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Garmin Forerunner 255/265/955/965 Get Slate of New Features in Beta

Last night Garmin dropped a new beta firmware for the Forerunner 955 and 955 Solar, adding a slate of new features coming from the recently released Fenix 7 Pro & Epix Pro series. That feature set includes Hill Score, Endurance Score, weather radar overlays, and dozens of new sport profiles. In addition, the Forerunner 255 series also got a less expansive beta firmware adding a few new things too.

Now, before we get too techy – I do want to briefly point out that as of this very second as part of Amazon Prime Day (full sports tech list here), Amazon has the Forerunner 955 Solar for $90 off to $511USD, basically matching the non-Solar pricing. That’s a hot deal if there was one. Likewise, the existing Epix non-Pro is down to $599 ($300 off!) and $699 for the Sapphire edition. And the Fenix 7X solar is $599 too. Insane deals, and all those units also get these updates shortly.

Now obviously, the fact that the Forerunner camp got the update first will upset the existing Garmin Fenix 7 & Epix owners as the beta hasn’t dropped there yet. As usual, both consumers of either the Team Forerunner or Team Fenix/Epix camp get upset in the comments section when the opposite camp gets dibs on new features first. Nonetheless, Garmin has already promised the Fenix 7 & Epix owners are getting those features in an upcoming beta firmware update. As it happened this week, the Forerunner side dropped first, for all I know, Fenix/Epix could drop in 12 minutes. Or tomorrow. Or next week. Point is, it’s coming – hang tight!

Oh – and Garmin has confirmed that the Garmin Forerunner 265 & Forerunner 965 betas, with basically the same feature sets as below, will roll out in the next few days, with them targeting early next week.

What’s New:

clip_image001[16]

With that, let’s dive into what’s new for the Forerunner 955 and Forerunner 955 Solar:

  • Adds muscle maps to HIIT, Cardio, and Pilates activities
  • Adds the Endurance Score glance
  • Adds the Hill Score glance
  • Adds map types and map data field options
  • Adds weather maps to the Weather glance
  • Adds a Workouts app to the Activities & Apps list
  • Adds new activities for team sports, racket sports, and more
  • Adds notification watch face data field ability to display name or number
  • Adds support for new Di2 cassettes

When it comes to the new sport modes that were added, they are as follows:

Team Sports: American Football, Field Hockey, Ice Hockey, Soccer/Football, Lacrosse, Rugby, Ultimate Disc, Cricket, Softball, Baseball, Basketball, Volleyball

Cycling: BMX

Racquet Sports: Table Tennis, Squash, Racquetball, Badminton, Platform tennis

Motorsports: Overland, Snowmobile, ATV, Motorcycle, Motocross, Drive

Winter Sports: Ice Skating

Other: Archery, Boxing, Mixed Martial Arts

In addition, there’s a smattering of bug fixes too for the Forerunner 955/955 Solar:

  • Fixes Pace Pro screen freeze
  • Fixes flashlight not retaining last brightness level
  • Fixes some issues with Spotify
  • Fixes popularity map theme not being displayed
  • Fixes issues with glance folders
  • Various fixes for maps
  • Various other fixes
  • GPS Firmware Update
  • Sensor Hub Firmware Update

Meanwhile, the Forerunner 255 series gets the following:

  • Adds muscle maps to HIIT, Cardio, and Pilates activities
  • Adds map types and map data field options
  • Adds a Workouts app to the Activities & Apps list
  • Adds new activities for team sports, racket sports, and more
  • Adds notification watch face data field ability to display name or number
  • Fixes Pace Pro screen freeze
  • Fixes flashlight not retaining last brightness level
  • Fixes some issues with Spotify
  • Fixes popularity map theme not being displayed
  • Fixes issues with glance folders
  • Various other fixes
  • GPS Firmware Update
  • Sensor Hub Firmware Update

For the FR255/265, it’ll get all the new sport profiles except Overland, BMX, Snowmobile, ATV, Motorcycle, and Motorcross.

Garmin has confirmed the Forerunner 265 and Forerunner 965 beta will arrive in the coming days, likely early next week.

Got all that? Good, let’s get to installing it.

