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Quick Hands-On: Wahoo Adds Music Controls to Rival Watch, Plans for TrainingPeaks Workout Support


Over the last week Wahoo has quietly rolled out a firmware update that adds music controls to their Wahoo Rival multisport GPS watch, enabling it to changes songs on your iOS device. For those on Android, Wahoo says music control there “will be part of a future firmware update”. So for this post I’ll quickly cover how it works. It’s not too complex, so this won’t take too long.

However, Wahoo also announced that its “next planned firmware update will incorporate planned workouts from TrainingPeaks” – marking the first time the RIVAL has structured workout support of any type. This functionality will largely mirror that found on their ELEMNT series cycling units (ELEMNT/BOLT/ROAM), but of course now supporting more than just cycling workouts. While there’s no specific date for that yet, I don’t expect it to be too far off. Wahoo has noted recently they wanted to get into a higher cadence of smaller updates for RIVAL, and you’ll remember just a few weeks ago we got the running track mode update.

Music Controls Overview:

As far as the music controls go, it’s actually a slightly unique take on things. First of course you’ll update your watch, if you haven’t already. Simply crack open the Wahoo ELEMNT app so it’ll tell the watch to get the latest version. You’ll need firmware version 1.39.72 (or later) on the watch – and you’ll need the Wahoo ELEMNT app updated and in the background somewhere.

Next, open any iOS supported music app. In other words, any app that also shows music controls from the lock screen. My guess is that’s every app you’d probably ever use. In my case, that’s Spotify. When you open Spotify and start playing, it’ll automatically add (and open) a new controls page on the RIVAL:


You’ll see the app name up top, followed by the artist name, track title, and then the time remaining + time progress bar.

You can use the top right button to skip tracks, and the middle right button to pause music. Meanwhile, if you press the bottom two buttons together, it’ll open up the volume controls to increase/decrease volume:


This page is then accessible like any other data page, so it’s accessible from within a workout by just tapping the bottom buttons to iterate forward/backward through the data pages, including getting back to the watch page.

And…that’s it. Simple and straightforward.

With that, looking forward to digging into the TrainingPeaks structured (and scheduled) workout implementation once it’s ready. Thanks for reading!

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  1. kaz

    Even the fonts on that watch look like Garmin Fenix….

    • Eric Mills

      Yes… they took a page from Coros playbook. Shameless copying. Although I remember when the Fenix line starting taking shape that it seemed very similar in overall appearance to Some of Suunto’s watches.

  2. Marc

    Yesss the rival sons !!!!
    Thanks for all

  3. Pavel Vishniakov

    Considering the overall push of the watch as a fitness equipment rather than everyday watch, I’d expect to see structured training rolled out BEFORE music control.

  4. Kris

    The real usefulness of music on sports watches is when music can be stored on the watch, so that you don’t need to carry a smartphone around to listen to music while running… Do you know of any plans to implement that? (If there is enough storage space for that to be possible?)

  5. David E.

    Just noticed that your original RIVAL review was November 17. Once they roll out structured workouts, this would seem to be a good candidate for a “six months later” review. Doesn’t seem like the firmware updates have been addressing the HR and GPS issues that were disappointing at release. But six months later—with track workouts, music, and structured workouts—is this a watch that you could now recommend? I know you said something about how people seem to like that kind of YouTube video…

    • tfk, the5krunner

      a very recent rival firmware did claim GPS improvements. wahoo can do more I’m sure.

      I tested it a bit and it seemed ‘alright’. that said it still fell behind what a garmin will do and that’s not exactly earth-shattering either.
      I can’t remember what @dcr thinks about the hr sensor but I can’t see that being improved too much.

      as always tho, if you just want a pretty picture of your route in strava…the wahoo is perfectly fine. if you care about accuracy you will ALWAYS use a chest strap for hr and footpod for pace/distance accuracy.

    • Yeah, I might touch base again in early summer perhaps, once they get through the structured workouts bit and outline a bit more beyond that.

      I think to me the big ticket items are:

      A) Structured workouts
      B) Course following (breadcrumb style)
      C) A least a half-hearted attempt at 24×7 metrics (right now it’s pretty bad)

      Still, it’s getting there – and I think if they can maintain a monthly release cycle, that’ll keep it top of mind (plus, it gives me an easy thing to post about.)

