Image source: Garmin

Garmin expands new Beta Program to select Forerunner watches

About a week ago Garmin introduced a new Beta Program for select devices. Now it has expanded availability to Forerunner 945, 745 and 245 series. The new system allows for automatic updates.

Previously a user would need to go to the Garmin forums and manually download and install Beta software updates. But this has changed and Garmin is currently test running a new way of doing things.

All one needs to do now is go to their web Garmin Connect dashboard, click on their device, settings and enrol in the new Beta. From that point on alll Beta updates will be installed on their watch, via the same route as public versions of the software. Needless to say, this is much easier than manually doing things. De-registering from future Beta updates is done via the same route.

Eligible Garmin devices – availability expanded to Forerunner watches

We reported the other day that those with Garmin Fenix 6, 7, Epix 2 and some other devices are eligible to join the program. There we go into detail on how to enrol. Now availability has been expanded to a few Forerunner watches. Namely the 945, 745 and 245 series.

The company has also changed around some other things.

  • What was previously known as Beta is now known as the Alpha version of the software. For now these types of updates will not come through to your watch directly but you’ll be able to download them as you were able to in the past. In time Garmin says it will expand its new Beta Program to include Alpha versions of the software.
  • What will automatically come through to your watch is what was previously known as a “Release Candidate”. This is the nearly final version of the software which should not have too many bugs and issues. It’s mature and pretty much ready for public release.

The Beta Program is in testing phase currently

All of this is currently experimental. This is why the rollout is in phases.

Also worth a mention is a new forum for reporting bugs. For now access is only restricted to those who are already registered for the Beta Program. Others do not currently have access to these pages which lowers transparency. Some users might, for example, be waiting for certain bugs to be fixed before jumping in the Beta Program. But Garmin says it will make this available in time to everyone.

There is a clear division between owners of Garmin watches. Some are happy with the new system as they say it makes things easier. Others are not happy and would have preferred to retain control around which Beta updates to install.

An issue that is mentioned on the forums is that it is not clear how to revert your software to the previous version if you are not happy with the Beta software. The advantage of having the actual Beta file is that you could reverse to a stable version. If you exit the Beta software via the official route, that version will remain on your device until the release of the public software. So it seems there is no way to roll back the files.

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Also, there are users that are frustrated with barriers preventing them from enrolling in the Program. They typically get the following message.

This device cannot be enrolled in the Garmin Beta software program at this time. It may no longer be receiving Beta software, or the maximum number of enrolled users may have been met.

One of the conditions of the Beta Program is that your Garmin watch is only linked to one account. This is typically the reason device owners are unable to join.

Let’s say you bought a used Garmin watch on eBay. If the previous owner has not delinked the device from their account it holds you hostage. There is no way for you to enrol in the Beta as Garmin will not de-register the previous owner’s account for you. A clear problem for those with second-hand watches.

As this is still a trial, in time the company will certainly iron out all these issues. We also hope that Garmin allows everyone access to the bug and change-log forums. Even if its as read-only to those not actively participating in the Beta Programs.

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Marko Maslakovic

Marko founded Gadgets & Wearables in 2014, having worked for more than 15 years in the City of London’s financial district. Since then, he has led the company’s charge to become a leading information source on health and fitness gadgets and wearables.

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