Installing it:

As always, remember this is part of the beta program. This means you shouldn’t install it on your watch and go do an Ironman race this weekend. It could and may do bad things during training/life, including but not limited to causing your pet goldfish to die. That said, this particular release is actually classified as a ‘Release Candidate’, so it should be relatively stable.

Nonetheless, if you don’t value your pet goldfish all that much, then you can hit up the sign-up page to enroll your device to receive beta updates. You can do that by going to Connect.Garmin.com and then, in the upper right corner, find your device and click on it.

GarminBetaSignup1

Then click to ‘Enroll’ in the beta. In my case, This unit is already enrolled:

GarminBetaSignup2

Then, on your device, go to: Main menu > Settings > System > Software Update > Check For Updates:

clip_image001 clip_image001[8]

You can then click back into that menu again to see the offer to install it:

clip_image001[14]

After that, you’re good to go. It’ll take a minute or two to install.

And from there you can go and dig into features like the new Hill Score and Endurance Score metrics. Unfortunately, as I saw with my Garmin Epix Pro & Fenix 7 Pro reviews, Unified Training Status is still in a weird state for Hill Score and Endurance Score. My Hill Score shows blank, and my Endurance score is far below what my Epix Pro on my wrist shows. But at least the synced-in Endurance Score is showing a 3-month graph now, even if it’s oddly low/wrong. On the Hill Score side, I guess the summer is the best time to start putting in those mountain climbs. But that’s a next week thing…

clip_image001[10]

Also, you’ll notice an entirely new feature that hasn’t quite yet arrived on the Fenix 7/Epix series, which is the new ‘Workouts’ app, that’s basically a shortcut to structured workouts:

clip_image001[18]

And, of course, you’ve got bits like the new Weather overlays, seen within the Weather widget:

clip_image001[12]

Beyond that, if you want to learn about all the new Epix Pro & Fenix 7 Pro features that just arrived to the Forerunner 955 series, you can actually watch my Epix Pro beginners guide I uploaded last week – as it walks through each of those features (and there are handy YouTube chapters to quickly navigate to them):

With that – thanks for reading (or watching)!

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102 Comments

  1. Robin

    Interesting to note you last synced your Garmin Swim in 2014. How many Garmin devices do you have attached to your account just out of interest?

    • I’m actually not sure how many are listed. I periodically clean out the loaner/beta/whatever devices when I remember, but that’s pretty rarely (once every year or two).

      It doesn’t list a quantity, it just scrolls forever. I’m going to guess 150-250?

    • Robin

      Wow. Just wow (although not surprising).

  2. PC

    Any thoughts on whether the endurance and hill features will come up the Instinct 2x?

    Thanks add always, Ray.

    • I wouldn’t expect it, since the line – price-wise – is drawn at the Forerunner 265 not getting it, and the 2X is basically the same price ballpark.

    • PC

      Gotcha. I’m a little confused though as I thought you were indicating in the article that the 265 would be getting many of the features by next week. Did I misread?

    • PC

      I got it now after watching the video. Lots of new features coming to the 265 (and hence the 2x), but not endurance and hill climb. Bummer.

    • inSyt

      Strange that Garmin isn’t brining the Endurance Score to it’s (more affordable) better selling devices as it is sport-agnostic and it is comparable with other peoples scores. The comparable part is not very useful if you do not have a lot of people to compare with. Garmin is once again sabotaging long term adoption for short term sales like they did with Garmin Pay.

    • While I agree on the now self-impossed wonk of Instinct 2 getting it but FR255 not getting it, I think Endurance Score/Hill Score is a bit different in this realm.

      Garmin has long (since inception) differentiated features based on price point of the watch, and I think it’s fair to say that Endurance Score & Hill Score definitely target the endurance athlete and one likely to have a higher-end watch. Likewise, Apple does the exact same thing. One only need to look at Precision Start on the Apple Watch Ultra. There’s exactly zero reasons that can’t be offered on all the other Apple Watch units – but they do it for price differentiation.

      I don’t really have a problem with price differentiation in general for software features (across companies for any type of product), as long it’s at least half-way logical. I think the 255/Instinct 2 thing with Training Readiness is where things get very fuzzy very quickly.

