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

Garmin Fenix 3 V6.50

Garmin Fenix 3 V6.50

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.

Personal Highlights

For me, the initial highlights will be:

  1. 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.
  2. Run Dynamics

    Run Dynamics

    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.

  3. 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.
  4. 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
  5. Stess Score

    Stress Score

    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.

  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

21 Responses

  1. Alan Cole says:

    Just a quick note… I had another update available on my watch this morning for HRM-Run v6.6 so hopefully on my next run the Advanced Running Dynamics upgrades such as the Run Balance feature should be working as well.

    Al.

  2. Alan Cole says:

    Did the Stress test again this morning as well, and on the scale up to 100 as the most stressed my stress level was apparently 1…. I’m sure that can’t be right! Good if it is though.. Happy Days! :).

    Al.

  3. Edward says:

    Hi Alan do you know where I can find GCT balance reported in Garmin Connect?

    Thanks,

    Ed

    • Alan Cole says:

      Hi Ed,
      When viewing the detailed report of a run activity below the map you should have charts for elevation, heart rate, pace and the various run dynamics. One of these is GCT. Next to the title of this chart is a small disclosure triangle and a question mark. If you click on the disclosure triangle you can change the chart from GCT to GCT Balance.

      Hope that helps as I’m replying from memory on my phone so if you still can’t find it let me know and I’ll respond more fully.

      Also, have you read my recent post all about Garmin Advanced Run Dynamics:

      Al

  4. heather says:

    auto DND coming it looks like! —->Changes made from version 6.52 to 6.55:
    Added support for ‘Auto Do Not Disturb’. (Power Menu > Do Not Disturb > Sleep Time) Sleep and wake up times can be setup through Garmin Connect Mobile.
    It appears to be beta still, but guess we should have an update soon.

    https://www8.garmin.com/support/download_details.jsp?id=9504

  5. Brian says:

    Alan. great post. Thanks. a question. My move alerts have stopped since upgrading… Do you know how to re activate.
    Thanks
    Brian

    • Alan Cole says:

      Not sure why they would stop, but try rebooting the watch as a first step, and then going to Settings > Activity Tracking > Move Alert and turn it on.

      If it was already on then toggling it off/on followed by a reboot might get things going again.

      Let me know if that helps.
      Al.

  6. Gary says:

    Hi Alan,

    Hi Allan,

    Great post! I just got my Fenix 3 yesterday and went my first run this morning. It recorded the normal running dynamics but not the advanced dynamics. I do have it enabled on the watch so unsure why this is happening. Did you get yours working?

    Thanks

    Gary

    • Alan Cole says:

      Hi Gary,
      I’m sure you won’t be disappointed with your Fenix 3 – I’m still loving mine.

      As far as Advance Run Dynamics goes, then I’m sure it is recording it, I’m just not sure what you mean when you say you get ‘normal’ run dynamics. I can only think that you mean you can see the data for ‘Run Cadence’, ‘Vertical Oscillation’ and ‘Ground Contact Time’, but not ‘Ground Contact Time Balance’ and ‘Vertical Ratio’.. Is that what you mean?

      if so, then it’s there, you just need to click on the little disclosure triangles next to the words ‘Vertical Oscillation’ and ‘Ground Contact Time’ to get menus to change those graphs to ‘Vertical Ratio’ and ‘Ground Contact Time Balance’ respectively.

      Does that help?
      Al.

      • Gary says:

        Yes that was what I meant with the dynamics. I have found out where I have went wrong tho. Although I had updated the watch, I hadn’t linked it to the hrm to update it. I have just done this so hopefully will be good on my next run. Thanks for the reply.

        Gary

  7. Karl says:

    Can you find the sup app for distance per stroke in the IQ app store?
    Have been searching for it but no luck so far.

    • Alan Cole says:

      You don’t need an app from the IQ store as it’s now a built in Activity Profile. If you have upgraded to version 6.5 or higher you should have the following the as part of the update:

      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!

      Hope that helps.
      Al.

      • Karl says:

        Thank you for that!
        I actually don’t have the watch but will buy it soon.
        I do a lot of long distance SUP so this will help my training a lot.
        So can you put heart rate, elapsed time, speed and distance per stroke in one screen?

        • Alan Cole says:

          Yep… Take a look at my Garmin Fenix 3 Set Up post to get an idea of the things you can have on each screen. Essentially you can have up to four data fields per screen and several different screens for each activity. Each activity type can have it’s own custom set up so that you can see whatever data is most important to you for any given activity.

          Al.

  8. Jake says:

    I get all the data except VO2 Max. I use a Fenix 3 HR and also a HRM-4 Tri, and Shoe Pod. I can’t get any data at all whatsoever for VO2 Max, whether it’s for running or biking. I’ve done short runs and long runs, recorded using the running App. After a month still no data.

    • Alan Cole says:

      It does sometimes take a while to show up and AFAIK you have to do a few longer, fairly high intensity runs. They have to be ‘free’ workouts in the run app as well, (not following a prescribed workout). The other really important thing to check is that you have your Max Heart rate setting set correctly.

      You also need to be using a HRM-Run strap (I’m not sure if the HRM-Tri is the same) – Does it do Advanced Running Dynamics such as Ground Contact Time Balance and Vertical Ratio?

      The other thing to note is that VO2max calculations aren’t shown necessarily after every run, they are only shown if the calculation changes. You can however see the current calculation if you go to the achievements screen after saving a workout but before pressing ‘done’.

      Al.

  1. Thursday, January 14th, 2016

    […] latest Fenix 3 v6.50 firmware introduced a slew of new Run Dynamics features giving me yet more run data to analyse. The updates […]

  2. Saturday, January 16th, 2016

    […] do so [Edit: Windsurfing has now been added and is included in the lists.] [The new apps from the Fenix 3 v6.50 firmware update have also been […]

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Alan Cole

Alan is a Freelance Website Designer, Sports & Exercise Science Lab Technician and full time Dad & husband with far too many hobbies: Triathlete, Swimming, Cycling, Running, MTBing, Surfing, Windsurfing, SUPing, Gardening, Photography.... The list goes on.

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