Image source: Garmin

The perils of Beta testing: Garmin Instinct 2 update woes highlight the risks

Garmin has released Beta version 12.13 for its popular Instinct 2 series and the Instinct Crossover. The purpose of this minor update was to improve the watches’ functionality. However, it proved to be a problem, resulting in battery drain and instability issues.

Battery drain, bricked devices…

Interestingly enough, this was a Beta version of the software which means it had already passed the Alpha stage and started rolling out to users who had enrolled in the Beta program. These users automatically received the update over the air, a sign of confidence in the software’s performance from the company.

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Unfortunately, Garmin Instinct 2 users experienced various issues following the update. One user reported, “charged my watch the day before it was updated, only a couple hours later it was dead. Recharged when I got home and by the time I woke up this morning it was dead again.” Another user shared a similar experience, stating, “So the 12.13 made my Instinct 2 Solar very unstable and drained the battery really quick. Froze up from time to time and was generally very buggy. In an attempt to reset/restore it, I think it finally gave up. Stuck on the update boot screen with a progress bar that doesn’t progress at all.”

Garmin issues apology, instructions on how to roll-back software

Garmin has since removed the firmware, halting its rollout in response to user complaints. The company apologised and gave users who had installed the problematic update instructions on how to reset their devices and restore functionality.

Users have two options: reset the watch through the Settings menu or revert to the current public software. Both options will reset your watch to its factory settings. That means you’ll have to take action later to customise everything to your preferences. You’ll also need to unpair the watch from Garmin Connect and your phone’s Bluetooth list, and then reconnect it.

Resetting the watch can be done via Settings > System > ResetDelete Data and Reset Settings. Unfortunately, selecting Reset Default Settings will not resolve the issue. You must choose the Delete Data option.

The other route is to backdate the software on your device. If you prefer this option, you must first download the file from the list below. Save the GUPDATE.GCD file to the Garmin folder on your watch via a PC or Mac computer. You will be prompted to update after unplugging the watch from the computer.

This also answers the question people sometimes have on whether it is possible to install a previous version of Garmin firmware. Yes it is, but you need to have the appropriate zip file. And Garmin typically does not make these readily available.

Installing Alpha and Beta software comes with risks

This incident highlights the dangers of installing Alpha and Beta software versions. Although these updates are intended to identify and resolve issues prior to a full public release, they can occasionally introduce new or exacerbate existing ones. Users who participate in Alpha and Beta testing programmes should be aware of the potential issues that may arise when using these early-stage updates. They may encounter software bugs and other problems that affect the performance of their device or even render it unusable.

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Ivan Jovin

Ivan has been a tech journalist for over 7 years now, covering all kinds of technology issues. He is the guy who gets to dive deep into the latest wearable tech news.

One thought on “The perils of Beta testing: Garmin Instinct 2 update woes highlight the risks

  • I probably want to buy a Garmin Instinct 2 Solar. I don’t want the constant software updates. Will the watch work well without the constant software updates?


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