COROS has launched yet another firmware update today, and as usual, adding a slate of features. Most of these features aren’t new to the landscape of sports watches, but some of them are new to how they’re implemented in the industry. Either way, they’re all nice additions and continue the roughly once a month cadence of new firmware updates from the company. And virtually all of these go to all units.
As a quick recap, here’s what’s being added:
1) Virtual Run Profile: This transmits pace/cadence/HR to apps like Zwift, when on a treadmill (Vertix 2/Vertix 1/Apex Pro/Pace 2)
2) CORE Body Temperature Support: This adds native integration with the CORE body temp sensor
3) Adjusted Pace Data Field: This also supports EvoLab for calculation on uphill/downhills (Vertix 2/Vertix 1/Apex Pro/APEX/Pace 2)
4) Openwater and Pool Swim Temperature: Records the water temp (Vertix 2/Vertix 1/APEX Pro/Pace 2/Pace)
5) Tweaks to the structured workout creation (app-based)
6) Improved GoPro connectivity (Vertix 2/Vertix 1/APEX Pro/Pace 2)
7) New Mapbox 3D Map in activity Summary
8) New Korean and Russian language support
Now, at a high level, nothing here is massive. Other companies have had Virtual Run support for quite a while, Garmin introduced it two years ago this week actually, and CORE Body Temp support has been available on Wahoo and Garmin units for a year and a half. However, what COROS did here is make the support ‘native’, which means that you can natively pair it within the watch as opposed to using a Connect IQ data field. We’ll dive into that in a second.
(Note: CORE and COROS are not the same company. CORE is a Switzerland-based company full of geeky science peeps that didn’t want to use rectal thermometers anymore, thus developing the little pod. While COROS is a smart helmet-gone-watch company based out of a mix of California and China. If you were to blend them, you’d get COREOS, which sounds kinda like Oreos. Mmm…)
For the GoPro one, COROS made this feature usable now. Previously, you had to re-pair the watch to the camera every single time you powered on the camera. Which, was a PITA and a non-starter beyond a booth demo. Now though, it saves that connection. So that’s great to hear!
The new Mapbox 3D view is cool. I do wish there was the ability to control the angle/elevation like some 3D views, as I can basically only control it by zooming in and out. But still, pretty cool stuff. Here’s a hike of mine from last week:
Finally, for workout creation, they’ve tweaked it such that when you create a workout it doesn’t reset to the beginning after each step. It’s a minor thing and probably should be classified more as a bug-fix than a new feature, but if you’re creating workouts in the COROS app it makes your life better.
With that, let’s talk about the two main features.
CORE Body Temp:
With the supported COROS watches, you can now pair the CORE sensor directly. To do so, you’ll go into the same accessories menu that you’d use to pair any other sensor. Since this pairs over Bluetooth Smart as opposed to ANT+, keep in mind that the CORE pod only supports a single concurrent Bluetooth connection. So if you have your smartphone around with the CORE app connected, it’ll block it till you close the app.
Either before or after pairing, you can go into any sport profile and add the body temperature fields. There are four fields you can add:
– Core Temperature (real-time)
– Max Core Temperature
– Min Core Temperature
– Avg Core Temperature
And you can see them here, where I’ve added them to a data field:
Then, I put on the CORE body temperature sensor. It’s a small little pod that attaches to your heart rate strap.
After that, I did a workout. You can see these data fields shown there on my watch at the end of the workout (you can see them the entire time, the photo was just taken at the end – ain’t got no time to pull out a DSLR camera on the treadmill – the last time I did that resulted in the camera going flying).
Then post-workout, the data shows up in the COROS app automatically. In this case, the treadmill is in the basement of sorts, which isn’t heated much, hence the slight decline in body temperature actually.
Now, COROS and various other entities have made a big deal about being the “World’s First” native integration in a watch. And while that’s true, this is a good example of being slightly misleading. Yes, you can natively pair it. And that’s great – and the data field assignment is great too.
But the data isn’t properly written to the files. And the reason that matters is that the bulk of entities/persons using the CORE body temp sensor these days are professional athletes and pro teams. And none of them are going to be using the COROS app to analyze that data. They’re going to be using higher-end 3rd party platforms, including custom team platforms to consolidate that data, that expect the CORE data written within the .FIT files.
And unfortunately, unlike Garmin & Wahoo, COROS doesn’t write that data to the .FIT file – so you can’t practically get it afterwards for most use cases. Here’s that from my workout tonight, showing it lacking in the exported .FIT files:
Now don’t get me wrong – it’s relatively trivial for COROS to add it. And I also get this was new and last minute – but still – thinking through this stuff before release is what gets the people that care about this sensor, onboard with a COROS watch.
I only note this as a word of caution that we’ve seen a lot of updates over the last 12-18 months with COROS, however, there were many times where we don’t quite see the polish we’d expect. Either visual polish or technical polish. They’re often 85% of the way there. For example, you’ll notice that two of the eight items listed in today’s new features update, are basically bug fixes to make those features polished/functional.
[Update 3 days Later: COROS has now added writing the data to the .FIT file.]
Of course, at the other end of the spectrum you have Wahoo, who releases incredibly polished features that are so brilliantly thought through – but sometimes (often?) does so far too late to the game to matter in discussions. I’m not sure where exactly the right spot is, I think it’s probably closer to what COROS is doing, but with COROS spending just a few extra weeks to develop those features rather than going for broke on a big release.
Next up there’s virtual run support. This is primarily useful for running with apps on a treadmill, and mainly Zwift running. Like with other watches, it’ll broadcast your pace, heart rate, and cadence over Bluetooth Smart so that it pulls it from the wrist and lets Zwift use it for controlling the app.
To access it, you’ll go to do an indoor run like normal, except there’s a new option in the menu if you scroll down that says Virtual Run:
At that point, go ahead and select it, and then over on your Zwift app you’ll see the COROS watch enumerated for each of the sensor sections.
Back on the watch, it’ll offer to start the run, and it’s as simple as that.
You’ll now see you’re stats on Zwift as expected, matching the watch:
In my case, my Vertix 2 had been reset last week, so the calibration of the pace was substantially off/low. But you can fix that both after the treadmill workout, or just by running outdoors at those same paces to automatically calibrate. But still, this worked without issue – so nice and easy.
As always, wrist-based pace can be a bit tricky sometimes, but I find most companies are pretty good here – especially if the watch is calibrated to those pace zones outside at some point.
There’s your quick look at how this stuff actually works in real life. As usual, it’s nice to see the constant updates from COROS for watches. This is far surpassing what many of their competitors are doing with respect to updates, especially those competitors that aren’t in a leading position. Just like any business, if you don’t keep updating and providing value, people are going to find alternatives. COROS isn’t giving any reason for their users to look at alternatives. It’s as simple as that.
With that – thanks for reading!
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