    • inSyt

      I agree with you. The 255 still offers amazing value even without training readiness, hill and endurance scores, especially for running and cycling. It’s also understandable that they reserve certain things like maps, climb pro, etc for higher end watches.

      I just think that for some features, limiting it to higher end watches limits adoption. Garmin Pay for example is not supported by my bank because most people purchase Garmin watches below the $299 price point for running and cycling in South Africa which does not support Garmin Pay. The Forerunner 55 is probably the best seller right now. But, tap to pay is huge in South Africa, so Garmin has this killer differentiator that they are not fully utilizing.

      The Endurance Score, they could use this as a way to Gamify challenges across different sports. But they will need to bring this to the mass selling watches to achieve this If the hardware can calculate v02max, then it should have no issues with calculating endurance scores.

      LTE for Livetrack and Spotify streaming, another killer feature that they seem to have abandoned. I get that this will be reserved for the more expensive watches, but none of the expensive released this year has LTE. Maybe if they merged their firmware teams, they will have more time to work on LTE.

      I just feel like they need to put more a little more effort into driving adoption of some of their key features instead of simply creating new watches and features at higher price points. This will serve them better in the longer term, especially with all the advancements Apple is making in the fitness space, which will no doubt be replicated by Google.

  3. Jb600cbr

    do you think that the graphic effects of the widgets of the 965 will be added to the epix pro?

    • Radiomarkert

      no, never and ever. Wait epix 3

    • They said they don’t plan to, as they want the Epix lineup to have a more ‘Professional’ look.

      Honestly, that doesn’t make much sense to me – as it simply looks dated by comparison. Note, one does need to separate watch faces (which some people find on the FR965 aren’t their thing), from the rest of the UI. We’ll see what happens though, as most comments (albeit not 100%) from Epix users seem to want the bulk of the 965 interface/UI look.

    • Jb600cbr

      thank you for the answer.

      so garmin believes that if it’s beautiful it’s not “professional” 😁. interesting as a concept 😛

  4. Ryan

    Is there a chance the new stuff is coming to the Fenix 7 or just sticking to the Pro?

  5. Matt

    I think you have a typo in the title… I think you mean 265 not 266?

  6. Samuel

    Reasonable, but the lack of Training Readiness for the 255 is just…cheap? 955 matches 965, but 255 won’t match the 265 because reasons.

    • Patrick

      yes, but to be fair, the 255 is cheap (relatively speaking) – you get most of the significant features of the 955 at a far cheaper price, with the option of a smaller size too. to my mind, training readiness is pretty much the only reason why most anyone should buy a 955 over a 255 (i’m sure there are a few other things i’m forgetting though).

      it is inconsistent though that the 265 does get it

    • It’s mostly a price line, not a model line. As Patrick noted, the 255 is cheaper – quite a bit – than the 265. That’s why they made the line they did price-wise.

      Meanwhile, the FR955/965 is currently seen (in the short term anyways) as a choice of the same watch but in two different display options.

  7. Pranith

    Will 945 LTE be getting any of these features?

  8. Eli

    Will the edge get any of these features? Map overlay and endurance score seem like they apply to a bike computer

  9. Reccol

    Yeah, wait before updating. It ruined my training suggestions, adding a lot of time (up to a minute/km) to my suggested tempo.

  10. FlipStone

    Apparently this beta completely breaks connectiq fields as well… So don’t update if you use those (for example stryd datafield, but basically all od them)

    • Antler

      can confirm on FR955. The CIQ field get removed from all of your activities. You can add them back but they get removed again (usually replaced by “Timer”!

    • inSyt

      Yes, it is ridiculous that they released this as a release candidate without picking up such a major bug.

  11. Campbell

    Is there a compelling reason to get the 265 (apart from the AMOLED screen) over the 255?

    • Training Readiness is on the 265 and not the 255.

    • msquared

      265 (beyond the screen difference) also has touch screen. If all you wear it for is running, then buttons alone are fine. I have a 255 for this exact reason. But IF you want all the benefits of a modern Garmin (body battery, sleep, etc) this demands 24×7 wear for which you absolutely WILL want touch screen.

