Garmin Fenix 3 v6.50 – New Features for Free
I know it’s only a watch, but I love my Garmin Fenix 3, and even more so now that I have a Fenix 3 v6.50 . It looks good, it does pretty much everything I want it to, it has more features than you can shake a stick at and I still can’t quite get over how much they can fit into such a small package. And if that wasn’t enough, the regular updates to the firmware from Garmin means that you get new things to play with all the time… The latest update means a whole lot more ‘stick shaking’ as the feature set just keeps growing and growing.
Garmin Fenix 3 v6.50 New Features
Here’s the (not insignificant) list of new features that us Garmin Fenix 3 v6.50 owners have just been treated to thanks to the latest firmware update, version 6.50.
- Added support for Row App. New features include 500m pace, stroke rate, stroke count, distance per stroke, upgrades to virtual partner, stroke rate alerts, and ‘every beat’ metronome option. Garmin Connect support coming soon!
- Added support for Row Indoor App. New features include stroke rate, stroke count, stroke rate alerts, and ‘every beat’ metronome option. Garmin Connect support coming soon!
- Added support for Standup Paddleboarding (SUP) App. New features include stroke rate, stroke count, distance per stroke, upgrades to virtual partner, stroke rate alerts, and ‘every beat’ metronome option. Garmin Connect support coming soon!
- Added support for Golf App. New features include download of courses through Garmin Connect Mobile, distance to front/middle/back of green, layup distances, measure shot, in-round scorecard, odometer/round timer, and scorecard uploads to Garmin Connect.
- Added support for Project Waypoint App (Settings > Apps > Project Wpt).
- Added support for Tactical App (Settings > Apps > Add New).
- Added support for Jumpmaster App (Settings > Apps > Add New).
- Added support for the Advanced Running Dynamics metric: Ground Contact Time Balance. This feature measures your running symmetry and appears as a percentage of your total ground contact time. While developing and testing running dynamics, the Garmin team found correlations between injuries and greater imbalances with certain runners. For many runners, ground contact time balance tends to deviate further from 50-50 when running up or down hills. Most running coaches agree that a symmetrical running form is good. Elite runners tend to have quick and balanced strides. You can watch the color gauge or data field during your run or view the summary on your Garmin Connect account after your run. (Requires HRM-Run v. 6.60, HRM-Tri v. 4.20)
- Added support for the Advanced Running Dynamics metric: Stride Length. This feature measures the length of your stride from one footfall to the next. It is measured in meters. (Requires HRM-Run v. 6.60, HRM-Tri v. 4.20)
- Added support for the Advanced Running Dynamics metric: Vertical Ratio. This feature provides the cost-benefit ratio of vertical oscillation to stride length, serving as one indicator of a runner’s efficiency. (Requires HRM-Run v. 6.60, HRM-Tri v. 4.20)
- Added support for the Lactate Threshold feature (Main Menu > My Stats > Lactate Threshold). This estimates the level of effort at which fatigue rapidly increases in terms of a runner’s heart rate and pace. This includes the lactate threshold guided test, which is a structured activity that will output the user’s lactate threshold heart rate (LTHR) and threshold pace (T-Pace). Other features include LTHR autodetect and HR zones based on %LTHR. The guided test and autodetect require a physical HR strap and can only be calculated by running outdoors. A typical LTHR value is 90% of Max HR. Unlike VO2 max, which can be calculated from HR and pace data at a variety of speeds, autodetect and the guided test requires some time during the activity where the user’s HR is around their LTHR.
- Added support for the Performance Condition feature. This provides a real-time fitness-level measurement relative to a runner’s average baseline, which indicates performance readiness for the day’s workout or race. This feature has two parts: a popup that occurs between 6 and 20 minutes into your outdoor running or cycling activity, and a data field that displays the same information. This feature uses heart rate, heart rate variability, and pace to tell the user how well they are performing. The performance condition popup replaces the Recovery Check feature, but Recovery Time is not affected. Performance condition requires a physical HR strap.
- Added support for the Stress Score app. This uses heart rate variability to assess the user’s overall physiological stress. This feature requires a physical HR strap. Devices upgrading from software versions 5.10 or earlier should see this listed in the app list if a HRM has been previously paired. Otherwise, this app can be enabled through the main menu by going to Settings > Apps > Stress Score. It is important to carefully read the instructions presented on the watch before beginning the test for best results.
- Added ABC widget which combines Altimeter, Barometer and Compass data (Settings > Widgets). Note: press START to view altimeter/barometer plots and compass view.
- Added Steps widget (Settings > Widgets). Note: Steps replaces the previous Wellness widget.
- Added My Day widget (Settings > Widgets).
- Added Golf widget (Settings > Widgets).
- Added Last Run widget (Settings > Widgets). Note: press START to view history.
- Added Last Ride widget (Settings > Widgets). Note: press START to view history.
- Added Last Swim widget (Settings > Widgets). Note: press START to view history.
- Added Last Sport widget (Settings > Widgets). Note: press START to view history.
