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Suunto Rolls Out Pile of New SuuntoPlus Widgets to Suunto 3/5/9 Watches

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Good things come in threes, and today is the second in a line of updates Suunto is making. You’ll remember back last month they started with the app side of the house, adding in a bunch of popularity routing type features. Whereas today is all about existing devices, or, most of them anyway. The Suunto 3, Suunto 5, and Suunto 9 watches are all getting a firmware update that begins distribution today (and will finish by tomorrow evening). That update brings with it a pile of new watch widgets. These are largely SuuntoPlus features, but there are some non-SuuntoPlus items like new watch faces too.

For those unfamiliar with SuuntoPlus, it’s not like Apple Plus where you have to pay for it. Instead, it’s more akin to a Zwift FutureWorks section on the watch. These features are production-quality though, but not really integrated into the full Suunto ecosystem. Yet, at least. Maybe down the road they’ll find their way to full feature status. Suunto says by doing it this way they can roll these out faster than a feature that lives with the rest of the main Suunto watch firmware.

SuuntoPlus Data Pages:

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First up are a slate of new data pages that you can add to your workout pages. Now, because these are SuuntoPlus data pages that means you can only add one per workout, which you do just prior to the start of the workout. Versus a normal data page/field that you can add multiple fields too. That’s part of the slight quirk with them not being true underlying features of the watch. Still, they are appreciated. Here’s the broad-brush look at all the new SuuntoPlus pages:

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I’ll briefly look at some of them a bit more closely. To access the pages, you’ll crack open a sport mode just like you normally do (again, all of this is done on the watch – not on the app/site).

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Then, press down to access options:

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Which is where you’ll find SuuntoPlus, it’s here you’ll see everything listed:

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Select which one you want and then hit the start button like normal. Note (as I discovered the hard way this weekend a few kilometers into my run) – these do NOT persist across sessions. So, you have to remember to re-add the SuuntoPlus page/widget you want each time you start a workout. It doesn’t remember the one you used on your last workout.

In any case, start the workout and then swipe or press to iterate through the screens till you find your new screen. The first one I’ll show is the ‘Weather’ screen. This isn’t pulling weather from weather stations, but rather data from your wrist. It’s essentially making some of the baro related info easier to see in one spot, along with the sunset time and time remaining till sunset.

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Next, there’s SAFE – the idea behind this is that if you need help (such as calling rescue or such) you could have this handy screen to give exact GPS coordinates, but also how far you are from your starting point, as well as how high above your starting point you are. And, it also shows your starting point location. Also, since undoubtedly people will look up these GPS coordinates, they’re just in a park – so no, I don’t live attached to the horse stables, as much as my kids would prefer we did.

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This is a super practical screen, but I think the limitation of either always having it enabled or having something else becomes super apparent here. For example, if we look at the next screen – CLIMB, that’s the one I’d most use in the Alps. So now I have to choose between the practical CLIMB screen, or the probably-never-use but handy in case I need it SAFE screen.

Speaking of CLIMB, this shows the current grade, current elevation, climb rate, elevation climbed, and time elapsed. Just be happy that I managed to find a hill with 6% grade at all for this! Interestingly though, the elevation (where the 0 currently shows) did seem surprisingly delayed on this compared to what I see on the Polar & Garmin watches for elevation responsiveness. I had reached the top of the biggest hill I’ve got around here (15m), before it began to change, and as you can see – I certainly wasn’t going that fast.

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Then there’s LOOP, this is essentially auto-lap by position, which lets you create laps each time you pass a given point. So sure, you could use this on a track, but realistically this is far more useful on a short looped course. There’s cases while travelling I’ll create myself an imaginary track on a short trail or whatever circuit of say 800m, this will auto-lap each time, letting me compare intervals. It’s a feature that Garmin disappointingly removed years ago from their wearables, but has stayed on their Edge computers.

