradient
    Use a solid-state inclinometer sensor (not GPS info), and convert from angle in degrees to show road gradient in %.
    — Relative and absolute wind speed and direction
    I use 3 holes in the box with pressure sensors, all horizontal. 1 is pointed straight ahead and 2 angled at 45 degrees to the sides. Then I do the math for the difference in pressure from the 3 holes, add in the current speed from a wheel sensor, and come up with relative and absolute speed and direction of the wind.
    This is used against the power meter reading, to have an idea of the “real power need”, as a strong headwing can really distort power data in relation to gradient and speed.

    The “head unit” is just a plastic box with an Arduino board and batteries inside.
    I am recording the data to internal memory, and downloading it to my laptop after a ride.

    With Connect IQ, I gues I will be able to add an ANT+ module to my arduino and send the wind/gradient information to a compatible Garmin Edge head unit. Then I will create an app to show the data, and record it to the .FIT file! This is great! Can’t ait to try it out.

    Or better yet, have Garmin add the same features to their units and save me the trouble… :)

    • Paul S

      Keep us informed of your progress! Real time wind speed is one of those things I’d Really Like To Know. (Of course, if your sensor costs as much as a power meter does, it’ll remain in the Really Like To Know category.) Incline would be useful, too, since my Edge 800 doesn’t do a particular good job of it in real time (but does much better that VIRB Edit after the fact).

    • @Rodrigo Valle – would you contact me about this project if you have a chance? Google my name for contact info. Thanks.

  40. Mrfish

    Peronnik above is the first post in 57 to hit the nail on the head.

    I don’t give a stuff about colour screens, apps that talk to my phone and esoteric sensor combinations (power balance, run metrics, …) that even PhD exercise scientists don’t know how to interpret.

    What I want is a small, basic and convenient training support device that records my tri training activities across a range of sports (cycle, pool, lake swim, run, gym), keeps working (no bugs, waterproof, 15h battery, reasonably robust), shows some basic metrics while training (user defined screens with 2,3,4 metrics) and sends my workouts to trainingpeaks with minimal intervention (wifi, bluetooth).

    At the back end software which integrates with Trainingpeaks so that it automatically downloads the week’s workouts and prompts today’s workout when started would be nice. To keep menus very simple I’d be happy to leave all the configuration options on the computer and only be able to exercise with it. Even cleverer would be to have a page in the watch which shows the specific metrics needed to do the workout of the day.

    I think there is definitely room for a device which “just works” and does the triathlon training basics really well.

    • Dom

      Thing is, though, you start off describing a watch which is very simple, then list things which tend to be found in higher end watches (handling both pool and open water swimming), then list some things which ‘would be nice’ which are actually very, very specialised and dependent on a third-party API (TP workouts, which tend to be used by people serious enough about their sport to have a paid TP subscription, which is not *that* big a group, and is not ‘just’ doing triathlon basics really well). That last part is the sort of thing which would be better handled by an app which is not part of the core of the watch, so you don’t necessarily need to wait for a full firmware upgrade to fix it, and indeed it could, once this program has been going for a few years, be updated on watches which are old enough not to get FW updates any more but remain compatible with the framework.

      Think of it this way: a watch which does the things everybody wants really well, but is extensible to do the things you always wish your current watch could do, but the designers didn’t put it in for whatever reason.

      My training site of choice is a fairly small UK-based site which I doubt Garmin have ever heard of. Between its API and this framework, I suspect I could make an app to send my workouts straight there via smartphone.

    • Dom

      “wait for a full firmware upgrade to fix it”
      should be
      “wait for a full firmware upgrade to fix compatibility with changes in the third-party API”

    • Mrfish

      Fair point about the TP integration. However I just read that the latest Polar watches do exactly this within Polar Flow. I just don’t want to use Flow.

      On the other hand the stuff about wanting ‘high end’ functions is an IT response to what I think is a pretty basic need. Anyone who is training for a triathlon will have a use case involving 3 sports, plus indoor versions while training. So why can’t watch companies sort this out before fiddling with BS like run dynamics and power balance?

    • Polar watches don’t integrate to TP.

    • Eli

      Tomtom watch as your basic watch?

