Last week Garmin ever so quietly added so-called ‘Connected GPS’ functionality to the Garmin Connect Mobile application, while concurrently releasing a firmware update for the Vivosmart 4 (which came a year ago), as well as incorporating it into the base Vivomove 3 announced last Thursday. The functionality essentially gives these wearables GPS, as they don’t have GPS chipsets inside already. This functionality follows with what Fitbit added many years ago for their GPS-less wearables, under the ‘Connected GPS’ name as well.
This allows you to not only record a GPS track leveraging your phone’s GPS capabilities, but also get/see speed and distance on your wearable, despite not having any sensors or GPS in the unit itself. This is especially notable with cycling, since it can’t instead use the accelerometer like it can for walking/running activities. Which, by the way, is a good time to note that Garmin also now added in cycling as a sport to the Vivosmart 4 too.
Since this is something that many people have been asking about for years, I figured I’d give it a super quick whirl around the block. Or more specifically, a whirl on this morning’s bike commute.
Setup & Configuration:
Setup is silly easy, but first you’ll want to make sure your device is fully up to date. In the case of the Vivomove 3 it comes with the required software, whereas if you’ve got the Vivosmart 4, you’ll need to update the firmware. Garmin’s smartphone app has likely already done that for you in the background in the last week or so, but you can force the issue using Garmin Express on the desktop with the charging cable. You’re looking to be on firmware version 4.0 or higher.
The above screenshot was the highlight of my little Vivosmart 4’s life. It’s been living its life from box to box, ultimately now in a clear Rubbermaid container on a shelf next to dozens of other containers. But today….today it was called into duty!
And in fact, it’s exactly why I go out and get my own units after returning the loaner ones – for posts like these (and comparison shots in reviews). This would be the first time this device got to experience the wilds of outdoors. Or even being charged. It’s life is now fulfilled.
In any event, assuming you’ve got your wearable all updated, also go ahead and make sure your iOS or Android app is updated too. You’ll need the latest version of Garmin Connect Mobile on there in order to see the new connected GPS features.
And that’s it, there’s nothing else to do or configure.
This is equally as simple. To use the connected mode you’ll go to start a workout like you normally would by tapping the little runner man (or woman) icon.
You’ll then choose your sport (remember you defined those within the app under More > Garmin Devices > Activity Options), which is a good time to point out that as part of this same firmware update (4.00), Garmin has added cycling as an activity.
So, I selected cycling for my ride to work:
After you’ve selected your sport on the device itself, it’ll ask you whether you want to “Use Phone GPS?”:
If you choose ‘Yes’, it’ll go ahead and ensure it can connect to your phone. Once it’s done, it’ll confirm that. It might take a few seconds, and in some cases I had to open my phone up for it to make the initial connection, then I could stick it in my pocket.
After confirming it’s connected you’ll see a small phone icon next to your sport, indicating the connection to your phone for connected GPS. Simply double-tap like normal to start the workout.
And then at this point you’re off and recording like normal, now with heart rate and GPS for distance. In fact, you’ll see distance as well as speed for cycling as options within the configurable data fields on your smartphone:
And while out riding (or whatever it is you do), you’ll see that metric here as well. In my case, I just did a commute to the office as my test. Nothing fancy. The top line is the distance. Sorry, the photo makes the display look funky, the refresh rate on these types of wearables makes it really tough for cameras to get good clean photos (and in this case, my main camera battery had died so I had to use my phone).
Afterwards I saved the short track, and sure enough you’ll now get a map on Garmin Connect/Garmin Connect Mobile. Note you’ll see it shows ‘Connected GPS’ on the lower left side.
And here’s how that GPS looked accuracy-wise connected to my iPhone X on my bike’s handlebars with a Quadlock mount, as compared to the dedicated GPS of the Garmin Venu on the other wrist:
In general it’s pretty close, but there are cases where the Connected GPS Vivosmart 4 goes a bit askew, such as this section here (the Venu is spot-on):
And then again a bit later where it went to the wrong road again. In fact, in both cases it appears to lock onto a nearby road (yet I was on the bike path next to it). Which is kinda funny. I’m not aware of any logic to do that, so these could be just coincidence versus some sort of actual logic using phone data.
