Garmin launched a new public beta program and beta forums earlier today. This allows users of certain devices to automatically receive beta software updates, either through Garmin Connect Mobile or through Garmin Express.
Until now, beta software updates had to be downloaded manually from the Garmin forums. Typically, download links can be found at the top of the relevant device’s forum. You then had to unzip the file and install it manually by plugging your Garmin watch into a USB port on your computer. To do this, save the files to the appropriate folder on the Garmin watch and follow the instructions to complete the installation.
Now those days are over for customers of a few popular Garmin devices. It was much easier for them.
Of course, this involves certain risks. Needless to say, there’s no guarantee that your watch or fitness tracker will work as expected with a beta version of the software. But if you’re an early adopter, adventurer type, or just plain impatient, be aware that the steps for installing beta software updates are a bit different in the future for the Fenix 6, Fenix 7, Epix 2 and a few other devices.
Garmin’s new public beta program and beta forums
With this latest redesign, joining the beta program and installing new versions of the software should be a piece of cake. Interested individuals should sign up to automatically receive these types of software updates. For those who like to live dangerously, Garmin says that over time they will also allow users to sign up for Alpha software updates through the same system!
The whole thing will basically work through the same distribution channel as regular public software updates. This means via Bluetooth receiving information from Garmin Connect Mobile or via Garmin Express on your Mac or PC. The company says it has also restructured its forum pages to make it easier to report bugs in the software.
How to Join or Leave the Garmin Beta Program
To register, you must log in via the web at connect.garmin.com with your password and username. Then click on your watch in the upper right corner and select Device settings. You should see a message saying “Join Beta Software Program“.
The webpage will then ask you to accept the “Terms and conditions” to join the program. A confirmation notification will follow letting you know that you have successfully registered. That’s all we can say about it. All beta updates should automatically arrive on your watch from now on.
Once you sign up, a new link will be added in the settings for users to report bugs and issues. Clicking on it will take you to the appropriate forum page. This is separated into Public Beta and Public Alpha bug reports.
As shown in the screenshot below, leaving the beta program is just as easy. Just click on the link “Exit the Beta Software Program” and follow the instructions.
It should be noted that for now, the new beta program is only available for certain devices. Presumably, this will expand over time. The current list includes:
- Fenix 6
- Fenix 7
- Spike 2
- Quatix 6
For Fenix 7 and Epix 2, the new program starts with Beta 8.18. For Fenix 6 with Beta 21.00. So, if you sign up for automatic updates but have already manually installed those versions, no new software will be installed. Only subsequent software updates will.
For the device to be eligible to join the program, it can only be registered to one Garmin account. Which shouldn’t be a problem like most watches.
For now, non-compatible Garmin watches (which include all Forerunners) will continue to work as they did before. By manually downloading beta updates via the forums. For those interested, we’ve compiled a detailed guide on how to do this.
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If everything works as expected, we believe that in the coming months, Garmin will gradually transition its entire line of devices to the new format. This will certainly make life easier for those who wish to test beta versions of the software.
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