Garmin Adds 25+ New Features to Fenix 7/Epix/Instinct 2, Shifts to Quarterly Features Updates

Ok, there’s a lot in this post. So hang on, it’s packed with details. First up, is that Garmin started rolling out this week an update for Fenix 7 & Epix series watches, including some 28-50 different new features (depending on how you want to count them). A smaller chunk of these features are also being rolled out to the Fenix 6, Forerunner 245, 745, 945, and FR945 LTE, plus more to the Venu 2 series and others.

But more notably, this is part of a shift in how Garmin is going to do feature updates going forward. And I think it’s largely a good thing, especially combined with some other changes I’ll be writing about in the coming days that show the company gathering maturity in the software development cycle that it lacked just a few years ago.

With that, let’s just get right into things.

Oh, actually one quick note is that, in theory, all of these updates will be ‘available’ to all users by today. Garmin stages roll out over a few days, and that started on Tuesday, and most of these products show they are at 80-100% rollout availability. In short, if it’s not showing for you, try again tomorrow. You can speed up the update process by directly plugging into a computer with Garmin Express. Else, it’ll download updates behind the scenes quietly.

Quarterly Release Cycle:

In order to understand the shifts, one probably needs to understand how Garmin is organized. Within the company, there are a few core businesses/groups, each covering different product segments. For example – there’s Outdoors, which covers things like the Fenix & Epix watches, but also handhelds and even the Garmin inReach series. Then there’s Fitness, which covers cycling gear and the Forerunner lineup. After that, there’s Wellness, which covers the Venu/Vivo series. There are of course other non-sporty groups, like Marine and Aviation, but we’ll set those aside for now.

Now while all those groups have always talked to each other, and used code across products, they didn’t really coordinate release cycles in any meaningful way with each other. That meant that the Fenix would get a feature in March, and then the Forerunner team might add it in June, and the Venu crew would come along and add some cowbells in August. Or maybe the opposite. Sometimes the Vivo/Venu side would add new features that would take months to show up on other devices.

Each silo basically danced to their own beat. To some degree, that’s been ok from a business standpoint, but it’s been frustrating and confusing for consumers. Especially as companies like Apple, COROS and Wahoo continue to focus on ‘across all devices at once’ updates (to an extent anyways).

So going forward, Garmin is going to be focusing its feature updates into quarterly release cycles. This being the first attempt at that. In a conference call about it, Garmin emphasized this doesn’t mean bug fixes will need to wait a quarter though. Specifically, head of Garmin’s Venu & Vivo lines, Phil McClendon stated that the company will “absolutely break-off and do bug fixes as normal more frequently”, which is what already happens today. Most products see roughly monthly firmware updates with bug fixes.

Obviously, not every product is part of this week’s big update. The ones participating in this quarterly party are:

Garmin Enduro
Garmin Forerunner 245/245 Music
Garmin Forerunner 745
Garmin Forerunner 945
Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE
Garmin Fenix 6 Series
Garmin Fenix 7 Series
Garmin Epix Series
Garmin Instinct 2 Series
Garmin MARQ Series
Garmin Venu 2/2S/2 Plus Series
Garmin Vivomove 3/3S/Style/Luxe series

In the case of the Forerunner 945 LTE, its update is slightly behind schedule a few weeks and slated for June.

And of course, to point out the obvious, not every feature goes to every watch. Garmin continues to assign features to watches (both old and new) based on how much money they think they can extract from you.

While the company has certainly gotten vastly better in the last 2-3 years in terms of giving older devices firmware updates, undoubtedly there will be many Fenix 6 owners who rightly ask why some of these Fenix 7 software features can’t be on their watches too. And certainly, if we look at the Fenix 6 release notes since launch, Garmin has added exponentially more features than any of their competitors ever have to that watch since launch. But it doesn’t change the reality that their competitors still give the appearance of better supporting older hardware than Garmin has.

Sleep Update:

Ok, before we get into this whole thing, a quick note about the sleep changes. You’ll notice many of these updates include new tweaks about sleep changes. This applies to watches with the newer sleep algorithms, basically, any watch you can see the sleep on the watch itself. The tweaks here are related to the sleep score and restlessness. This is both a change in how they display it, and how they calculate it.