Ultimately, the dedicated GPS of Venu was better than the iPhone X connected Vivosmart 4. Here’s the full GPS track for those that want to dig into it. As I noted, it’s not very long, just my commute with a bit extra/tweaked for good measure.
In general when I’m looking at ‘Connected GPS’ type implementations, you have to remember that the phone’s GPS accuracy is a big part of it. But it’s not the whole picture. Virtually every mainstream app that leverages GPS for fitness also does some smoothing, tweaking, and otherwise modification of the data coming in. Sometimes to ‘fix’ issues with it, and sometimes making things worse. While undoubtedly Garmin has boatloads of GPS experience, they don’t to my knowledge have boatloads of phone-based GPS fitness track experience. As such, I suspect we’ll see them stumble through all the weird idiosyncrasies of various phone models/vendors over the next few months as people find weird quirks. This can also include quirks around things like dropouts of GPS or connectivity.
These quirks are realistically the same stuff Fitbit has had to deal with for years, so they’ll have a bit of a jumpstart there. Though I don’t think that’ll matter a ton. Garmin’s launching this on two products that in the grand scheme of the wearables world are pretty low-volume. Thus, they’ll be able to work things out without too many nitpicky folks noticing.
In any case – for now though – it’s a cool little feature that seems to work as expected, once you get it up and running.
(Side note: Some folks (including me) have noted some quirks with getting the new cycling sport to show up in the app, or on the device. I tried restarting the app without luck, but I followed someone on the Garmin Forums saying to restart the phone (yes, it’s odd). That didn’t work for me though does for some. Nor would the device successfully connect to GPS on the phone either initially. Ultimately, after ensuring my firmware was fully updated, I went into the settings on the Vivosmart 4 and simply reset it back to factory defaults with data deletion, and then deleted the Vivosmart 4 out of my Garmin Connect Mobile app, as well as deleted the listing in the Bluetooth control panel. Then I re-paired it like a new watch. Note you don’t lose any data in Garmin Connect this way, so as long as you’re sync is done before you delete, the whole operation will take only about 2-3 minutes. I suspect that something was stuck where the smartphone app wasn’t seeing the new 4.0 firmware on my device, and thus not opening the doors to all the new features. In any case, hope this helps someone.)
It’s pretty much a no-brainer that Garmin’s going to include this in any new GPS-less wearable products going forward, such as they did last week with the Vivomove. Though, I suspect, like Fitbit, they’ll keep it to the mid-range GPS-less devices. For example, Fitbit doesn’t actually offer this on their lower end ($69) Fitbit Inspire trackers. Only things starting at about $99 with the Inspire HR support it. In Garmin’s case, I’ve gotta believe that’d translate to the basic Vivofit series not getting it. But perhaps I’ll be wrong in the future.
I think there are actually some cooler use cases within the Garmin ecosystem for this though. For example, the new V2 speed sensors that have offline storage on them. I’d love to see a simple toggle where I could have it automatically create an actual GPS track when the speed sensor wakes up and talks to the phone (anytime the wheel starts). Then from there I’d love to see heat-maps of my cycling over time in my Garmin Connect account.
Given that functionality of the new sensors is really targeted at bike commuters, it’d be a super cool feature, especially in a monthly summary report like what Google and others do around location data.
And of course longer-term I’d love to see clean hand-offs between devices and the phone. For example – say your Garmin Edge device is running low on battery during the final few miles of a century ride, down to its last 1%, and you need a bit more time – how about handing off the completion of that GPS track to the phone? This way it all ends up on a single activity. Again, I’m not asking for Garmin to recreate Strava, I’m looking for Garmin to find ways for this to complement the devices people buy. And this feature is hardly unprecedent – Apple actually does the inverse to save battery: By default, if your phone is with you, Apple Watch will use that signal instead.
