Garmin Launches ‘Connected GPS’ Functionality For Wearables Without having GPS (Vivosmart four & Vivomove three)

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Final week Garmin ever so quietly added so-known as ‘Connected GPS’ functionality to the Garmin Connect Mobile application, when concurrently releasing a firmware update for the Vivosmart four (which came a year ago), as effectively as incorporating it into the base Vivomove three announced final Thursday. The functionality basically offers these wearables GPS, as they do not have GPS chipsets inside currently. This functionality follows with what Fitbit added a lot of years ago for their GPS-much less wearables, below the ‘Connected GPS’ name as effectively.

This enables you to not only record a GPS track leveraging your phone’s GPS capabilities, but also get/see speed and distance on your wearable, regardless of not getting any sensors or GPS in the unit itself. This is specially notable with cycling, given that it cannot alternatively use the accelerometer like it can for walking/operating activities. Which, by the way, is a superior time to note that Garmin also now added in cycling as a sport to the Vivosmart four as well.

Considering that this is one thing that a lot of persons have been asking about for years, I figured I’d give it a super fast whirl about the block. Or a lot more particularly, a whirl on this morning’s bike commute.

Setup &amp Configuration:

Setup is silly effortless, but very first you will want to make confident your device is totally up to date. In the case of the Vivomove three it comes with the essential computer software, whereas if you have got the Vivosmart four, you will have to have to update the firmware. Garmin’s smartphone app has probably currently carried out that for you in the background in the final week or so, but you can force the concern employing Garmin Express on the desktop with the charging cable. You are hunting to be on firmware version four. or greater.

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The above screenshot was the highlight of my small Vivosmart 4’s life. It is been living its life from box to box, eventually now in a clear Rubbermaid container on a shelf subsequent to dozens of other containers. But today….nowadays it was known as into duty!

And in truth, it is specifically why I go out and get my personal units just after returning the loaner ones – for posts like these (and comparison shots in critiques). This would be the very first time this device got to practical experience the wilds of outdoors. Or even becoming charged. It is life is now fulfilled.

In any occasion, assuming you have got your wearable all updated, also go ahead and make confident your iOS or Android app is updated as well. You will have to have the most current version of Garmin Connect Mobile on there in order to see the new connected GPS options.

And that is it, there’s absolutely nothing else to do or configure.

Applying it:

This is equally as uncomplicated. To use the connected mode you will go to start off a exercise like you usually would by tapping the small runner man (or lady) icon.

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You will then pick your sport (keep in mind you defined these inside the app below A lot more &gt Garmin Devices &gt Activity Choices), which is a superior time to point out that as element of this exact same firmware update (four.00), Garmin has added cycling as an activity.

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So, I chosen cycling for my ride to function:

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Immediately after you have chosen your sport on the device itself, it’ll ask you no matter if you want to “Use Telephone GPS?”:

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If you pick ‘Yes’, it’ll go ahead and make certain it can connect to your telephone.  As soon as it is carried out, it’ll confirm that. It could take a handful of seconds, and in some circumstances I had to open my telephone up for it to make the initial connection, then I could stick it in my pocket.

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Immediately after confirming it is connected you will see a tiny telephone icon subsequent to your sport, indicating the connection to your telephone for connected GPS. Basically double-tap like regular to start off the exercise.

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And then at this point you are off and recording like regular, now with heart price and GPS for distance. In truth, you will see distance as effectively as speed for cycling as alternatives inside the configurable information fields on your smartphone:

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And when out riding (or what ever it is you do), you will see that metric right here as effectively. In my case, I just did a commute to the workplace as my test. Nothing at all fancy. The top rated line is the distance. Sorry, the photo tends to make the show appear funky, the refresh price on these kinds of wearables tends to make it definitely difficult for cameras to get superior clean photographs (and in this case, my most important camera battery had died so I had to use my telephone).

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Afterwards I saved the quick track, and confident adequate you will now get a map on Garmin Connect/Garmin Connect Mobile. Note you will see it shows ‘Connected GPS’ on the reduce left side.

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And here’s how that GPS looked accuracy-smart connected to my iPhone X on my bike’s handlebars with a Quadlock mount, as compared to the devoted GPS of the Garmin Venu on the other wrist:

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In common it is fairly close, but there are circumstances exactly where the Connected GPS Vivosmart four goes a bit askew, such as this section right here (the Venu is spot-on):

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And then once more a bit later exactly where it went to the incorrect road once more. In truth, in each circumstances it seems to lock onto a nearby road (however I was on the bike path subsequent to it). Which is kinda funny. I’m not conscious of any logic to do that, so these could be just coincidence versus some sort of actual logic employing telephone information.

