Image source: Garmin

Latest Beta brings support for SatIQ to Garmin Forerunner 955 & 255

The Garmin Forerunner 955 and 255 watches are getting a feature that will help preserve battery life. SatIQ is currently being rolled out as part of firmware Beta – version 12.20.

To remind, you need to be enrolled in the Beta Program in order to install this update. Instructions on how to do this can be found on this link.

Once registered, the update should arrive to your watch when you sync with Garmin Connect. This is a gradual rollout. Although the Garmin forums say the firmware has started rolling out 5 hours ago, it still hasn’t hit our watch yet.

Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets

The Forerunner 955 has already received one update following its launch. But no new functionality was added as part of firmware that went under the number 11.12. The most interesting thing about that update was that it is the first real one since the watch was released. Sure there was a small refresh when the watch was launched, but that may have come automatically installed when you purchased your device.

Here’s the full change-log of public software version 11.12 that was released back in July.

  • Improvements to touch handling
  • Improvements to data screen drawing
  • Improvements to Audio Dialect selection
  • Addressed issues with Cycling VO2 Max values
  • Addressed issues with After Sunset backlight setting
  • Various other bug fixes and improvements

Public Beta Version 12.20

This new update that goes under the number 12.20 is a Release Candidate. That means that it is in final Beta testing and should be available to everyone via public release in the next few weeks. As long as there are no critical issues, of course. To get an early insight into the new features you can install this Beta.

Here’s the full change log of Beta software version 12.20 for the Forerunner 955 watch:

  • Added support for displaying a power guide for cycling courses.
  • Added support for the Shimano Di2.
  • Added support for SatIQ.
  • Added support for selecting a PacePro plan for a race.
  • Added support for showing an elevation graph for cycling events with a course file.
  • Added support for setting sleep/wake times on device.
  • Added support for displaying step streaks on the weekly steps graph.
  • Made numerous map page improvements.
  • Improved the calculation of the workout execution score to consider skipped steps.
  • Improved daily suggested workout suggestions.
  • Improved the VO2 max. graph to display the last 4 weeks rather than 7 days.

Beyond this, there are numerous bug fixes. The full change-log can be seen on this link.


What is Sat IQ?

Arguably, the biggest upgrade that comes with this update is support for SatIQ. This has also recently been made available on the latest Alpha/Beta software version for the Fenix 7 and Epix 2 watches. Presumably, all Garmin watches with dual-frequency GNSS will ultimately get the feature.

SatIQ is a technology that aims to preserve the battery life on your watch while not compromising GPS accuracy. It does this by figuring out the optimal GPS mode based on your current environment. So instead of keeping your watch on the Multiband GNSS option which is the most precise but also most battery hungry, you can choose AutoSelect in the settings on your device.

The SatIQ feature will then work in the background to automatically switch between the different modes depending on your environment. For example, in more open areas there is no need to keep Multiband GNSS switched on. So this feature will figure out the most power-efficient mode without sacrificing sattelite positioning accuracy. It essentially preserves the accuracy of multi-band frequency technology while maximising battery life. It takes the guess-work out of sattelite settings.

Here are the options:

  • GPS only
  • All systems
  • All + multiband
  • Auto-selection
  • UltraTrac

Choose Auto-selection, and this could make quite a bit of difference to how long your watch can go between charges. For example, the Forerunner 955 keeps going only for around 20 hours with Multiband GNSS switched on. But in normal GPS mode it can keep going for twice that – 42 hours to be precise. Garmin says they’ve tested the SatIQ feature extensively and found that it saves about 15% of battery life on average during an activity.

Those that install the Beta software can try out the functionality. Post installation, the steps to switch AutoSelect positioning are as follows:

  • Long press START/STOP.
  • Select an activity sport profile.
  • Press UP/MENU to access menu.
  • Select the activity settings.
  • Select Satellites.
  • Select AutoSelect.

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