In any case, you and I can come up with cool ideas all day long (perhaps drop them down below), but for now – this is a perfectly functional first attempt at connected GPS for Garmin’s wearables.
With that – thanks for reading!
Given these news, are you expecting any news short-term within the vivo-world, or are new wearables ( e.g. vivosmart 5) far away down the road?
No, nothing expected in that realm.
What would be the harm if Garmin created a Strava competitor?
I’d argue that’d be bad for a lot of reasons:
A) Unlikely to be device-agnostic
B) Unlikely to do anything but be a drain on Garmin’s other product divisions
C) We rarely see Garmin innovate in web services
On the flip side:
A) We rarely see Strava innovate
B) Maybe that’d make Strava do something
C) Garmin pretty much ‘own’ Strava anyways these days
*Own = Indirectly via requirement for Strava’s premium services in order to use certain features on a Garmin.
I really hope this is the start of Garmin revisiting their Garmin Fit app. Would love to once again be able to record an activity with my phone.
That’s right! Forgot about that little thing. Those were the days!
Super old-school review on that way back when: link to dcrainmaker.com
surely the problem there is that garmin want to sell hardware?
an app (unless paid for) will reduce the sales volume of hardware
and, garmin software is usually rubbish
Or its the gateway drug like Polar Flow was with me when I started running. When I got serious about it, I ordered the Polar bluetooth HRM, and then a little more serious and I got an M400.
@Benjamine This! With a little extra effort in Garmin Connect and a companion app Garmin could get people “hooked” on their ecosystem. This has been Apple’s approach, and slowly building their paid offerings after getting people on the free iCloud services. Although you do now pretty much need an Apple device, they started with iTunes which ran everywhere. Having all my data on Garmin Connect is the primary reason I tend to only consider Garmin.
Wouldn’t introducing new users to Garmin’s rubbish software drive them elsewhere?
People buy Garmin wearables because the hardware looks nice.
Nice addition. This also probably means that the Vivosport won’t have a 2nd version, right?
Not sure, but I’d question if there’s much of a market for Vivosport at this point.
On the topic of Activity trackers, do you have any thoughts on Whoop? I’m not a fan of their subscription model but I wonder if it deserves the following.
Yup, I’ve got one here in the pile I bought this summer. Just getting through the other things on my wrist first.
I tried one awhile back. I was disappointed. Not that great. I do have an Oura Ring and like most of the info. Of course, my trusty Garmin 245 handles all the running.
Shout out to Ray,76 today- current road running miles-91,602 and counting! Nick
So can you record an activity directly through the Garmin app?
I was on holiday and forgot my Garmin 935 charger, so ended up using the Strava app. Then had to export the TCX and import into Garmin Connect.
Would be useful if I could record through the app directly as a backup.
No, still requires a Garmin wearable device to initiate the recording. Nothing actually in the app itself to start one.
Any idea if this will come to the Vivomove HR? It’s a really expensive device to not have GPS but otherwise perfect, adding this would make my wife very pleased.
Also any idea if it will come to to Vivosmart HR? Would be great if it got this update as well.
As your final comments note this is also how Garmin should safeguard LiveTrack when connected to a device that does have GPS.
If you start LiveTrack it should continue working regardless of whether the phone is actively paired to your Edge device. You can always stop Live Track manually after your ride/run.
As long as the phone is functioning Live Track should map your movements whether paired or not.
If cell phone coverage is spotty during a ride/run, update the track as soon as phone service returns.
The only thing that should affect LiveTrack mapping is loss of GPS signal, but even that could be “patched” as soon as the connection resumes (connect the dots).
Hopefully this is how Garmin intends to fix LiveTrack once and for all.
If you start a LiveTrack session it should never go dead unless your purposely stop the session on your phone — or the paired device ends the workout session.
