Garmin has launched earlier today a new public Beta Program and Beta Forums. This allows users of certain devices to receive beta software updates automatically, through Garmin Connect Mobile or via Garmin Express.
Up to now, Beta software updates needed to be downloaded manually from Garmin forums. Typically, the download links could be found on the top of the particular device forum. You then needed to unzip the file and install it manually by plugging your Garmin watch into a USB port on your computer. This is done by saving the files into the appropriate folder on the Garmin watch and following instructions to complete the installation.
Now those days are over for customers of a few popular Garmin devices. It has been made much easier for them.
Of course, this does carry some risk. Needless to say, there’s no guarantee your watch or fitness tracker will work as intended with a Beta software release. But if you are an early adaptor, the adventurer type or just plain impatient, know that the steps for installing Beta software updates are a bit different going forward for the Fenix 6, Fenix 7, Epix 2 and a few other devices.
Garmin’s new public Beta Program and Beta Forums
With this latest restructuring, joining in the Beta Program and installing new versions of the software should be a breeze. Those who are interested need to sign up to receive these types of software updates automatically. If you really like to live dangerously, Garmin says that in time they will also allow users to sign up to Alpha software updates via the same system!
The whole thing will basically work through the same distribution channel as regular public software updates. Which means via Bluetooth receiving info from Garmin Connect Mobile or via Garmin Express on your Mac or PC. The company says it has also restructured its forum pages to make it easier to report bugs in the software.
How to join or leave Garmin Beta Program
In order to sign up you’ll need to log via the web into connect.garmin.com with your password and user name. Then click on your watch in the top right-hand corner and select Device Settings. You should see a message that says “Join Beta Software Program“.
The web page will then ask you to accept the “Terms and Conditions” to join the program. A confirmation notification will follow letting you know that you are successfully enrolled. That’s all there is to it. All the Beta updates should come to your watch automatically from that point on.
Once you have signed up, a new link will be added in the settings allowing users to report bugs and issues. Clicking on that will take you through to the appropriate forum page. This is separated into Public Beta and Public Alpha bug reports.
As shown in the screen-shot below, leaving the Beta Program is just as easy. Simply click on the link “Leave Beta Software Program” and follow the instructions.
It is worth noting, for now the new Beta Program is only available for select devices. Presumably, this will be expanded in time.
The current list includes:
- Fenix 6
- Fenix 7
- Epix 2
- Tactix Delta
- Quatix 6
In order for the device to be eligible to join the program, it can only be registered to one Garmin account. Which should not be a problem as most watches are.
For Fenix 7 and Epix 2, the new program kicks off with Beta 8.18. For Fenix 6 with Beta 21.00. So if you sign up for automatic updates but already have these versions on your watch – no new software will be installed. Only the subsequent software updates will.
This also means that users of these devices will not be able to download future Beta software updates manually via the forum. Bad news for those who prefer this route.
What about other Garmin watches?
For now non-compatible Garmin watches (which includes all the Forerunners) will continue to work as they had previously. By manually downloading Beta updates via the forums. For those interested, we have compiled a detailed guide on how to do this.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
If all works as intended, our guess is that in the coming months Garmin will gradually transition its entire range of devices to the new format. It will definitely make life easier for those who’d like to test out Beta versions of software.
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