Late last night Garmin released a substantial public beta program firmware update (which is technically an Alpha release within that program) to Fenix 7 & Epix units (and their subvariants including the Enduro 2), which adds 15 new features. These features range from various new sport modes and tweaks in golf and sailing, to including the Morning Report on the Fenix/Epix series, plus pulling in all the new Enduro 2 features (like Next Fork and Grade Adjusted Pace).
However, the big-ticket totally new item at the very bottom of the list is the addition of wrist-based running power for these watches. This means you no longer need a sensor (such as an HRM-TRI/RUN/PRO strap or RD-POD) to get running power. This brings them in line with what COROS, Polar, and more recently Apple, have had for quite a while. Keep in mind back this past spring Garmin added support for more integrated running power in the run mode. While they called this ‘native’ support because it made the experience (including structured workouts, zones, etc…) feel native, it did still require the sensor. Now it doesn’t.
Now again, this is in the first public alpha build, and this build covers the aforementioned Fenix 7/Epix series units. However, I confirmed with Garmin that the Forerunner 255 series, Forerunner 955 series, and Forerunner 945 LTE will also be getting the running power shortly in beta as well. Expect that measured in days or weeks for the FR255/955, with the Forerunner 945 LTE trailing slightly behind (as usual) due to carrier certification requirements. I don’t have details at the moment on the rest of the features, nor other watches, but I’ll update as I get them.
Now you can find the full feature list here on the Garmin Beta Forum, including where you can download this update. Again, remember this is an alpha release within the beta program, and as such will not automatically show up via WiFi/Bluetooth. Instead, you’ll need to manually download it. This beta update covers the Fenix 7 series watches, Epix, Quatix 7, and Enduro 2.
Obviously, the first 15 items are the new features (and I suppose it’s more than that, since even line #1 is actually three new sport modes. Beyond that I kept the bug fixes and improvements in here just for fun:
Added Anchor, Sail, Sail Race activities.
Added Auto-Rest for Ultra Run.
Added Backcountry Snowboard Activity.
Added Disc Golf Activity.
Added golf Scoring settings menu.
Added Grade Adjusted Pace data field.
Added haptics to more places, including scrolling lists.
Added Morning Report.
Added nautical units options for Boat, Sail, and Sail Race activities.
Added Next Fork data field.
Added Reference Point as a hot key option.
Added support for Armenian characters.
Added support for heart rate chest strap in Yoga/Breathwork/Health Snapshot.
Added Tides glance.
Added wrist based run power support.
Fixed issue causing sleep data to no longer show later in the day.
Fixed issue where Marine maps and Street maps weren’t rendering correctly together.
Fixed issue where two instances of map download continue prompt could show up after canceling a download.
Fixed issue with Do Not Disturb during sleep changing to “off” when entering and activity and backing out.
Fixed issue with glance folders where calendar could show the incorrect time.
Fixed issue with invalid values on race completion page.
Fixed issue with reviewing multisport legs.
Fixed issues with “Base” cycling daily suggested workouts.
Fixed last night HRV showing graph data when watch was not worn.
Fixed potential shutdown when editing map data fields.
Fixed slowness in segments list.
Fixed UI issue on timer when a lap is longer than 1 hour.
Fixed UI issue with zoom controls in golf green view.
Improved Daily Suggested Workout UI.
Improved map pan/zoom enter/exit experience.
Improved race predictor UI to allow back drag touch interaction from anywhere.
Improved speed of Wi-Fi.
Improved the power on page.
Improved UI around phone and Wi-Fi connection setup when these have not been set up previously.
Improvements and fixes to settings interaction with Garmin Connect mobile app.
Now from a sports standpoint, the big-ticket items are:
– Added Auto-Rest for Ultra run: This was added on the Enduro 2, and essentially will track rest time within a run without having to manually press a button.
– Added Grade Adjusted Pace data field: GAP has been around in TrainingPeaks and other platforms for years, but it essentially helps normalize pace on hillier routes, making it easier to compare to flat routes.
– Added Morning Report: This was launched on the Forerunner 255/955 and gives you a summary of health and training stats each morning when you wake up.
– Added Next Fork data field: Also introduced on the Enduro 2, this doesn’t require any route loaded, and will show you on the map page how much longer until the next trail junction
– Added support for heart rate chest strap in Yoga/Breathwork/Health Snapshot: Pretty self-explanatory, but ideal if optical HR isn’t your friend.
– Added wrist-based run power support: We’re gonna talk a lot about this down below.
For the above features, the Garmin Forerunner 955 will get Auto-Rest and GAP as part of the same near-term beta expected late next week that includes wrist running power. Later in the next quarterly update it’ll get the Next Fork feature. The Forerunner 255 will get GAP as part of the same wrist running power update late next week as well. Both already have Morning Report.
Got all that? Good, let’s try it out. If you’re not familiar with how to load the beta, see my previous post on it here.
