Heads up! Big sports tech sales this week! Just a quick heads up that there are some substantial sports tech deals right now, namely in the Garmin camp, with the Fenix 6 Series at $100 off, the Tacx NEO 2T smart trainer at $100 off (rarely on sale), plus the Garmin Forerunner 745 at 25% off. As well as other watches and bike computers. The full listing is here.
It’s been a couple of months since the last Wahoo RIVAL GPS watch feature update, but true to their word, Wahoo has continued to add new features to the RIVAL GPS watch. Some of these race/athletic focused, and some of them more general focused. These add to the existing features Wahoo has added post-launch including track running mode, structured workouts, alarms, and music control.
Wahoo RIVAL users should start to see these features hit their devices over the course of the day (rather, be offered to update over the course of the day). As always with device updates, it may take a few days for everyone to see the new features. Firmware version number 1.44.11 or higher is what you’re looking for (along with the latest Wahoo ELEMNT companion app on iOS or Android).
There’s three core new features being rolled out today, and here’s the quick and dirty overview of each:
Race Running: This feature basically ‘snaps’ your race distance to known markers on a course. For example, let’s say you’re running the NYC Marathon, and notice that your GPS is doing craptastically bad (normal, for that course). This allows you to force the distance back to ‘known good’ markers by simply pressing the lap button when you come near a Mile or Kilometer marker. Some of you may remember the Garmin Connect IQ app that I showed years ago that does roughly this same thing.
Pin Page: This lets you set what is basically a ‘favorite’ data page on your watch during a workout, that will automatically switch back to that favorite page after 10 seconds (if you’ve changed to a different page).
Find my Phone/Device: This allows you to find your phone from your watch, when your toddler/cat/bird/SO steals it to browse Instagram. But inversely, it’ll allow the phone to find the watch. So that when you take off the 24×7 watch you’re supposed to be wearing, you can find it again.
So, with that quick overview, let’s dive slightly more deep on each one.
First up is the Race Running feature. As noted up above, this lets you snap your race distance to the nearest mile or kilometer marker. The main reason to use this is during races, but some people may have well-marked trails/paths (and they might even be accurate too). What’s interesting here is that I suspect Wahoo is actually leveraging their existing snap-distance feature that they have in the Track Mode, which snaps to the nearest 100m chunk when the lap button is pressed within 25m of the turn.
Beyond the distance though, Wahoo will recalculate your pacing-related data fields too – so those also match correctly.
Ok, to get started it’s got a new workout profile (aka sport profile), which you’ll see in the sport list. By default it should show up automatically, tapping it opens up the details:
You’ll be able to change all the usual data fields/settings for it. But when you scroll down on the Race Running field, you’ll see the new options shown above.
There are three options within it:
Course Markers: This lets you toggle whether you’ll be tapping using the mile or kilometer markers. So for example, if I’m running a race in the Netherlands, I’ll want to use the ‘Kilometers’ setting, since it’s 99% likely the markers are in Kilometers (some big European marathons will actually put out mile markers for major mile distance). Inversely, if I’m running a race in Washington State, I’m gonna use the ‘Miles’ setting, since it’s most likely I’m going to see mile-markers instead.
Pace Units: This allows you to differentiate between pacing and distance. This is handy for people like me who may be using distance in kilometers on a race, so I can match-up to the course markers, but might actually prefer pacing in mins/mi (or vice versa).
Auto Lap Pop-Ups: This lets you disable auto-lap notifications for distance. The laps still happen, but the notifications don’t. The main use case here is again the NYC Marathon (or similar tough inner city courses) where you know the GPS-based distance is gonna be crap. So this allows you to use just the manual Course-Marker laps for notifications, rather than the automatic ones.
Now, as always, you’ll need to apply a bit of common sense here. Which, I fully recognize that at mile 21 of a marathon, may not be fully present. But having done more than my share of running races over the years, there’s plenty of scenarios where race organizers simply misplace mile/kilometer markers. Or, they get moved post-placement by volunteers/officials/police for any number of valid or invalid reasons.