Yup, totally agree. Though, I would caveat it that it shouldn’t use the phone’s GPS (since that kills battery), until the point of loss of connectivity to the Edge/Forerunner/whatever, in which case it should failover gracefully.
I know there’s a bunch of backend changes around LiveTrack that they started earlier this summer after my post, which they say will manifest itself sometime later this year.
My Livetrack used to be rubbish prior to your previous post (attack?) on Garmin. Funnily enough, since shortly after then, it’s actually been pretty reliable (Kiss of death….).
Not sure whether there have been any backend changes specifically on the live track piece since then.
Oh a working livetrack, that would be something, like a long warm summer or a traffic free bike ride. Maybe I should give it another go if you have had success.
Yeah, I don’t know to what extent improvements have been made already. I know around the same time my post came out they suffered some semi-unrelated web services issues that took down Livetracking (among other things). So I could see some IT process improvements that might have been easy to implement and would be visible in overall uptime.
Garmin should drop this segment (waste of money) and concentrate his developers’ effort to improve Connect…
To users, I would recommend the FR 645. It has everything (except multisport in one activity) they will ever need.
oooh.. I gotcha… this is for walking zombies, who are smartphone addicted…
Nah, this also is for people who either wear an advanced fitness watch on the other arm, but also like often swapping that out for a nice watch. In this case, you prefer the smallest possible wearable for the other wrist that you can wear all the time. Notably, the vivosmart 4 has the most advanced sensors (HRV, pulse ox, minus GPS – so stress and body battery functions) at the lowest price & the smallest package for everyday use. I swap in an advanced garmin device on the other wrist that has GPS but no HR – no constant HR monitoring makes the battery on that watch last much longer for GPS-worthy events. Combining the two creates the perfect scenario for me, and Garmin Connect merges data from the two sources seamlessly. VS4 never comes off, nice watch on the other wrist most of the time, swap in advanced GPS watch when appropriate.
+1 – although I now largely ditched the nice watch and the a Vivosmart 3 and just wear the 935 constantly. I do miss my nice watch at times and wonder whether I could pull off wearing the 935 and the auto on different wrists. I see Ray wearing two watches all the time and the recently had a post on HODINKEE about it (albeit in reference to the Apple Watch as opposed to a Garmin watch)….
I agree. Once the all-day-every-day thing on your non-watch hand is small enough to be concealed under a shirt sleeve like the VS4, you are free to swap in whatever watch (and whatever brand) is appropriate to the activity. Nice watch, advanced fitness watch, Apple watch, Android Wear, swap ’em around. But further, even the newest, baddest fitness watches only recently (e.g Fenix 6) started using the bio sensors found in the VS4 for a year now. Same for any other advanced watch, there’s nothing out there that beats the VS4 biometric sensors, the difference is only in the ABC sensors & specific built-in activity training apps that come with advanced fitness watches (exception: and Apple ECG, but that’s probably at most a once-a-day thing). It’s far too expensive to upgrade a Fenix every time a new bio sensor comes out. VS line always has the newest sensors available for ~$140, and the data can be correlated. I could upgrade to every one of the next SEVEN Vivosmart models to always have the newest bio sensors (they always come to the simple devices first) for the price of a SINGLE Fenix watch which uses a bio sensor that is almost obsolete on the day it’s released. Don’t get me wrong, I love a great standalone GPS / compass / thermometer / altimeter / waypoint / mapping watch, and the VS4 has none of that. I just like the combination better. Aside: I don’t like the trend we’re seeing of the advanced watches being available without the bio sensors; HR and pulse ox seem to be on all the Fenix 6 models (can’t get a lower priced model without HR and pulse ox). I think Garmin might be on to my plan. Bottom line, I’d hate to see Garmin eliminate this line like OP is suggesting, making it seem like it’s only a device for amateurs. That’s *really* not the case at all.
I would also really like to see the V2 speed sensor connection. I got the V2 for a commuter bike, and to have a tracking of use would be really cool. If accuracy is poor, than it would not matter.