Some Quick Tests:
I updated my firmware last night in anticipation of sleeping with it to show the new morning report. And that did work. Except, my photography of said moment did not work. Turns out there are some slight differences between how the morning report works on the Beta update for the Fenix 7/Epix series, and the Forerunner series. Specifically, on the Forerunner series you can easily move around within the morning report option, and it’s clear when you’re exiting it. Whereas on the Fenix/Epix, you can accidentally leave it very easily, hence how I have no imagery. But, as a reminder, here’s the morning report on a Forerunner watch:
It shows your sleep from the night before, HRV status, training readiness level, weather, and other stats that you can customize. Currently however, the beta of the Fenix 7/Epix doesn’t support customizing which information is shown. I’m sure that’ll come though at some point. You can though disable the entire feature if you want to in the settings.
Next, there’s the running power. When you open run for the first time it’ll actually notify you that it’s going to do running power from the wrist, and give you the option not to use it. Once you confirm, it’ll also confirm that it’s on:
What’s cool here, and a notable update from the Forerunner 255/955 (fear not, this will come to those watches too), is that you can now toggle the running power source (wrist, sensor, or automatic), as well as turn it off entirely. That’s useful for Stryd folks so that the Garmin running power doesn’t sully their existing running power data, since the values are quite different. Also, you can toggle whether to account for wind or not:
This is a feature Garmin had previously discussed they’d probably do, so it’s nice to see it here. Note at present you can’t pull in Stryd data into this implementation (you can still use the Connect IQ option of course), however, Garmin has talked about that better 3rd party integrations is one of their goals long term, but that basically there were other pieces of building the house they had to do first (such as the settings bits you see above).
In any case, my flight got delayed a couple of hours this morning, so I had time to sneak in a very quick run to check things out. In my case I used the Epix (wrist-based power), but also had a Forerunner 955 paired to the HRM-PRO Plus to compare, as well as the Stryd sensor collecting data, and an Apple Watch Ultra on the other wrist. Oh, and I took a COROS Vertix 2 too for fun (it does wrist-based power also), but since it wasn’t ideally positioned, I’d cut it some slack if it’s not right. Only got so much wrist space!
Out running, you’ll see your running power just like before (if you had a sensor). This includes simple power data fields, as well as power gauges.
Given it’s wrist-based, it’s actually kinda hard to get good comparative pictures in low-light conditions with non-wrist based, because if you hold your wrist up for more than a few seconds, it’ll (obviously) impact said power numbers. Thus why the Epix is lower than the Forerunner here. On the Forerunner pictured, the upper number is Stryd, and the lower number is HRM-PRO Plus provided power data.
I did notice that if I stopped, the wrist-based power definitely responded quicker than either the Garmin sensor-based power (about 2-3 seconds faster than it), as well as faster than Stryd (but I need to double-check all my Stryd settings to see if any smoothing is being applied).
Now at the end of the run you’ll get your power zone data just like before:
You’ll also get the new Grade Adjusted Pace. Given my run was a pancake, there’s no difference. When I land, there are more terrain options, so I’ll try stuff out there.
And then on Garmin Connect you’ll see the data there as well:
Of course, how does it compare? Well first, the usual caveat that there is no agreed upon standard in running power. As such, companies will be different. And until they all decide to agree upon a standard, then that’s just gonna be the situation we’re in. We’re mainly aiming for consistency here more so than absolutes. Further, there’s no phycological reason why running power and cycling power numbers should “match”. They’re totally different biomechanically, and any matching is purely coincidence. Still, here’s some data – including a handful of sprints roughly every kilometer or so. Here’s the data set on the DCR Analyzer if you want to dig deeper.
Because the text can be kinda hard to see:
- Apple Watch Ultra (left wrist): Purple
- COROS Vertix 2 (wrist-based non-optimally placed): Blue
- Stryd (footpod): Green
- Garmin HRM-PRO Plus (chest sensor): Reddish
- Garmin Wrist-Based (right wrist): Yellowish
In a nutshell, you see the Garmin HRM-PRO+ sensor provided running power data pretty darn similar to the wrist-based power (top two lines). The handful of little drops and such on the wrist side is when I’d try and take a photo. I’ll do a deeper dive into the data once I get another (longer) data set later today. But for now, it seems the story is that they trend relatively similarly.
This update basically has two sides to it. First are the new sport features for everyone else, and non-sport stuff as well – like the Morning Report. The morning report has become (on the FR955) one of my favorite recent features from Garmin. It’s just super easy to use at a quick glance in the morning, and I can move on with my day. Meanwhile, the Next Fork feature was incredibly useful many times over the summer on the Enduro 2 for me out hiking, especially during my 180KM Tour du Mont Blanc trek.
The second half of this update, while only one line item, is the wrist-based running power. This is something that many people have been asking for, for a long time. At first glance, it seems to roughly deliver what people have wanted. Of course, there’s more testing to come from me here. And again, there is no standard here, thus the bar for success is basically consistency, and ensuring it handles situations like walking/sprints/hills/etc ‘seemingly’ correctly.
With that, I’ve got plenty more this week on the table. As a reminder, tomorrow is the Google Pixel phone/watch event, so you’ll see plenty of hands-on stuffs stemming from that here shortly. With that – thanks for reading!
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