It is typically a good idea to install the latest firmware update to your smartwatch or fitness tracker. It often contains critical bug fixes, security updates, along with new functionality. In this article we explain how to update your Garmin.
What is the latest available firmware version?
First find out what is the latest version of the software that is available for your device. Garmin publishes info on all its firmware releases along with a detailed change-logs. It is good to read through this to understand what new functionality will be available on your watch or fitness tracker once you refresh the software.
The info can be found on Garmin’s website. For example, the page for Vivoactive software updates can be found on this link. If you have a Fenix 6, head over to this page. Unfortunately it can be a bit tricky locating the page. You will actually need to do a Google search.
Let’s say you have a Forerunner 935. To access info on the latest firmware version you’ll need to do a Google search for the term “Garmin forerunner 935 updates”. Click through to the page and you’ll find that version 14.10 is the latest software (at the time of writing this article). It was released on August 17th 2019 and brought improved pairing experience with ANT+/BLE sensors, bug fixes for golf and more.
Is your Garmin up to date?
The next step is to determine whether your watch or fitness tracker up to date. You’ve checked for the latest available software version on Garmin’s website, but is this firmware on your device?
For wearables with a screen you can do this by going to Settings>About. To use the Garmin Forerunner 935 as an example, again. Long press the middle button. This will take you through to a menu. Navigate down until you see Settings. Open this and choose About. On this page you’ll see your unit device and below it will be the software version installed on the watch.
Firmware is the programming which is sits on your watch. It contains all the clever stuff so functions like the brain of the device on your wrist.
As mentioned above, firmware updates are useful as they sometimes bring additional functionality. Even more importantly, they provide bug fixes and patch any security flaws. In most cases we suggest installing the latest firmware version that is available. However, sometimes you may want to exercise caution.
Check the forums
There have been instances where instead of squashing bugs, firmware updates introduced new ones. Garmin is not too guilty of that, but other brands (which will go unnamed..) are. This is why companies often opt for progressive rollouts. That type of strategy allows them to monitor whether users are experiencing any issues with the new software.
You might, therefore, want to check Garmin forums to see what experience others have had with firmware updates. They can be found on this link. It is also a good place to post issues you might be experiencing with your watch, as other forum users who’ve had similar problems might offer solutions.
The forums are organized into different groups. There are also separate areas of each device so its easy to find what you are looking for.
Updates are typically installed automatically through the Garmin Connect App. There is nothing for you to do as it will be done for you. Usually, a new release might take up to a week before it is pushed to your watch or fitness tracker.
Ideally you should be notified when there is a new update available and given the option whether to install or not. Unfortunately this is not always the case and some watches will just install it.
You are able to stop automatic firmware updates on some devices. This can typically be found on the settings page of the device. Go to Settings>System>Software update and you should see Auto Update with an on/off option. Make your preference.
Unlike firmware updates, there are some things which will not be installed automatically. This includes data files on the latest Maps or Golf courses. To push this to your device you’ll need to install Garmin Express.
Garmin Express can install any available updates for you. This is an application that manages your device from a PC or Mac computer. To install it on your machine head over to this page. Choose whether you want to download the Windows or Mac version, run it and follow the installation instructions.
In addition to installing the latest firmware update, Garmin express also updates your maps, marine charts, installs golf course updates and more. Just make sure not to disconnect your device from the computer in the middle of the update process.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and smartwatches
Connecting your device via a USB cable to the computer through Garmin Express will also sync any data. It might be a good option if you are having problems with the smartphone app or your phone is not around.
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