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Eventually, the devoted GPS of Venu was much better than the iPhone X connected Vivosmart four. Here’s the complete GPS track for these that want to dig into it. As I noted, it is not pretty extended, just my commute with a bit additional/tweaked for superior measure.

In common when I’m hunting at ‘Connected GPS’ sort implementations, you have to keep in mind that the phone’s GPS accuracy is a significant element of it. But it is not the entire image. Practically each mainstream app that leverages GPS for fitness also does some smoothing, tweaking, and otherwise modification of the information coming in. Occasionally to ‘fix’ challenges with it, and at times creating points worse. When undoubtedly Garmin has boatloads of GPS practical experience, they do not to my know-how have boatloads of telephone-primarily based GPS fitness track practical experience. As such, I suspect we’ll see them stumble by means of all the weird idiosyncrasies of many telephone models/vendors more than the subsequent handful of months as persons uncover weird quirks. This can also consist of quirks about points like dropouts of GPS or connectivity.

These quirks are realistically the exact same stuff Fitbit has had to deal with for years, so they’ll have a bit of a jumpstart there. Even though I do not assume that’ll matter a ton. Garmin’s launching this on two merchandise that in the grand scheme of the wearables planet are fairly low-volume. Hence, they’ll be capable to function points out with no as well a lot of nitpicky people noticing.

In any case – for now even though – it is a cool small function that appears to function as anticipated, when you get it up and operating.

(Side note: Some people (such as me) have noted some quirks with receiving the new cycling sport to show up in the app, or on the device. I attempted restarting the app with no luck, but I followed somebody on the Garmin Forums saying to restart the telephone (yes, it is odd). That didn’t function for me even though does for some. Nor would the device effectively connect to GPS on the telephone either initially. Eventually, just after making certain my firmware was totally updated, I went into the settings on the Vivosmart four and just reset it back to factory defaults with information deletion, and then deleted the Vivosmart four out of my Garmin Connect Mobile app, as effectively as deleted the listing in the Bluetooth manage panel. Then I re-paired it like a new watch. Note you do not shed any information in Garmin Connect this way, so as extended as you are sync is carried out just before you delete, the entire operation will take only about two-three minutes. I suspect that one thing was stuck exactly where the smartphone app wasn’t seeing the new four. firmware on my device, and hence not opening the doors to all the new options. In any case, hope this aids somebody.)

Going Forward:

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It is fairly a lot a no-brainer that Garmin’s going to consist of this in any new GPS-much less wearable merchandise going forward, such as they did final week with the Vivomove. Even though, I suspect, like Fitbit, they’ll preserve it to the mid-variety GPS-much less devices. For instance, Fitbit does not truly give this on their reduce finish ($69) Fitbit Inspire trackers. Only points beginning at about $99 with the Inspire HR help it. In Garmin’s case, I’ve gotta think that’d translate to the simple Vivofit series not receiving it. But probably I’ll be incorrect in the future.

I assume there are truly some cooler use circumstances inside the Garmin ecosystem for this even though. For instance, the new V2 speed sensors that have offline storage on them. I’d really like to see a uncomplicated toggle exactly where I could have it automatically develop an actual GPS track when the speed sensor wakes up and talks to the telephone (anytime the wheel begins). Then from there I’d really like to see heat-maps of my cycling more than time in my Garmin Connect account.

Provided that functionality of the new sensors is definitely targeted at bike commuters, it’d be a super cool function, specially in a month-to-month summary report like what Google and other people do about place information.

And of course longer-term I’d really like to see clean hand-offs involving devices and the telephone. For instance – say your Garmin Edge device is operating low on battery through the final handful of miles of a century ride, down to its final 1%, and you have to have a bit a lot more time – how about handing off the completion of that GPS track to the telephone? This way it all ends up on a single activity. Once again, I’m not asking for Garmin to recreate Strava, I’m hunting for Garmin to uncover strategies for this to complement the devices persons acquire. And this function is hardly unprecedent – Apple truly does the inverse to save battery: By default, if your telephone is with you, Apple Watch will use that signal alternatively.

In any case, you and I can come up with cool tips all day extended (probably drop them down under), but for now – this is a completely functional very first try at connected GPS for Garmin’s wearables.

With that – thanks for reading!

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