In particular, Garmin is changing the weighting of the sub-scores that determine your sleep score. Within that, they’re adding more negative weight if you were restless, which has the effect of increasing positive weight for deep/REM sleep. In other words, previously, you could have a fairly restless night, but still get an overall high score if your other sleep metrics were fine. Now, it more heavily looks at the restlessness elements.

This also impacts the recommendations they might give you, and the wording – going from things that you “need” to do, to things that they “recommend” you do. Meanwhile, on Garmin Connect Mobile, you’ll notice that the ‘Movement’ chart is now replaced with the below ‘Restlessness’ chart, for those with the below noted devices.

 

And again, all of this impacts your sleep scores. Garmin says that if you’re a more restless sleeper, you’ll probably see a slight shift downwards in your sleep scores. They said in particular, this will have a more heavy impact for alcohol consumption on scores, because alcohol consumption tends to impact REM sleep duration.

The company says that ultimately, the changes were made based on having boatloads of data and increased logging/data with newer devices, along with user feedback. In some ways this is similar to the wholesale shifts made in Garmin’s Body Battery algorithms a year or so ago, which made it more difficult to get 100% recovery each night in Body Battery. Which most people, including myself, have found increased the perceived accuracy significantly.

Fenix 7 & Epix Updates:

Here’s the official list, for everything that has the word “Added” in it. Technically speaking, if I wanted to get more detailed, this is really like 45-50 features. For example, some line items have a bunch of different things blended together that are really separate.

– Added palm screen support while in Connect IQ apps.
– Added to and improved ability to modify settings in Garmin Connect mobile app.
– Added Adventure Race start and end time to post activity summary UI.
– Added Acclimation, Pace, Detailed Speed, Bouldering Metrics, Strength Metrics, and Indoor Climbing Metrics to post activity summary UI.
– Added ability to perform Map Manager wifi map downloads when connecting to a computer as well.
– Added download time estimation to map manager.
– Added support for preloaded maps to update via map manager (Golf and Ski maps, etc.)
– Added ability to toggle smart notifications in notifications and alerts menu.
– Added ability to change the record activity setting mid-round for Golf.
– Added new watch face data field types: 1, 2, 3 item raw data fields, sunrise/sunset, calories, alternate time zones, body battery, steps.
– Added ability to go back to a Connect IQ watch face while in an activity.
– Added prompt when user tries to start a Connect IQ app that records an activity when an activity is already being recorded.
– Added option menu to Heart Rate app.
– Added Stamina fields to the Adventure Racing activity.
– Added a message that displays when heart rate dependent features are launched when Heart Rate tracking setting is disabled.
– Added prompt when accessing PulseOx glance when wrist heart rate is turned off.
– Added Fitness Age display to User Profile settings.
– Added Streak display to Steps widget.
– Added Connect IQ System 5 support.
– Added Fish activity.
– Added Green Contours support to golf.
– Added Horseback Riding activity.
– Added support for TM2 position formatting.
– Added a side options menu to the sleep widget.
– Added Compass settings to the Adventure Race options menu.
– Added support for the following Extended Display data fields: Stamina, steps, active calories, and battery hours.
– Added Enhanced Strength functionality, which includes an improved workout preview with a map of muscles that will be used, improved User Interface in free mode and workouts, and improvements to the Rep and Weight editing experience.
– Added ability to access action menus via touchscreen tap.

There are also non-additive changes, some of which might be considered a feature update, others are just changing the way things are done.

– Changed backlight keys setting to Keys and Touch – disabling Backlight response for button presses will now also prevent the backlight from responding to Touchscreen input.
– Changed wording of “Stand” time to “Idle” time.
– Improved initial pairing flow in some cases which would cause the user to be stuck at the Garmin Connect logo.
– Improved map UI when selecting a point while on the map.
– Improved timer alarm design.
– Improved sleep detection.
– Improved User Interface (UI) of InReach app.
– Improved power mode UI.
– Improved touch support in some places.
– Improvements made to map manager map download.
– Improvements and fixes made to Health Snapshot.
– Improved wording of sleep mode touch setting to be “auto” and “off.”
– Removed haptic feedback for watch face data fields that do not launch anything (i.e. “Epix” logo.)
– Updated support for Shimano Di2.
– Updated language translations.