Typically speaking, races will spray-paint markers on the ground in the days/weeks leading up to the race, for placement of signs. Then, at 5AM in the dark a truck will come along and volunteers will plop the kilometer/mile-marker sign on the spot. Hopefully fueled first with coffee. And hopefully on the correct spray-painted marking (as opposed to the pipe/cabling markings the utility crew just did the afternoon prior). The good news is that if things are incorrect, you can re-correct at the next one if you need to.
Pinned Workout Pages:
The idea behind this feature is you can pin a preferred workout data page, and have it automatically revert back to that page after 10 seconds. For example, in most cases my preferred running data page is a foursome of: Lap Distance, Lap Time, Lap Pace, Current Heart Rate. But perhaps I want to see the total distance or time on a different data page. I manually tap to change data pages to find that on some other page. The Pinned Workout feature will then automatically revert back to my favorite page after 10 seconds (without touching it).
To enable this, during a workout, simply hold the two zoom buttons together. By default, these are the bottom two buttons. You’ll see a confirmation on the screen as this happens:
And that’s it! This will persist across workouts as well (within the same sport profile), meaning, the next time you do a run it’ll be the same. Also, you can undo this by simply holding the bottom two buttons again (either to change it to a new page, or get rid of it).
Find my Phone/Device:
Frequent loser? I mean, loser of stuff – not a loser in life or anything. Then these two features should help you out. First up is the ability to find your watch. Within the Wahoo ELEMNT app, if you scroll to the bottom on the settings page, you’ll see a ‘Find ELEMNT RIVAL’ option:
Tap that, and then the watch will do something exciting, chirping and vibrating (if it’s on a hard surface, the vibrations will probably be louder than the chirping):
The only thing I’d say is kinda silly here is that it just plays its tune once, lasting 5 seconds. Whereas most other ‘Find my junk’ things out there will continue to play for extended periods of time, and/or until you tap the unit. And given the ‘You Found Me’ page stays on the watch until manually dismissed, it might as well chirp for at least 30-45 seconds, if not longer.
Note that this feature will ignore any do-not-disturb or silence settings you have on your watch. Inversely, both features in this section require that your phone be within range of your watch. In most cases, that should be within a few rooms of your phone/watch.
Next, is the ability to ‘Find my Phone’ from the watch. Simply hold the bottom left button down to access the menu, and then select ‘Find my Phone’.
Within that, press the ‘Play Sound’ button:
That’ll change your phone’s volume to 100%, and then plays this loud sound that increases in volume. It’s one of the better find my phone type sounds. However again, it only plays it twice lasting about 5 seconds in total, rather than just continuing to play it.
As I’ve noted since the beginning, the RIVAL was always going to be a long-term ‘thing’. Something that was realistically going to take 12-18 months to become competitive. The company stands at the 9-month marker now, and I think they’re on course for that 12-18 month timeframe. Certainly, folks will argue (correctly) that watches like the COROS Pace 2 are far more full-featured at just $199 – albeit, without the looks of the Wahoo RIVAL.
Still, things like the Race Running are cool, and just as useful to certain groups of folks as any other feature. The thing with features and watches is there’s rarely a single killer feature for everyone. Rather, it’s the collection of all these small features that makes or breaks a watch in the market. Everyone has their own ‘1% feature’ – a feature that only 1% of people care about or use, but for that person, it’s their most important thing. Getting a unit to have enough of these features to compete is the tricky part.
And in the case of the Race Running feature on Wahoo, they’ve likely done their homework. If you look at the Race Screen Connect IQ app that I highlighted five years ago, it now has nearly a quarter a million downloads. It’s insane. Thus, there’s clearly demand for this type of feature, and Wahoo must have looked at things like that and said (logically) – why not just build it into the product?
Similarly, for more generic features (like Find my Phone), it’s effectively just a check-box that Wahoo needs to check along the way to competitiveness. Because again, different people value different things.
With that – thanks for reading!
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