Another use case that I would really like would be as a backup for the GPS on most units in case of use in area with poor reception. In running/cycling activities there might be areas with poor reception for GPS where the mobile should be better on track. As an example there will be a local half marathon soon -http://ryfastløpet.no/ – where is 20km in tunnels under water. I would assume the phone would be better to track location in tunnels when your 400meter below sea level than the GPS.
But this leverages the phone’s GPS chip also, not the Cell phone tower triangulation (I think), so the result would be the same.
Doubt it’s leveraging the GPS chip directly. Probably just taking GPS points that’s given by the phone. Whether the GPS points is assisted by cell tower, bluetooth and WiFi triangulation would depend on the settings of the phone.
It actually depends on how the app queries for it. An example on iOS: link to developer.apple.com
Hey Ray man, I can’t believe the amount of info you have been putting out lately. It is amazing to me that you are able to keep up with all the announcements lately from EuroBike, fall trainers and now indoor bikes, Apple’s September event and now Garmin’s annual refresh of most of their watches! You are still the premier site for real, actionable data on these products and even have the most efficient forum for their discussion because of your hands-on in the comments. A huge thank you to you, and to Bobbi for keeping everything else running, while continuing to expand the workforce 😉
Thanks Mike – appreciate it!
I am new to Garmin, just yesterday she arrived. I have had my trusty Fitbit Charge2 (Bessie) for 3 years. But she is getting old. I searched the net for SpO2 tracking and more, because I’m old and have sleep apnea. Bessie couldn’t give me what I needed anymore. I wear a CPAP, but just at night.
After checking out all the new ones out on the net, I chose a Vivosmart4 (Vivo to me, better than calling her Garmin) for her great apps and her SpO2. Looked good to me, as best I could tell on the net.
Then she arrived. Not looking at all like my Bessie. She is so much thinner. Almost anorexic on my so masculine arm. I could hardly see that she had a screen at all. I had trouble touching her with my big fingers. But I had high hopes about her apps.
I took her out for a walk. She registered my steps, as she should. Her apps were beautiful when I looked at them after. So colorful and complex. I was happy to see more of Vivo.
Bessy came along on the walk, discretely on my other arm. Vivo was unaware. They seemed to agree on so much, unbeknownst to Vivo.
Then I took Vivo (and Bessy) out into the back (and front) 40 to mow. Not so elegant a pastime as walking. It was like Vivo didn’t register what I was doing. She didn’t see my steps. She was oblivious, or comatose. Bessy registered it all, as usual. I was disheartened.
Then I looked into Vivo’s family. I should have done so before. I had been enraptured by her apps. None of her Garmin family seem to register physical activity like mowing or treadmill that didn’t involve arm waving. Perhaps Garmin has only histrionics in its past. The Fitbit family registers both.
Still, Bessie’s time is at hand. I can send Vivo back whence she came and look again: to the Fitbit family, or to Garmin for Vivo’s new relatives, or elsewhere.
Drats, not Apple.
Forsooth, will there ever be a Pixel Watch to save the day?
Can I just hide Vivo in my sock while I mow?
To be continued.
I for one, got a kick out of this comment. Great stuff.
Can sympathize on Garmin wearables and mowing grass. Garmin devices give NO LOVE to those steps. Fenix 5 and Fenix 6 owner here. Prior Fitbits would could thousands more steps.
New F6 does have a “pocket mode” that may count these steps. Have not tested it.
Made me smile too – I thought I was likely the only person sad enough to hang on to an old VivoSmart so I can stuff it in my sock when I’m mowing the lawn so I don’t get cheated out of any steps, but maybe I’m not alone 🙂
I just chatted with Lula at Garmin customer service on line. Not sure she wasn’t artificial. When I told her my Vivo did not measure steps when mowing she said it only measures arm movement. So it doesn’t measure steps. No apology given for missing real steps. When I said that there is no way to add missing steps manually, even though you can add miles with no steps (??). She said Garmin doesn’t want us to enter fake steps. I said that they weren’t fake steps they were real ones that Garmin missed…. Conversation did not go anywhere further, except in circles about arm waving. She wished me a nice day and hoped that she had been helpful. She disappeared before I could respond to that. So stick it in your sock if want mow steps. Or buy a Fitbit.