And finally, there’s a far longer list of bug fixes. I won’t include them here, because I’ve got a lot of things to list, and this post is gonna get crazy to read. But you can find the full list here.

Garmin Fenix 6/MARQ/Enduro Series:

Garmin Fenix 6 Series with these updates:

  • Added support for Connect IQ system 5.
  • Added a new tip to inform the user each time a new emergency contact is added from Garmin Connect.
  • Added a new tip that will recommend the user to reboot the device if the GPS is unresponsive while waiting for a fix before an activity.
  • Added a new tip to notify the user that the Wrist Heart Rate Sensor is disabled. This tip will be displayed whenever accessing a heartrate-related glance while the wrist heartrate sensor is turned off on the device.
  • Added the Horseback activity.
  • Added the new Easyhunt feature to the DogTrack app.
  • Added the Resting Heartrate True-Up feature. RHR data now gets trued-up so that all devices tied to the same account will have the same RHR value.
  • Added enhanced strength functionality, which includes an improved workout preview with a map of muscles that will be used, improved UI in free mode and workouts, and improvements to the rep and weight editing experience.
  • Added animation to progress arc when viewing Intensity Minutes widget.
  • Updated incident detection to better distinguish between supported and unsupported activities.
  • Updated inReach messaging to now allow the watch to send messages up to 160 characters in length.
  • Updated support for Shimano Di2.
  • Improvements made to on-device sleep detection and sleep staging.
  • Improvements made to Run/Idle detection algorithm, particularly when detecting when the user has stopped.

Garmin Enduro is getting these updates:

  • Added support for Connect IQ system 5.
  • Added a new tip to inform the user each time a new emergency contact is added from Garmin Connect.
  • Added a new tip that will recommend the user to reboot the device if the GPS is unresponsive while waiting for a fix before an activity.
  • Added a new tip to notify the user that the Wrist Heart Rate Sensor is disabled. This tip will be displayed whenever accessing a heartrate-related glance while the wrist heartrate sensor is turned off on the device.
  • Added the Horseback activity.
  • Added the new Easyhunt feature to the DogTrack app.
  • Added the Resting Heartrate True-Up feature. RHR data now gets trued-up so that all devices tied to the same account will have the same RHR value.
  • Added enhanced strength functionality, which includes an improved workout preview with a map of muscles that will be used, improved UI in free mode and workouts, and improvements to the rep and weight editing experience.
  • Added animation to progress arc when viewing Intensity Minutes widget.
  • Updated incident detection to better distinguish between supported and unsupported activities.
  • Updated inReach messaging to now allow the watch to send messages up to 160 characters in length.
  • Updated support for Shimano Di2.
  • Improvements made to on-device sleep detection and sleep staging.
  • Improvements made to Run/Idle detection algorithm, particularly when detecting when the user has stopped.

Garmin MARQ Series is getting this set:

  • Added support for Connect IQ system 5.
  • Added a new tip to inform the user each time a new emergency contact is added from Garmin Connect.
  • Added a new tip that will recommend the user to reboot the device if the GPS is unresponsive while waiting for a fix before an activity.
  • Added a new tip to notify the user that the Wrist Heart Rate Sensor is disabled. This tip will be displayed whenever accessing a heartrate-related glance while the wrist heartrate sensor is turned off on the device.
  • Added the Horseback activity.
  • Added the new Easyhunt feature to the DogTrack app.
  • Added the Resting Heartrate True-Up feature. RHR data now gets trued-up so that all devices tied to the same account will have the same RHR value.
  • Added enhanced strength functionality, which includes an improved workout preview with a map of muscles that will be used, improved UI in free mode and workouts, and improvements to the rep and weight editing experience.
  • Added animation to progress arc when viewing Intensity Minutes widget.
  • Updated incident detection to better distinguish between supported and unsupported activities.
  • Updated inReach messaging to now allow the watch to send messages up to 160 characters in length.
  • Updated support for Shimano Di2.
  • Improvements made to on-device sleep detection and sleep staging.
  • Improvements made to Run/Idle detection algorithm, particularly when detecting when the user has stopped.

Garmin Instinct 2 Series:

The Instinct 2 series gets the following set of 25 new features, plus a pile of improvements.