The way it works is that it hangs out in the background until you press the lap button, which marks where the loop starts. Once that’s done, anytime you pass that point it’ll trigger. In playing around with it this morning, it did seem to trigger within a couple meters each time. It’ll show you a lap summary upon passing that reference point (and marks it as a lap), as well as current loop status.

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Note that there’s technically three Loop options, one for average pace, one showing average power, and one showing average speed. Use whichever one you prefer.

Similarly there’s the new SPRINT widget, which will automatically track cycling or running sports. This will basically create laps in the same way that the Loop one does, except it automatically triggers the capture of a sprint based on a 25% increase in running pace or cycling power (there’s two widgets, one for each). It actually responded pretty darn quick in my testing, within a couple seconds each time.

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Next, there’s BEARING NAVIGATION. This is only available on the Suunto 9, and lets you specify a target and then get the bearing. Now, technically speaking this isn’t in the SuuntoPlus section, but rather part of the Navigation features section.

Finally, there’s a new ‘Wings for Life World Run’ page that simulates such a race. The way these races work is that you get a head start on a car, and then you see how far you can get before the car catches you – there’s no preset finish line distance. Anyway, this page explains it.

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So the widget can then simulate this whole race concept, including showing you how far you’ll get until the car catches you, as well as how long that’ll take (in other words, how long you’ll have to keep running for), based on your current pace.

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If one was training for this event – it’d probably be the coolest data page of the bunch.

Ok – still with me? Good. Oh, wait, one more thing – all of the following named SuuntoPlus pages also store data that the Suunto app can render/display:

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Like I said – these are all cool and practical items that, while you probably won’t use all of them, regular Suunto users might find one or two that fit the bill for them.

New Watch Faces:

Next, there are two new (and colorful) watch faces. One for the Suunto 9 Baro with pressure data, and one or the Suunto 3/5/9 (non-baro) with step data.

You can tap the center of the screen, and it’ll change between a few variants, including ditching the sunset/sunrise portion, as well as showing two metrics in the middle there (battery life and time until sunset). It’s a nice watch face. I think in general we’re seeing watch companies find ways to put actionably useful data on watch faces, versus just putting ‘all the things’, and this is a good example of one that would work well if you were out hiking.

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Both of which are pretty self-explanatory in showing those metrics as gauges. Of course, that’s virtually impossible to see given I live in Amsterdam and have zero elevation here (actually, slightly below sea level a couple meters). But it apparently looks cooler when you’re not on an underwater pancake. And at right, the steps variant, which isn’t available on the Suunto 9 Baro, just the Suunto 3/5/9 (non-baro).

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Like with any past watch faces, you can go ahead and change these by scrolling up to Settings > Watch Face, and then selecting the watch face you want.

Wrap-Up:

These are nice touch firmware updates from Suunto, who has otherwise been pretty quiet since the Suunto 7 released back in January. The features are handy if you’ve got a Suunto 3/5/9 watch. As for Suunto 7 owners…well…this post just covers Suunto 3/5/9 items, but like I said – good things come in three’s. So hang tight!

Looking at the list in whole, some of these things are legit new features not seen on any other endurance sports watch. For example – the SAFE concept makes a ton of sense. Sure, Garmin has emergency contact type stuff, but that’s very different than this scenario which is when you might be calling/radioing someone else with your position for assistance. This makes it silly simple to use. Love it.

And the sprint auto-tracking is kinda neat too. I haven’t put enough time into that widget to see how well it handles a longer workout, but on the surface I think it’s a cool concept, especially since it then uses that data via the app for automatic laps (rest/recovery effectively). Others like the Loop (autolap by position effectively) – are handy, even if others have had (and then taken away), those in the past.

Now the challenge Suunto has here is that almost none of these features would by themselves (or even en mass) cause someone to go out and buy a Suunto 9 or 3 or 5. And in the case of the Suunto 9, it’s already more than two years old, which in terms of buying into a new device that’s been out for two years…it’s a tough pitch. Still, given all the other turbulence around the Suunto platform the last year or two, giving features to existing owners (versus taking them away) is undoubtedly welcome.