    • John

      Hard disagree here. The touchscreen is really only useful for maps – and the 255/265 don’t have maps (well, only breadcrumbs). I can’t see ever using the touch screen on a 255/265 without maps. Well – maybe the only thing – on some widgets, you can now swipe left (e.g. HR, barometric pressure), to go back further in time – that’s fairly useful. But really – you don’t need a touchscreen on a 255/265.

    • This is definitely an area of personal preference, but that’s what’s cool with Garmin’s 2022 and beyond approach to their Forerunner/Fenix units: You can do all touch if you want, all button if you want, or a very specific/custom blend of the two, as you see fit.

      For me, day to day, no matter the Garmin watch, I don’t tend to use buttons much – except maps. But to each their own!

  12. Leo

    I don’t get upset if the forerunner gets the software update first or the fenix gets it first.

    I do get upset by the oh so stupid way garmin develops the same firmware twice. Why can’t they develop just 1 firmware for all their watches?

    Just merge the 2 teams. Then fewer developers are needed for developing new features and use the other developers to fix bugs. There’s plenty of work in bugfixing.

    Or better yet. Stop developing new features all together and just work on software quality and testing.

  13. Pavel Vishniakov

    Nice! I especially love the Workouts view to quickly find / delete the workouts saved on the watch (because, surprisingly, there’s still this stupid 20-workout limit).

    And, hopefully, new map data fields (especially the one with data around the map) lands on 955 as well

  14. Jure

    Intersting…Is there a chance this would come to Fenix 6 series? It would be excellent…

  15. Neil Jones

    Are the new sport modes just a convenient way of categorising activities with screens tailored to the activity, or do they have activity-specific algorithms (as I think some of the core activities do)? For example, if I play football for 90 minutes will I see the same training impact on my metrics in Garmin Connect regardless of whether I use the Football activity or the Cricket or even Snowmobile ones to record it?

    • Some do have sport-specific, but it’s first and foremost a categorization thing.

      Virtually all Garmin load metrics are based on HR intensity, except in cases of cycling power, or for things like Hill Score which has a speed component. So in using these new profiles, it doesn’t really matter which one you use.

  16. thanks for gathering this sort of news! 🙂

    is there a way to find which devices support a given feature, e.g. Hill Score? I could not find it on garmin website

  17. The dreamer

    I have a dream, that someday Swim2 owners will get an update too. And in that dream, little swimmers boys and little swimmers girls will be able to raise their hends, and see their battery percenage.
    (I know, i tend to dream big)

  18. emem

    > Adds map types
    > Fixes popularity map theme not being displayed
    Considering that Forerunner 255 doesn’t have maps are those mistakes or just copy/paste from 955 notes?
    (Or just Garmin writing unclear descriptions?:)

  19. Zoltan

    Are you sure this is still considered a release candidate? At the last beta cycle Garmin changed the beta program naming convention so there are no more alpha releases everything is called beta and there is no more distinction between the alpha/beta and beta/rc releases. So naturally I’m a little confused.

    • I linked the release notes page, and at the top it says: “This update, version 16.09, is a Release Candidate. “Release Candidate” means that this exact software version is planned to “Go Live” as a public update as long as no critical issues are observed

    • Zoltan

      Oh, yeah, my bad, I didn’t read that. Still kinda interesting I always saw at least a few not RCs before the first one, but it just garmin doing garmin things then.

    • For whatever reasons, the Forerunner side over the last year has tended to wait till longer in the process and then releases RC’s rather than beta builds. Not always, but notably more than the Outdoor (Fenix/Epix) teams. Not sure why.

      Generally speaking, the Outdoor team has more baggage models that they have to deal with. So the firmware for the Fenix 7 also supports Enduro 2, and Tactix 7, and umpteen other variants. Perhaps they want more coverage there.

    • Eli

      Clearly the UI is different between sports and outdoor watches but the core functional code may be the same. This means the watch that is getting the feature during development will have more betas of the feature

  20. Dmitry Pupkov

    Any chance to see Jetlag feature on 955? I remember that was noticed last year…

  21. wagner

    Hi, i have 965 and im beta but garmin dont show any update, just wait or anything i can do? thanks.

