Garmin is testing out a new version of its Connect app with a selection of users. A lucky few have been asked in recent weeks if they want to trial a public beta version of the software.
The company’s app is the same across all its devices. Garmin has been developing its software for a while now but its fair to say the changes have been incremental. While not always easy to find, look hard enough and you will probably find the piece of information you are looking for – whether its in the app, on the website or on the watch itself.
Its fair to say, the current software provides a comprehensive set of features. There is a social aspect and various online groups and virtual rewards to celebrate milestones. More recently Garmin has introduced ‘Insights’, which provide interesting bits of information on trends related to your activity.
The app is, however, lacking in user friendliness and simplicity. Its not so much to do with the content and feature set, but more with presentation.
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If you’ve been preselected, you will have seen a pop-up with a message in the Connect app asking whether you would like to test the new version. The alternative is to head over to the Settings page of the app. If you are allowed access, you will see a “Beta Access” tab at the top of the page, which you can toggle to “On” for the new software. Below the toggle menu, you will find the following message:
“The new My Day view in this beta is built to simplify how you view your activity and health information, so you can see how you beat yesterday, every day. Once you dive in, you’ll notice that this is a true beta – bugs and all. it may even change from time to time as we work to improve it. Tell us what you like, what you hate, and what you think would make this app better, and we’ll end up with the best Garmin Connect yet.”
As shown from the screen-shots below, the change in presentation is quite significant.
While Garmin emphasises that the software is still in Beta stage, it seems fairly stable and bug-free. The tab at the bottom of the display is exactly the same as in the current app, but the start-screen has benefitted from a complete redesign.
It still provides a snapshot of your activity, but it is all much more intuitive now. Everything is arranged in separate tabs. Where appropriate, a progress bar at the top of the tab shows how close you are to meeting that particular goal. A green tick bar will appear in the right hand corner of the tab when you meet that goal. Your daily resting heart rate and high will also be shown along with a real-time hear rate reading.
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The tabs are also dynamically arranged. So if, for example, you’ve been swimming today, the activity will be shown towards the top. Clicking on most tabs will take you to a new screen with more detailed daily and weekly stats. The screen is also more colourful – much more colourful!
Because everything is now on a single page, you just scroll down instead of swiping between screens to see your daily data. Which is a nice improvement and a time-saver.
Access to the beta has been slowly rolling out to users. Everyone will have the option to opt in once the full rollout is complete.
All in all, Garmin seems to be on the right track. The software is long overdue for a visual update, so lets hope its not too long before its all finalised.
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