What I find more annoying, is that I can spend most of the day on my bike and not even have enough time to meet my step goal, 80 miles and I look like a duffer. At least Apple Watch measures extra calories instead of steps so you get credit for exercise not arm waves.
If I did 80 miles on my bike, I wouldn’t care about my step goal.
So the Vivosmart 4 step count issue continues. Not only does it not count steps when I mow, it does not count steps when I play pickleball. Those are my real exercises. Garmin customer service says that it only measures arm motion as the reason for not getting mowing steps. But Fitbit gets mowing steps. My arms and legs move a lot in pickleball. Fitbit gets those steps too, Garmin doesn’t. I expect that the Garmin step problem applies to all their devices. I am not going to buy a Garmin watch to find out. I am returning my Vivosmart 4. I will keep using my Fitbit Charge2 until it dies. I have ordered a Fitbit Versa 2. I need a device that measures steps. Garmin doesn’t. Fitbit does.
an interesting angle on this is that, when combined with the backporting of new firstbeat features to the edge 1030, it seems maybe garmin have finally recognised that they need to show some love to their existing customers rather than forcing us to buy new devices to get functionality that our current garmin devices are perfectly capable of.
if so, it somewhat paradoxically makes me more inclined to buy a new garmin device, knowing that it will not be immediately left behind as has generally been the case until now.
I think it was cheaper to develop connected GPS to the Vivosmart 4 than building a Vivosmart 5. But they needed to do it to keep on par with the competition.
I think the Vivosmart 4 is a nice device for users like my wife:
-playing volleyball in a team: no device possible/needed
-doing some bodyweight workouts: she is doing it with the Nike app and not recording any activity there
-biking: she is using a cheap sigma for speed, time and distance and always asking to see my tracks from the edge/forerunner when we do a ride together. Now she can do it on her own and will maybe buy a cheap edge some day
-hiking: she is always demanding to see the tracks from the watch
-seldom running: she was using strava on the phone, but was always unhappy with it. Not unhappy enough and not often enough to buy a forerunner
-daily activity tracking (steps and flights): We always compete in a small group of friends.
This kind of user will be attracted a lot more to the Garmin system now.
For the edge: With every review of the 530/830, it was said that the 1030 will be updated with these features. I think, it was already in the pipeline but negotiations weren’t finished or something when they released the 1030. On the Fenix lineup, there have been a few features brought back down.
But you are right: If they did a 1040, nobody would have bought it who owns a 1030 and I think these people would also have left the Garmin system when the next device is due.
DCRain’s proposed ‘handoff’ Edge idea noted above is a brilliant idea.
I’m constantly playing with fire with my Edge battery. There’s no reason to not just charge the darn thing when it reaches 25 or 30% but I can’t help myself.
Not unlike Kramer and Newman pushing ahead despite the empty tank.
Curious if you have a Vivomove/Luxe review or first look in the works?
Specifically looking for insights into the aesthetics, thickness (surprised they don’t offer a model with no HR), and notifications.
I don’t have units at the moment, but it seems like a good October rainy day project.
Any idea when the review for the vivomove 3 will be available?
I don’t see how you could failsafe LiveTrack operations without the phone taking over GPS duties whenever a pairing issue occurs, or if GPS device runs out of juice.
Perhaps LiveTrack could sample GPS location while operating in failsafe mode — say every 30 seconds. That’s enough to maintain the online map for your LiveTrack contacts.
If the GPS device is operational it could also warn when LiveTrack has switched into failsafe mode (phone GPS tracking).