  22. gingerneil

    Any idea what they have fixed with Spotify? I find it annoying that you can’t skip forward in a podcast, and even more annoying when it restarts a podcast after a sync (altho with no obvious pattern to when it does this). I can be an hour in to a 2 hour episode, it restarts, and I have no way of skipping forwards. I have restarted using Playrun as a result, but it would be handy to have just one ‘music’ app.
    The shuffle always seems to play music tracks in same order too – so if i am working through a 100 track playlist, even with shuffle, it will always play in the same order! arrghhhh!

  23. pavlinux

    What does “Adds notification watch face data field ability to display name or number” mean?

    • It means they added the ability to display name or number via notification watch face data field.

      I mean, obviously.

      (Just kidding, I have absolutely no idea what the heck that means either, I’ll volley and ask.)

  24. wefhy

    Do you know if Inline Skating was intentionally not included in the update? Or is it something we can expect? I bought my 955 a week ago due to rumors it’ll have that activity. I wonder if I should return it now…

  25. Dave

    Ray,

    Since this looks like its the release that dumps the 945 LTE, is there any indication of a new higher end LTE device any time soon?

  26. Guillaume

    Hey Ray! is this update rolled out to every beta members? It doesn’t seem to update to 16.09 on my FR255 (not music, so no wifi I reckon) and it still on 15.19.
    I tried syncing with Garmin express, and the in the setting menu but I only have the auto update option, not the second “check for updates” (on the watch and the Garmin connect app).
    I would love to have the new activity types!
    Thanks for the post and video, very informative as usual!

    • It should be, assuming you’ve manually checked for updates and are enrolled. Does your unit ID show as enrolled on the Garmin website?

    • Guillaume

      I reckon the garmin website is garmin connect then yes. I’ll be patient it may come later on my device!

    • Ryan M.

      I could be wrong, but I thought that when they changed the way their beta programs worked, they also limited it to Wifi devices for pushing the updates through Wifi instead of via Connect.

  27. Jason

    And still no skateboarding for activities.

  28. Stuart

    “It could and may do bad things during training/life, including but not limited to causing your pet goldfish to die.”

    Bubbles deserves it. He knows what he’s done.

  29. Bill Petrosino

    When will this Beta actually hit? I am beta-enrolled and am currently on version 15.19 . I check for updates in the Connect app and thorugh the phone – and none are available…. Is this some special edition “DC Rainmaker only” update 🙂

    Forerunner 955
    BETA ENROLLED
    Software is up to date — Version 15.19
    Report a Beta Software Issue
    Leave Beta Software Program
    Synced Wednesday, Jul 12 at 6:08 PM

  30. Matt

    Any idea on status for the 945 LTE or is it now just getting security fixes and no new features?

  31. arathunku

    For anyone looking into using thi beta version… I’d suggest to wait until issue with CIQ fields is resolved: https://forums.garmin.com/beta-program/forerunner-955-series/f/community-discussion/339226/16-09—data-screens-reset-after-update (assuming you use CIQ data fields)

  32. John

    Will the 945 LTE get this update?

  33. Tribikelee

    Will the 255 get cycling dynamics? I have the dual vector 3 pedals, and would like to get that functionality, but all watches that have it seem to be either larger or heavier than the 255.

    • Guillaume

      have you been able to get the firmware update on the 255 (not 255 music)? I can’t get it to update yet 🙁

  34. On how these will sync up, unlikely for Endurace Score to include rides from a 530 but probably would from a 540?

    • It should. That data just gets rolled into Unified Training Status and then pushed back to the device. All my discussions indicate that piece should work fine (basically, and especially, the ‘Workout’ portion can pretty much come from any old Garmin device).

    • Robin

      So, if I record a ride on my E520, my Fenix 7 will calculate all the metrics as if I’d recorded it on my F7 once it all syncs?

    • Robin

      Just went for a ride with solely recording on my Edge 520. No changes in load etc on my Fenix 7 (or GC) despite the ride being synced numerous times since I completed it an hour or so ago.

    • Hmm, that’s odd. I’ll have to ask, but when I had a call with them, they said that for training status/load it should definitely update.

      It doesn’t show any load update at all on the day-of-the-week graph either?