    • Dom

      On the other hand the stuff about wanting ‘high end’ functions is an IT response to what I think is a pretty basic need. Anyone who is training for a triathlon will have a use case involving 3 sports, plus indoor versions while training. So why can’t watch companies sort this out before fiddling with BS like run dynamics and power balance?
      I’m not sure what exact point you’re making. As far as the actual features go, the 910xt supported both indoor and outdoor swimming long before run dynamics came along on the 620. As far as getting them exactly right goes, they’re both difficult things to do well; that’s why they’re on top-end or single-purpose watches. I entirely agree that they’re a fundamental need for a triathlete, but they are much harder than power balance (where the heavy lifting is done by the power meter and the watch doesn’t have to do a lot more than pick up the data stream fast enough). I am actually going to give you a very IT response now, by linking you to yesterday’s xkcd cartoon link to xkcd.com

  41. a_circelli

    My favourite APP: garmin (920?) in indoor swim mode, connect to Mio link HR monitor near to it; so I have hr monitor and count lenght, swim style etc. Is it so difficult?

  42. Tyler

    How about custom Swim workouts for the 910 or other swim-specific watches?

    Been listed as ‘COMING SOON!’ for 2 years now.
    Longtime Garmin fan, but my faith in their ability to push quality software updates is fading fast.
    Without that, their quality hardware is much less valuable.

  43. David

    I actually have a couple of things that I would like to do with this:
    1. NGP/GAP data field, I have no flat land near me. I would love to see a pace value that is adjusted for the hills real-time (or slightly delayed depending on the need to filter the sensors.)
    2. I would really like a “Track Workout” application. Display all distances in metric, ignore altimeter (basically calibrate elevation at “start” and record the entire workout at that elevation regardless of GPS or barometer), turn off auto-lap. I assume that some of this could be accomplished with the different activity programming of the Fenix series. But I think the metric/statute toggle has to be global. (I only have a 910XT, so I’m not sure.)
    3. Similar to #2, if I do a swim workout in a “meter” pool, I want the distances displayed in meters. If I swim in a “yards” pool, I want the distances displayed in yards.

    I’m about halfway through the programmer’s guide. I do see that the simulator can playback .fit files for your program to use as if that was real data. That’s kind of cool. It will help with my NGP/GAP calculator.

    • Yeah, they demo’d the playback piece to me (just didn’t quite have the time to include it above), very cool though for exactly what you mentioned. And perfect for lots of testing scenarios.

  44. AECSUSN

    Curious to see what Ifor Powell will do with this and his awesome app IPbike…

    • Yup, he was here at the ANT+ Symposium (actually got to meet him!), so I suspect he’s thinking up all sorts of things…

    • With my current time limits I am not likely to do anything in a hurry.

      The standard device should have most of the functionality I provide so I see little point. All I could do is use it like the any other ‘dumb’ watch just as a display and control interface for IpBike still running on the phone. It’s not exciting. Only the likes of the TrueSmart count as ‘Smart’ watches in my book, they will run IpBike direct with no work needed on my part but Google look to be trying to kill them off with the button-less Wear devices which will be interesting in the wet. 2 buttons and a knob you can make a locked out touchscreen UI work with…

      I suspect the Wahoo API based display are more likely to happen as they are cheaper and hence more likely to be used by people looking for a cheaper solution which is where I fit in.

      I did download the SDK and have a chat with the Garmin folks. As the system is still tightly coupled to Garmin Connect I asked about the $5000 fee for getting the data back off it and did not get a good answer straight out so I got the impression they had not really thought it through properly.

  45. Mark Antrobus

    I found the comment bringing comparing Magellan Echo very interesting especially if you compare with the half baked situation Pebble has ended up in and “underwhelming” apps for that platform

    imo any new wearable platform / sdk needs cooperation from the big hitters in fitness industry – in our case that means likes of Strava, Wahoo Fitness – basically because thats what we all use to record; and then push to back end of our choice Training Peaks, Connect etc. Magellan have a winner with the Echo because they have that buy in. You can start and stop activities, lap etc. from device. But can we assume this will happen by default for any given new platform – compare with experience existing ones.

    I wanted to “do an Echo” using Pebble watch – seemed to be a winner all round – its a “platform” which should be able to support RFLKT like functionality. Android / Pebble big hole in market – i actually think the Pebble hardware, battery life, waterproofing etc. puts it above more recent wearables for fitness use. There is a Pebble SDK and a Wahoo Fitness API.