In my mind it’s fairly simple: When the phone loses contact with the Garmin device (since that’s how the connection goes to the internet anyway), it simply takes over the location bits. The GPS lat/long is currently sent from Garmin device to Garmin Connect Mobile app on your phone, and then from GCM on your phone to Garmin’s servers.
So, if GCM detects the Edge has dropped out (like you noted, for some reasonable period of time, such as 15 or 30 seconds), then it simply takes over transmitting lat/long and a note that the Edge device is gone.In fact, the Edge could even display a message to the end user that battery is dire, and would it like to hand that off to the phone.
The phone then can display a message to the user on the phone that it’s taken over responsibilities, just like today how it displays a message when a Garmin Edge device is shut-off/out of reach mid-activity (Edge 530/830). And using the exact same functionality that the phone already uses to track the last known location of the Garmin Edge from the phone’s GPS.
In other words, I’m just using existing puzzle blocks Garmin already has on the table. Or, I’m asking them to think more like a tech company.
I had to follow your great advice (in italics) to make the Bike activity available. In my case – iPhone – there was no need to delete the listing in the Bluetooth control panel. It was sufficient just to “simply reset it back to factory defaults, then delete the Vivosmart 4 out of my Garmin Connect Mobile app. Then I re-paired it like a new watch.”
Incidentally, the latest manual download (Revision C Aug 2019) lists the Bike activity.
But it appears the new firmware (4.0) broke the ability to accurately record non-connected walks. My stride length is set to 0.621 meters. I did a walk tonight of 3365 steps. It only recorded 0.85 miles. The correct answer is 3365 x 0.621 / 1609 = 1.3 miles.
C’mon David, you didn’t think there wasn’t a ‘cost’ for the new features? Win some, lose some. 😉
link to dcrainmaker.com
Full disclosure, I contacted Garmin tech support via chat. They wanted me to do a full device reset (did you know they have a generic application for that, like WebUpdater) and return to a track and try and calibrate. Well I did the reset. But I didn’t have time to go to the track. So I calibrated it using the first half of my dog walk, using my fenix 3 as the distance “truth”. It was actually already “fixed”. I adjusted the calibration slightly (0.62->0.66 m/step). And the second half of my dog walk exactly matched the fenix. So problem solved. And thank you Garmin support.
Thanks for the heads up on this feature! I was on the fence between Vivosmart 4 and the older Vivosport, because I want a small tracking band, not a big watch, but the lack of GPS was a concern.
Can you comment on the battery life of using the phone as GPS source? Such as, does this strain the phone more or less than recording with Strava, and how long would the Vivosmart last in activity recording? As a comparison, my old Vivosmart HR+ with its built in GPS dies in about 6 hours when activity tracking, GPS on.
Seconding a question here.
Any ideas if this is going to turn up for the vivomove hr?
Is there any chance that connected GPS will be available to other devices that do have internal GPS?
I own a VA3 and the battery life with GPS is around 6-7 hours, so connected GPS would be a very nice feature for my long rides.
Withings has a similar Connected GPS feature for their devices as well. I have been using both a Steel HR and a Pulse HR for the last couple of weeks and found the feature to have some pros and cons.
On the pro side, I like that the battery life of the Withings devices are insanely long in comparison to other brands. 20-25 days? That is a huge plus for me. The designs are also very casual looking, so that blends into the daily wardrobe pretty well. Software interface is very nice too…
On the cons side, the Connected GPS is a little wonky. Sometimes it’s very accurate, while others, it will sometimes just stop recording and then pick up again (if it picks back up) minutes later. I hope that they address this in future app updates (as it’s on the phone app side, not the hardware side). I also didn’t see a Withings specific way to export to Strava/GPX, so that was a minus until I found a third-party that created an app to export from your Withings account. Not automated, but at least you can do it.
All in all, it’s an interesting concept, but really relies heavily on the phone app software and signal to give you good data.
Cool to see others taking a similar approach as I think competition will help provide better products for the end users.