  • Added support for Edge Remote Display.
  • Added support for bike radar and lights.
  • Added the Breathwork Activity.
  • Added the Horseback Riding Activity.
  • Added the Pilates Activity.
  • Added the Snowshoe Activity.
  • Added the Tennis Activity.
  • Added the Track Run Activity.
  • Added the Respiration Rate data field.
  • Added the Active Calories data field.
  • Added the new Body Battery widget.
  • Added the new Intensity Minutes widget.
  • Added the Respiration Widget.
  • Added the ability to disable navigation turn alerts.
  • Added the privacy setting for smart notifications.
  • Added custom app logos for smart notifications.
  • Added support for yoga workouts.
  • Added watch face data field options for Pulse OX, Recovery Time, Training Status, 7 Day Load, VO2 Max, and Weekly Run/Bike Distance.
  • Added the new incoming call page.
  • Added run, walk, and stand detection during a run.
  • Added streaks for steps and floors climbed goals.
  • Added fitness age.
  • Added the auto lap by position setting.
  • Added power audio prompts.
  • Added a golf vibration reminder to enter a score when leaving a hole.
  • Added Real Time Settings keyboard support.
  • Improved the delay when going from the watch face in low power mode to the activity screen.
  • Improvements made to daily workout suggestions.
  • Improvements made to on-device sleep tracking.
  • Improvements made to PacePro performance.
  • Improvements made to the Real Time Settings Activities & Apps menu.
  • Improved the health snapshot page to allow hot keys when not in an active health snapshot reading.

I’ve gotta say, the Instinct set alone is basically making it a new product. Just look at how many new sport profiles, adding in things like the notable Track Run (previously promised, and bike radar/lights connectivity).

Garmin Forerunner 245/245 Music:

Here’s the list of updates for the Forerunner 245 & 245 Music, per the release notes:

Forerunner 245 (non-music):

  • Added enhanced strength functionality, which includes improved UI in free mode and workouts, and improvements to the rep and weight editing experience.
  • Improvements made to on-device sleep detection and sleep staging.
  • Improvements made to Run/Walk/Idle detection algorithm, particularly when detecting when the user has stopped.
  • Added the Resting Heartrate True-Up feature. RHR data now gets trued-up so that all devices tied to the same account will have the same RHR value.
  • Added a new tip to notify the user that the Wrist Heart Rate Sensor is disabled. This tip will be displayed whenever accessing a heartrate-related glance while the wrist heartrate sensor is turned off on the device.
  • Other minor improvements and bug fixes.

Forerunner 245 Music:

  • Added enhanced strength functionality, which includes improved UI in free mode and workouts, and improvements to the rep and weight editing experience.
  • Improvements made to on-device sleep detection and sleep staging.
  • Improvements made to Run/Walk/Idle detection algorithm, particularly when detecting when the user has stopped.
  • Added the Resting Heartrate True-Up feature. RHR data now gets trued-up so that all devices tied to the same account will have the same RHR value.
  • Added new alert to display after this SW update to inform user that Wi-Fi networks configured to WEP security are no longer supported.
  • Added a new tip to notify the user that the Wrist Heart Rate Sensor is disabled. This tip will be displayed whenever accessing a heartrate-related glance while the wrist heartrate sensor is turned off on the device.
  • Other minor improvements and bug fixes.

Garmin Forerunner 745 & 945 Series:

And the Forerunner 745:

  • Added enhanced strength functionality, which includes an improved workout preview with a map of muscles that will be used, improved UI in free mode and workouts, and improvements to the rep and weight editing experience.
  • Improvements made to on-device sleep detection and sleep staging.
  • Improvements made to Run/Walk/Idle detection algorithm, particularly when detecting when the user has stopped.
  • Added the Resting Heartrate True-Up feature. RHR data now gets trued-up so that all devices tied to the same account will have the same RHR value.
  • Added new alert to display after this SW update to inform user that Wi-Fi networks configured to WEP security are no longer supported.
  • Added a new tip to notify the user that the Wrist Heart Rate Sensor is disabled. This tip will be displayed whenever accessing a heart rate-related glance while the wrist heart rate sensor is turned off on the device.
  • Updates for Shimano Di2 support.
  • Other minor improvements and bug fixes.