I’d really love to see though the ability to toggle these from the app as part of a sport profile, and include more than one of them together. For example, ideally the SAFE feature would just always be there by accessing it from the mid-activity settings menu. And then allowing me to just have CLIMB always be there for any hike I start.

But that gives them something to work on going forward.

With that – thanks for reading!

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33 Comments

  1. Regarding the watch face, the steps one is for the Suunto 3/5/9 since those doesn’t have the barometer. S9 Baro have the one with outdoor info instead.

    And the color for the sunset/sunrise, that can be changed when you choose the watch face.

    • Ahh…that makes sense as to why on my Baro I wasn’t seeing it. Though, I’d argue it doesn’t make sense as to why the Baro edition simply couldn’t get steps on there as well.

      Good call on the color. I had included photos of the coloring, but it didn’t click since the color selection actually shows coloring all the way around, so I was like ‘Hmm, shrug, that didn’t happen’.

  2. Joe P

    Suunto already forgot about the 7 eh?

  3. Stephen

    Ironically, after seeing this and having been debating something to replace my aging Trainer Wrist HR., I went to the REI website and they have taken the Suunto 9 down.

  4. Aigars

    Looks good, but I am waiting of improvements in sports modes and App. Like swolf, stroke rate, race prediction or ghost runner, allow edit triathlon mode something like that.

  5. Theo

    Good things come in three’s?
    1: fw release for S3/5/9.
    2: fw release for S5.
    3: ?

    • Jeremy

      fw for 7 with route navigation, always on display in WO, as Eduardo stated earlier, I guess.

      Is it still impossible to connect to external devices on the Suunto 7? I mean…just an HR belt…

  6. GLT

    Not much of a runner, and in a different ecosystem, but think the “Wings for Life World Run” support is great. Slightly different take on the virtual partner/racer idea and it supports charity.

  7. Noel

    I wish they already updated the 5 and 9. It’s ridiculous that 5 misses barometer. Even if 5 was cheaper, I wouldn’t buy it for the lack of baro and compass. I prefer a smaller watch but with a barometer. Also will we ever see solar on second generations of 5/9?

  8. Do these updates allow you to program your own distance it time based intervals? After I lost my Ambit, I went back to Garmin because the feature was not available. I think the best it would do was to subscribe/buy interval programs that other people had planned.

    • Jeremy

      As far as I can remember, you can program simple intervals based on time or distance on the S9.
      And you can do it anytime you want during a session, modify them…etc.

      I find this so much more flexible than the Forerunner/.Fenix approach where you need to define everything before starting an activity, and not forget to start the training/interval before starting the session…
      Bu on the other hand, you’re tied to simple intervals (covers 85% of the cases..)

    • Zach Rumlow

      You can create simple intervals (single sprint and recovery distances/times). Still cannot create complex workouts like you can with Garmin.

  9. JJS

    The SAFE feature is something I really will use very often. But what if I (auto-)pause the workout: I can’t see the Plus-Page anymore?! That doesn’t make sense! Same with the new 9Baro watchface: Can’t see this when started a workout. I think switching to the watch while the workout is running in background would be fine. Also scrolling through the workout-pages while a recording is stopped.

  10. Andrew

    Polar M400/430 can display the GPS coordinates called “current location info” during an activity.
    Has this been removed from the newer Polar watches?

    • flokon

      Yup, like pretty much any useful feature or accuracy Polar watches had before the Vantage line. Don’t expect Polar to change that anytime soon. They cater to the instagraming cross-fitters now who care about lifestyle gimmicks more than anything.

    • Andrew

      How bizarre that current GPS watches can’t display GPS coordinates. After seeing Ray’s Coros Pace 2 post I decided to do 8 laps with my M400 to see how accurate the GPS track is? Not bad for a watch released in 2014? Even the distance measured 3.4km was accurate given I did 8 laps in lane 4 at 422m per lap.