    • Robin

      Thanks Ray. There is grey line on the watch, but nothing in GC.

  35. Marta

    I found it disappointing that they dumped new features support for the fenix 6 line so quickly. I would have expected some of these to filter through prev gen especially for fenix or 945/955 as the more mid/top range models. Reminds me of suunto in latter years, sans the OS tinkering.

  36. Chris

    Hoping someone at Garmin sees this…

    With the beta update, navigation is not usable anymore. When you’re just running with no turns coming up – it’s fine – the bottom 1/8th of the screen shows the distance to the next turn and you can see where you are on the map like normal. When you get the “turn notification” though – that bottom section goes from 1/8th of the screen to 1/3 and it completely covers up your current location on the map. The only thing you can do is stop and wait for that black covering to go away so you can see your current location again.

    All of that would be fine if you just moved the map UP a little higher so you could still see your current location even with the prompt screen covering up the bottom 1/3 of the map.

    I’m on the 955 non solar if that’s important. Navigation worked PERFECT before this update and we use it daily.

    • arathunku

      It would be better if you reported this is on beta forum – link to forums.garmin.com

      There’s much higher chance someone from Garmin will read it. That’s also more issues with this “release candidate”😕😔

    • Guillaume

      I reckon it would be best if you post it through the proper beta feedback channel. You can report bugs through the garmin connect website on your device page (where you can opt in or out of beta program)
      They’ll see it there most likely

    • Chris

      Thanks! It’s posted on their forum as well now.

  37. Andrew Y

    I tried following your instructions through Garmin connect to enroll my 255 into beta but there was nothing there.

  38. Peter

    did they as well added the sailing sport mode, or will this stay with the fenix and epix?

  39. TS

    Hi Ray, any information on the 945 LTE? I had thought of it as being in delayed lockstep with the 955 but not sure if that’s right.

  40. Andrii

    A little bit off-topic, is there any options to improve/fix gps accuracy when riding in tunnels using Garmin 955? expect multi-band mode. for example a quite popular road in Livigno 95% is in a tunnel. and speed, gps are 💩.

    link to connect.garmin.com

    • Stuart

      You’re never going to get good GPS accuracy in a tunnel. The signal just won’t penetrate into the road area. Your best bet is to get a speed sensor and stick it on your wheel; the track won’t be correct, but the speed at least will be accurate through your ride (as long as you don’t pick up the wheel with the speed sensor on it and spin it, as I sometimes do when I’m stopped at lights and need to shift to a lighter gear before I start moving again.)

  41. Dan

    14 days from this post and the beta for 965 is not available yet. They must have change their minds along the way 🙁

  42. Ryan Goldvine

    Something has gone sideways with Garmin. Just picked up a new 955 yesterday and it won’t update past v.13.23, says that’s the most up to date version, even with being enrolled in the beta.

  43. Hey Ray, I just noticed the FR 965 is not listed on your excellent Product Comparison Calculator 🙂

    Thanks!

  44. Miguel

    Does 265 already have Tennis Sport? In addition to running, I play tennis and at launch I didn’t have it.

  45. Simon

    I am trying to update my Forerunner 255s but I am not able to update it even after signing up for the beta version. My watch is currently on the 15.19 version and I am struggling to update it to any higher beta version. Anyone knows why?

  46. Kai

    It’s been almost a month. I see 16.12 fixing issues and it was called a release candidate. Even that was almost a month ago.
    Anyone guessing when this is actually beeing released for the 955 as a non-beta?
    I’m normally not so excited about updates, but the new stuff really sounds good

  47. Rajesh

    I have installed 16.9 on my Garmin Forerunner 255 endurance score and hill scores are not there yet.

  48. Malcolm

    Does anyone know what has happened to the forerunner 255. The forerunner 255S is listed, but not the 255.

    It is not appearing on the list of products either current or archived. Doing a search on google takes me to a page that is unavailable.

    I’m in the UK.

  49. BjornatDCR

    Nap tracking (probably amongst other features that I’m not aware of) added to the 255 in software version 17.26.

    Just noticed it this morning after installing yesterday evening. Good to see the 255 is still being improved on the feature side.