Garmin has opened up today its Beta Program to Forerunner 255 and 955 watches. Here’s how to sign up, get updates and report bugs.
The 255 and 955 have received one firmware update so far that goes under the number 11.12. But it is entirely to do with improvements to existing functions and bug fixes. So that version did not go through Alpha and Beta stages as there was no new functionality that needed testing out.
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If you check the Garmin Beta forum today, you’ll notice that the Forerunner 255 and 955 watches have been added to the list of devices. This could be an indicator of an Alpha version of their software that is about to land. We’re not sure what new functionality this will bring, but our hope is that SatIQ will be top of the list.
The feature is already being tested out on Fenix 7 and Epix 2 watches. It adds the ability for auto-selecting the GPS mode. The idea is to preserve battery life on your watch by switching to lower power-consuming satellite modes when doing so will not compromise GPS accuracy. This is particularly useful for watches that have Multiband GNSS as this mode tends to eat up the battery quite a bit.
How to sign up to be a Alpha, Beta tester
The procedure to sign up for the Beta Program is no different for the Forerunner 255 and 955 as compared to other Garmin watches. This new way of doing things was introduced back in May. Whereas before you had to download and install Beta software versions manually, this is now done automatically via Garmin Connect.
So how do you sign up?
It is actually quite simple. Here are the steps.
- Open up the web dashboard of your Garmin Connect account.
- Click on the picture of the watch in the top right corner. This takes you to Device & Sync Status.
- Choose your device (Forerunner 255 or 955).
- You’ll see a link there that says Join Beta Software Program. Click on it.
- Agree to the Software Licence Agreement on the next page.
- You should see an orange Beta Enrolled banner on the next page.
Now you are in. From this point on whenever there’s a Beta firmware, it will come automatically through to your watch. No need for you to do anything except sync your watch with the Garmin Connect smartphone app.
You can report bugs and issues on the forums and there’s a link in your Device & Sync Status page that takes you directly to this web page. Leaving the Beta program is also done via this procedure.
Installing Beta and Alpha software is risky
As you probably already know, a Beta version of any software carries with it certain risks. This is firmware in testing so there are no guarantees it will be bug free after installation.
It is worth pointing out, though, Garmin has changed things around somewhat. What was previously Beta is now dubbed Alpha. These software versions will not automatically come through to your watch. If you want to install an Alpha, you’ll need to use the old way of doing things. Which is to locate the firmware file on Garmin forums, download and install it manually.
The software which will automatically come to your watch when you register for the Beta Program is in the final, pre-release stage. Which means it has already been Alpha tested so hopefully most of the issues and bugs are squashed. So the risks of installing it are lower than with Alpha software.
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