    But …. 0 interest from Wahoo Fitness because as they see it “nothing in it for them”. I documented experience here link to forums.getpebble.com

    The benefit of having industry name behind this platform will obviously help but danger is end up with lot of well meaning amateurs re-implementing functionality from apps written by people with hard earned domain knowledge just because the companies behind those apps won’t supply sdk’s to leverage

    As someone commented above certain peoples products have reputation for freezing a little more often than others running just the code from the “professionals” :)

    • In that thread, Chip and Murray are not the same. Chip is the founder/owner (and very sharp tech guy), and Murray is one of the lead developers (also very sharp).

      In any event I see what they’re seeing from a business standpoint however. Re-writing things for Pebble would likely be a fairly big lift and would really likely require Pebble to invest in it. Keep in mind that it’s not so much just about displaying data, but the API pretty much becomes the entire watch (including when in non-activity pieces).

  46. Looks like a great step forwards – full marks to Garmin for getting their act together.

    Thanks for the article, Ray!

    http://www.oxygenaddict.com triathlon coaching

  47. I would love to see GPS enabled android watch, that is one with a GPS chip. User configurable GPS recording Ie. 1 sec, 5 sec, etc would be a bonus but is already available with several apps. Bluetooth/Ant+ and waterproofing would need to be present as well. Everything else could be done with software. It seems like Garmin are going down this path… Suunto did as well…

    A player like Samsung could wipe Garmin, Polar and Suunto off the map if they made a watch wit built in GPS. All the watch needs is enough muscle to record the various data streams being broadcast by the ancillary BT/Ant+ devices. My Samsung Galaxy Note 3 has Ant+ and Bluetooth built in! The apps that already exist in the ecosystem could be used with modifications to UI / Screen size.

    Poor battery life in the current “smart” watch ecosystem (Moto 360, Gear Live) is a major concern and one that is being addressed with resources Garmin and Suunto can’t possibly match. Customers are hammering them on this front and they can’t possible ignore it. They (Samsung, LG, Motorola) will get the battery right.

    I have a Pebble and it performs admirably considering the size of the Pebble team, time to market and functionality. They are also toast in the long run unless they can do something very unique.

    Garmin, Suunto and Polar have a lot to worried about. Apple and Samsung already own the majority of pockets and they are coming after our wrists…

  48. James

    I might as well ask this for every Garmin story you do, have you heard if Garmin have any plans to add apps for Window phones? Thanks again

  49. Paul

    It’s a shame that current devices won’t be able to use this. Maybe a third party could actually get my Edge 810 to do turn by turn directions for more than 10 minutes, as it seems completely beyond Garmin.

  50. Joe

    What about bluetooth connectivity (read: go pro hero4) to control such devices with any garmin watch?

  51. Jim M

    Hey Ray, any word on if Garmin plans on releasing a watch with a built in heart rate monitor (no heart rate strap)? Similar to the TomTom Cardio Running watch? I own the Garmin 620 and to me that is one of the biggest drawbacks. If Garmin can extend the battery life and pack an optical heart rate monitor that would be a very good watch in my opinion. Looks like the Apple Watch is going to beat Garmin on this, however the battery life on the Apple Watch could be a deal breaker for me and other people that emphasize the importance of battery life.

    • I don’t expect to see that in the future. The challenge is a bit of the technology. While it works well for me, and for perhaps 90-95% of people, that still leaves 5-10% of people that have issues with it. For a company of Garmin’s size and distribution, it’s really tough to have that failure level. Word of issues would spread too fast and they’d be in a tough spot.

      While it’s easy to assume Apple will beat Garmin, keep in mind it’s not released yet. Samsung released the same feature set and it is completely useless on those devices. To some degree, people just shrug because it’s Samsung. I don’t think people will give Apple the same pass though, to the same degree that they might give TomTom a pass but not Garmin.

    • Paul S

      You realize also that you’re asking for two contradictory things. You want a new built in sensor that eats battery and better battery life. I don’t know how much power optical sensors draw, but it isn’t zero. So the only way to do that is with a bigger battery, so a bigger 620 successor. If it also does “activity tracking”, that’ll draw a little more power.

      The key thing that Apple didn’t mention at their presentation is the battery life of the Apple Watch. I’ve seen/heard a lot of people say that if they have to plug it in during the day, then it’s not for them. It’ll be a success if normal usage (not including long sessions of Tiny Angry Birds) means that it needs to be charged once a day. More often than that, then I don’t think it will do all that well (but then I didn’t see what the point of the iPad was, and there are 3 in the house, all of them not mine). My daughter wants a Apple Watch, so I’ll see one once it’s released. I’m not likely to get one myself.