- Added Calories widget (Settings > Widgets).
- Added Do Not Disturb feature (press & hold LIGHT).
- Added support for a new HR gauge data screen (Settings > Apps > Activity > Data Screens > HR Gauge).
- Added support for audio lap alerts in Garmin Connect Mobile. (GCM > Garmin Devices > Fenix 3 > Audio Alerts > Lap Alerts)
- Added support for viewing GPS state before starting a workout.
- Added support for a new ‘MOB’ (Man Overboard) hot key option. (Settings > System > Hot Keys)
- Added support for a new ‘Dual Grid’ hot key option. (Settings > System > Hot Keys)
- Added new Digital watch face Layout option (showing step goal progress and move bar)
- Added new Digital watch face Seconds Style (Requires Display software v. 3.00)
- Added new Hands and Background analog watch face options (Requires Display software v. 3.00).
OK, so as with all updates there might be lots of things in there that I’ll never use, but that just about sums up the Fenix 3 anyway. It’s a top of the line, flagship device that does pretty much everything you could ask of it. I don’t play golf or skydive so the golfing additions and the ‘Jumpmaster’ app will be of little use to me, but they’ll be gold to those people who do throw themselves out of aircraft or hit little white balls into holes.
For me, the initial highlights will be:
- The addition of a SUP activity app complete with stroke rate metrics and a metronome – I might have to start some proper SUP training sessions rather than just pootling about on the water.
The improvements to the Advanced Run Dynamics features, especially the feature that measures your running symmetry. I’ve already done a run with the new software installed, but as I had a footpod on my shoe that was paired to my Fenix 3, run dynamics seemed to be coming from that rather than from the HRM-Run strap that I was wearing. Although, now that I think about it maybe that wasn’t the case as it has measured Vertical Oscillation and Ground Contact Time – maybe my HRM-Run strap hasn’t been updated yet – I’ll have to check that.
- The new Lactate Threshold features sound promising. It’ll be interesting to do a guided Lactate Threshold Test even if I won’t actually do much with the results.
- The Performance Condition feature sounds nice as well. Although in the past the recovery indicator that this replaces only ever showed that my recovery was either ‘good’ or ‘fair’ so I’m not sure how useful such things actually are. Even if it said that my recovery was bad, would I actually take any notice of it? In theory I should adjust my training objectives for a session based on the recovery advisor or new Performance Condition status, but in reality that’s not likely to happen. If I’ve already started a hard VO2 max session and the Performance Condition feature tells me that I’m not recovered enough am I really going to do a nice easy recovery session instead? So, once again a nice interesting metric to look at but just how much practical use it’ll have remains to be seen
The same can be said of the Stress Score app. Heart Rate Variability was one of the things I wanted to measure and take more notice of, but putting on a HRM strap first thing in the morning and sitting quietly for a few minutes to test it is just too much of a hassle for me (or more accurately feels like a waste of time). Maybe the new Fenix 3 HR hardware with it’s built in optical heart rate monitor will make this easier but I don’t have one of those and donning a HRM strap is a step too far for me. That said, I have tried it already and it works nicely. I did previously have a HRV app installed from the Connect IQ App Store but didn’t use it much because of the need to put on a HRM strap, manually run the app and sit there quietly will it ran. I can’t therefore see that the built in Garmin Stress Score app will be any different. The Stress Score App also gives you a rating based on a proprietary Garmin algorithm to show your stress score. For those data-hounds amongst us an actual HRV score that could be compared to standard HRV scales might be more useful if not quite as user friendly.
- The ABC widget or combined Altimeter, Barometer and Compass is nice – much better to have it all on one screen rather than as 3 separate widgets, so the old individual widgets have been removed for me and replaced by the ABC widget.
- New Widgets – Mind you, the other new widgets are quite interesting to me too so although I may have replaced the altimeter, compass and barometer widget with a single ABC widget I’ll probably end up adding the ‘My Day’ widget and the last swim, last bike, last run and last sport widgets and will replace the old wellness widget with the steps widget too.
- The Do Not Disturb feature could be good but having to manually activate it means that I won’t really use it. If we could set it to be automatically in ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode during certain hours each day then it might be of more use, but I think it might already do that based on when it detects that you’re asleep so on second thoughts maybe I will use it to silence the Fenix 3 should the need arise.
There are plenty of other new features that are nice to have even if I won’t use them. The additional watch face options are nice but I use a custom wacth face called Actigraph so won’t make much use of these. The HR Gauge data screen looks nice as well, but takes up too much screen real estate for me. The MOB (Man Over Board) hotkey may prove useful – hopefully not a for a real Man Over Board situation, but just as a way to mark locations when needed.
All in all it looks like an amazing update to my Garmin Fenix 3 and it’s all free. You can’t go wrong with that – unless of course it breaks some core functionality that was already there, but so far so good it seems.
I guess now with all these new features and settings I’ll have to update my Garmin Fenix 3 Set Up post to reflect the new additions.
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