      Ultimately, as I said before – I suspect it’ll take 12-18 months for Wahoo to have a viable competitor at this price point. Like with the bike computers, they simply don’t have the resources to have a Edge 1030 Plus competitor (or, a Fenix 6 Pro competitor here). But I think they can develop a very strong $399-$499 watch, that will compete with Garmin’s offerings at this price points over time with future hardware iterations, especially though at the $399 level which Garmin has basically ignored for triathletes.

    • David E.

      Yeah, I’ve sort of given up on wrist-based HR altogether, so that one doesn’t matter so much to me. (My 935 is unreliable. My Whoop on the wrist is awful. Maybe it just doesn’t work.) For me, what makes the RIVAL attractive is the basics of what I need (including structured workouts direct from TP and reliable GPS) with some unique tri features (the touchless transition thing) and without the fifty-two features on my Garmin that I’ve paid for but never use. Even maps don’t matter that much to me, but that’s just this trainer-riding, street-running triathlete. And the RIVAL proposition only holds up if the basics work reliably.

  6. Zach

    Do you think Wahoo will be able to firmware update their way into something more competitive with the Forerunner 745/945? Considering a forerunner but I have a Roam for my bike and curious about the rival. Is it just completely outclassed on the hardware side?

    • Just answered most of this above. But I don’t think Wahoo will be able to make an all around FR945 competitor, mainly cause they’ll never get Spotify and other major music platforms. And contactless payments would be exceptionally difficult too.

      However, I think they can pull off perhaps a FR745 feature-wise competitor (minus music/payments), but substitute that with more a Fenix 6 look to it (so premium materials). To me, that’s their way forward.

  7. Jacob

    Do You think there is route guidance(uploaded gpx breadcrumb) coming to rival at some point?

  8. Stephan

    I’m pretty glad Wahoo is catching up just the way we had hoped for:

    – recent firmware updates to enable App-Notifications (Signal, WhatsApp etc.) are not limited to the Rival. They already made their way to my Bolt bike computer.

    [ I’ve had issues with Android connections being pretty sensitive to network- and bluetooth dropouts on my Bolt since day one: It seems like this has greatly improved now: At least live-tracking with my Android device has been there in a reliable manner for all my test ride since I read my first WhatsApp message on the Bolt. ]

    – Music…okay. Good to know.
    – Scheduled Workouts finally confirmed. Yep! I assume that’s the 1%+ essential feature for this watch’s target group.

    I’m glad Wahoo is taking things seriously. A couple of weeks more and I’ll wholeheartedly recommend the Rival to my friends and colleagues ;-)

  9. jww

    Who is the perfect customer for this watch? Strictly based on the features available today?

    All I can come up with is a hard core triathlete, who only wants to wear a watch during actual training/races (vs. 24×7), doesn’t need structured workouts on device, and already has a Wahoo bike computer?

    • David E.

      Once it has structured workouts it could be me. As I posted above, I don’t need most of the 67 things my Garmin can do. As a reasonably hardcore triathlete, I need:

      -Structured workouts from TP
      -Reliable GPS (for my runs)

      Don’t really need breadcrumbs (I know how to find my trainer in the basement, and I mostly run locally on roads). I’ve come to use a chest strap for HR because I find wrist-based generally unreliable, so wrist-based HR isn’t all that important to me.

      It helps that the RIVAL has things like the Touchless Transitions, which seem like they work and are neat little innovations for triathletes. Not life changing, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve screwed up pushing buttons during transition in a race. . .

  10. Jordan

    I’ve been asking for years for them to make this a page on (even just now playing/play/pause) on the elemnt.

  11. John

    How about adding this to the Bolt, it would be nice to control music on the go. I think i was able to do this on my old RFLKT+ years ago?

  12. Tim Herbig

    Ray, have you heard anything about a kicks/drills mode for lap swimming? It‘s the only thing keeping me from ordering the Rival for my workouts…

  13. Sean K.

    On the subject of future features, hopefully Today’s Plan will follow Wahoo’s support for structured workouts with TrainingPeaks.

  14. Sparts

    Does it matter – has anyone actually bought this watch?