  11. Pavel Vishnyakov

    I really like the idea of getting some weather data (not just barometer readings) on the wrist without any external service and I really wish Garmin would add it to Fenix lineup.

  12. inSyt

    Hopefully Garmin loops back the autolap feature.

  13. Mark

    Are Any of theses new features coming to the Suunto spartan Baro Stealth model they seen to have forgotten there other watches?

  14. Zach Rumlow

    It would just be nice if they added these features outside of Suunto Plus so that more than one of these features could be used at a time and so that they don’t need to be toggled outside of Suunto Plus.

  15. Barrie Gibson

    I had no idea that Garmin had taken away the ‘autolap by position’ functionality from their watches until I read your comment above. In fact I looked at the 945 user manual because I could barely believe it. But yes, you are right. The top of the range Garmin sports watch does not have the functionality of my 7 year old 910. And do I use it ? All the time when I am at the track, doing laps or doing a street run with multiple laps – pressing the lap button is one less thing that my old brain does not have to worry about. Progress eh !

  16. Steve w

    Hi.do you know if the (3year old) older Spartan Sport range will get any signifcant updates now these are rolled out?

  17. JDB

    So the Bearing Navigation is just a minor addition to the otherwise quite middling navigation function. I’ve spent the last few outings (hikes, bike rides) trying to do on my Suunto 9 Baro what a handheld Garmin eTrex had figured out over 20 years ago – how to make breadcrumb tracks and simply, intelligently navigate back over them to the starting point. Oddly, Suunto treats ‘routes’ separately from breadcrumb tracks. And while the track back function exists, the graphical arrow/pointer seems to point straight at the origin instead of along the breadcrumb track (which you’d actually be walking, and trails are rarely in a straight line). I’m also concerned that a live breadcrumb track could be lost, since the finish/save option suggests that until saved, a track is in volatile memory and could be lost due to a watch/firmware hiccup – and once saved, a breadcrumb track seems to disappear from being user accessible (without a companion cell/table app, which I loath to carry on the trail). All my comments might be in ignorance of the nuances of device usage – but I’ve been paging the manual, reading blogs like this, and experimenting, and it’s just not obvious how the Suunto 9 Baro could be used equivalently to a traditional GPS for wilderness navigation. These seem to be arguably just millennial-oriented apps for gamifying activities and supporting a data driven lifestyle. No offense, but before buying this product it didn’t occur to me that a GPS device by a company long well regarded in the outdoor community wouldn’t really offer core GPS navigation functionality like had previously been established in the market.

  18. Dave Lusty

    Wow 26 comments. Suunto should write a book on how to kill off a division of your business. It’s weird because if they’d done nothing they would probably be more popular at this point. The devices are good, the code is good, yet somehow they managed to pull the rug out from under customers. I still have a 9 Baro and a Spartan something sitting in a drawer – I take them out every 6 months or so to see whether there’s a viable app/platform and then put them away again, disapointed. On the other hand every time I take out the Vantage V I remember how much better Polar is than Garmin, then put it away because I miss music and maps too much. At least when Polar promised to finish their device they actually did it! I’d love to see the page hits between the various brands on your site over time, I’d imagine it’s a good representation of market sentiment 🙂

    • Big A

      @Dave Lusty I was thinking the same thing based on the lack of posts related to the Suunto App updates.

      I’ve thought that the number of posts on Suunto related topics has gone off a cliff in the last 12months, I hate to think what this translates to in sales.

  19. Nate

    Can you comment on the OS upgrade from Google yesterday? Do you notice any improvements, particularly for battery life?

  20. E

    Do you know what the colors for the pressure mean on the barro watchface?
    the range of each color is not constant.

    • JK

      The lighter green colour stands for the pressure development during the last three hours. Watch the webside of Gerald Zang-Schmidt. He has a good description.
      Have fun outside 🙂