    • Jim M

      Thanks Ray for your response. The biggest issue for me is the optical heart rate monitor built into the watch. For my Garmin 620, I thought it would not be a big deal to use the chest heart rate monitor strap but it really irritates my skin and I am done messing around with it. I will be disappointed if Garmin never comes out with this product in the near future. I will be following the Apple Watch closely to see if it meets my needs. Otherwise, I may end up getting the Tom Tom cardio watch after all.

    • Jim M

      Hi Paul, I guess I can’t have it both ways when it comes to battery life as of right now. Hopefully in the near future new battery technology can significantly extend the run time of running watches. To me a perfect running watch would be to have the following:

      1) Running metrics of the Garmin 620 (GPS sensor built in)
      2) Optical heart rate monitor sensor built into the watch
      3) Long battery life, I hate having to remember to charge my watch almost everyday after I run with it. If the battery life was lets say double that of the Garmin 620, that would be perfect!
      4) GPS accuracy increased when running near high buildings/hilly terrain. When I ran the Vegas half marathon last year, the GPS on the watch performed inconsistently at times.

  52. Justin Fabian

    Is there any possibility that an app could be written to mirror the screen of the 920XT on the Wahoo RFLKT+ (sans smartphone)?

  53. Alex

    Would love to see this on an new Edge device! I like my Fenix but the potential on the Edge series is huge!

  54. JakiChan

    I’m sure they want to sell new hardware, but I find it hard to believe that the Edge 1000 couldn’t handle this.

    • I don’t think they’re saying that. They’re simply saying at this point it was focused on ‘wearables’, but that they’re open to feedback on whether the Edge lineup makes sense.

    • JakiChan

      My concern is that they seemed to imply that they would ONLY offer this functionality on new gear, and the 1000 is a little too new to be obsolete already.

  55. eli

    Garmin rep (I.e.employee) at army 10 miler in DC said connect iq will work on 4 watches around time of release, the 920 being the only fitness watch supported. So no support on the 620 and no other running watch that will support connect iq (so no 620 replacement either direct like the edge 810 over the 800 or indirect like the edge 1000 over the 810)

    He also while annoyed at clever training applying a discount said they will probably get the watch mid November. (So do I wait our spend $50 more and buy now as they have the watch here at full price?)

    • As noted, there’s no plans for the FR620 to get ConnectIQ support.

      That said, don’t believe everything a Garmin Regional Sales rep in the field says on pretty much everything else you noted…

  56. conor

    So, in theory, a developer could write an app that displays turn by turn directions fed from a smartphone?
    I believe some android watches currently do this with google maps i.e the moto 360 does not have gps but displays location and directions once connected to an android phone

  57. Ben

    Hey, thanks for the article on this. So will the watches have a screen with multiple apps (like smartphones) or do you install one app and it works more like a ‘theme’ that takes over the native watch ui? Thanks :)

  58. researchisyourfriend

    I think 2015 is going to be an exciting time for you guys. you can expect a lot of app based items :)

  59. PintX

    Hi there. Does anyone know where to get the code of that watchface (the dog one) so I can select another image to create my own dog watchface?. I still do not know how to program it. Thanks in advance and sorry if this is not the right place to such a question.

  60. Duncan

    Add me to the list of people wanting the edge 1000 to be compatible with connect iq. A strava app on the edge 1000 would be unbeatable! Please integrate this!

  61. Horst

    Hi,

    I would be very happy if someone would program an app for the Tanita BC1000.

    Unfortunately Garmin 920XT has so neutered compared to the 910XT in this regard.

    Greeting Horst

  62. Rob

    Can the Fenix 3 get a Golf Course app like the VivoSmart or Approach watches, via Connect IQ???

  63. Hi,

    Another vote for Garmin IQ support in Edge 1000. Any news on the subject?

    Best regards,
    Adam

  64. dallas johnson

    Are Garmin Apps dead?
    I was hoping to see a XC skiing specific app by now, but I see almost no new third party apps.
    Thoughts?

    • Paul S.

      For that specific case, Garmin already provides an XC skiing app for certain watches (it’s on my Epix). It’s odd that they don’t provide it on all of their ConnectIQ watches or on their app store, but the fact that it exists might keep developers away.

    • dj

      I’ve heard about the epix, but it’s not available for the 920xt.

  65. TGM

    Is Connect IQ dead? developer.garmin.com seems to timeout…