I tried a Withings Steel HR sport for a few days before sending it back as the connected GPS was poorly executed. The main problem was it did not confirm you had a GPS lock before starting a run/cycle so often missed the first few minutes or was very inaccurate, also there was no auto pause option. Looks like Garmin have got things done a lot better here though.
Would it be useful as a gps tracker for open water swims?
Maybe. It would depend on how the connection handled drops between phone and watch, if it properly resumes or not. I haven’t tried it with a swim.
How about a review of the Mi Band 4. It’s super cheap ($40), decent heart rate sensor (according to reviews), great battery life (2 weeks), connected GPS (ignored by reviewers) and the ability to upload to Strava (ignored by reviewers).
Could be a great way to track runs for newbies/parkrunners on a budget.
+1 for Mi Band 4 review although I suspect that it’s a bit too cheap for an in depth review?
I hope I didn’t miss it if it’s been discussed: but now that Strava is dropping bluetooth connected devices, I think my vivosmart 4 is my best bet for run tracking. However, one glaring feature that seems to be missing is auto-pause. I used my vivosmart with gps from the phone and needed to make a pit-stop. It doesn’t auto-pause and I find no way to enable that feature. Do you know if it’s there and perhaps I’m just missing it?
Thanks for the updated review.
What is your view on the HR accuracy?
Is there an option to view HR% instead of BPM?
I mostly do indoor cycling only. Does the new bike mode caters for this?
This is good but it doesn’t send the GPS track to Strava. All my activities from my Edge appear with tracks in Strava so I was expecting this to be transferred as well.
Weird. Mine did. See attached from the same session as the one in the post.
Seems by adding connected GPS this is making the Vivosmart 4 a bit of a bargain as you get the latest Garmin tech like Pulse Ox and Body Battery for ~£90 whereas the next model to get this is the Vivoactive 4 which is over three times the price at ~£280? I know you get a bunch of other features on the Vivoactive like music and animated workouts for many these are nice to have’s and not core.
I’m quite tempted to get a Vivosmart 4 now, just worried how it will look on my giant wrists.
I wish they would add the “connected GPS” feature to their other watches that already have an internal GPS like the Vivoactive 3.
I recently purchased a VA3 after many years of being a Fitbit owner and have found the drain on the battery when using the GPS to be a real problem and am only getting 2 days of battery life with a 1 to 2 hour walk each day.
An option to connect to a paired phone if it is in range would be fantastic.
Quick question – if you had a choice between the Vivosport and the Vivosmart 4, on the same budget, which would you choose?
As I’m waiting for a new Fenix 6, I used my Vivosmart 4 with the phone connectivity today. And the result is so so…
The distance recorded seems good, but the GPS trace is not good at all. I don’t know what happened. I will give another try.
Mine did the same thing recently (twice) after working perfectly for about a month. I’ve tried restoring my phone so will see if that makes a difference.
Did yours do this again or was it a one off?
Does anyone know how to read HRV data from Vivosmart 4?
Thanks for your in depth review. I was wondering can I connect the Garmin vivosport to my phone GPS to save on the battery of the watch? I want an accurate record of all my steps in a day, not just exercise.
Does anyone know if the total distance reported by a “connected GPS enabled” watch is coming from the GPS track or from the accelerometer?
I did few runs with my Vivomove Style lately (after 4.70 firmware update) and I have noticed that summary distance shown in Garmin Connect seems to be overstated despite a very smooth GPS track.
After extracting all GPS datapoints from the track file and calculating distance manually it does look like the watch calculation algorithm has errors.
This seems to be consistent across multiple activities:
Activity 1: GC reported distance 5.01 km, distance calculated from GPX 4.75 km (-6%)
Activity 2: GC reported distance 5.01 km, distance calculated from GPX 4.80 km (-4%)
Activity 3: GC reported distance 9.01 km, distance calculated from GPX 8.71 km (-3%)
It does appear that the total distance might be taken from the accelerometer and only the GPS track itself comes from Connected GPS.