The Forerunner 945:

  • Added enhanced strength functionality, which includes an improved workout preview with a map of muscles that will be used, improved UI in free mode and workouts, and improvements to the rep and weight editing experience.
  • Improvements made to on-device sleep detection and sleep staging.
  • Improvements made to Run/Walk/Idle detection algorithm, particularly when detecting when the user has stopped.
  • Added the Resting Heartrate True-Up feature. RHR data now gets trued-up so that all devices tied to the same account will have the same RHR value.
  • Added new alert to display after this SW update to inform user that Wi-Fi networks configured to WEP security are no longer supported.
  • Added a new tip to notify the user that the Wrist Heart Rate Sensor is disabled. This tip will be displayed whenever accessing a heartrate-related glance while the wrist heartrate sensor is turned off on the device.
  • Updates for Shimano Di2 support.
  • Other minor improvements and bug fixes.

Remember, the Forerunner 945 LTE is slightly behind on this update, presumably because it runs a bit different codebase than the Forerunner 945 does.

Garmin Venu 2 Series:

Here’s the Garmin Venu 2/2S:

– Added new sport profiles for Tennis, Snowshoeing, Pickleball, and Padel
– Added support for syncing step goal streak with Garmin Connect
– Added support for syncing resting heart rate across devices
– Added Run/Walk/Idle detection to the activity summary page for running sports
– Fixed an issue where invalid distances could be shown on the golf front-middle-back page
– Improved the user experience for incident detect and assistance
– Improved a variety of aspects with sleep detection

And the Garmin Venu 2 Plus units:

– Added new sport profiles for Tennis, Snowshoeing, Pickleball, and Padel
– Added support for syncing step goal streak with Garmin Connect
– Added support for syncing resting heart rate across devices
– Added Run/Walk/Idle detection to the activity summary page for running sports
– Fixed an issue where invalid distances could be shown on the golf front-middle-back page
– Improved the user experience for incident detect and assistance
– Improved a variety of aspects with sleep detection
– Added voice assistant volume slider to settings
– Added additional voice assistant and Bluetooth calling improvements
– Fixed a bug with music not pausing when voice assistant is activated, and will now resume after the assistant is finished
– Fixed a bug where users could get stuck on the call page if the phone did not respond to a hang up attempt

Note, the Vivomove 3/3S/Style/Lux series were supposed to be pushed this week as well, though I don’t quite see that showing up in the firmware updates listed. It’s getting Safety & Tracking feature updates around assistance and incident detection.

Ok – with that, I haven’t gotten anything more to add, so I’ll save you a fancy summary section, and let you get on with your weekend or getting your devices updated. I’d note that all of these updates have been in prolonged public beta for months in many cases, so the risk here is pretty low. I’ve been using the Fenix 7 and Instinct 2 changes specifically for a few months without any obvious issues for the features I use.

Thanks for reading!

DC Rainmaker:

View Comments (87)

  • Was there ever clarification on if the 945 would receive the ability to setup profiles and fields from the GC mobile app?

  • Do you know if the Descent Mk2 series will be on the same update schedule as the Fenix 6 series, or will it still lag behind?

    • I think it's just the usual dive watch being lagging from the primary watch. For example, the new Descent G1 (which is an Instinct 2), didn't get this update sweep, but it is very much in the hopper already.

      It's the added QA time for safety/etc that causes the lag.

    • I was a bit disappointed that they update the Mk2 every 9 months or so but at least now we have 12.20 which is about on par with this batch of Fenix 6 updates.

  • Bit irritating that the 945 LTE at just under 1 year old doesn’t get a lot of these updates, especially as it is based on memory and processor closer to the F7 in terms of hardware capabilities

    • As noted, the FR945 LTE is just a few weeks behind on most of these changes. For example, the Stamina and Garmin Connect Mobile changing ones from the Fenix 7 are all still on the radar.

  • So, at this point, Fenix 5 only gets bug fixes? Will they drop support any time soon?

    • Shouldn’t you have the Epix in the list also, or is it included in the fenix 7 lineup?

      Nice walkthrough of the update - have been running the beta fw for some weeks now and it just works 👍

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