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Garmin updates its Connect online training tool, we take a look at the new features including segments

Garmin have completely redesigned their free Connect online fitness community and training log and added a bunch of new features including segments and improved social media interaction. We’ve been having a nose around at the new website and here’s a quick overview of the new features that Garmin hopes will usurp its rivals.

First up, the Connect homepage has been revamped with a modern tile-based layout that is visually far more appealing. The tiles, or “widgets” as Garmin are calling them, are used to represent important data like your recent activity, a calendar of your workouts, courses, total distance, connections to friends, and the newest features, segments, personal records, workouts and training plans.

These tiles – sorry, widgets – can be moved around, hidden and new ones added, so you can completely customise the layout to suit. An expandable sidebar lets you shortcut straight to any section. It’s all very intuitive and everything you need is clearly presented and easy to find. A small magnifying glass on each widget makes it full screen so you can delve into more detail.

Click into an activity and you go to an page full of detail, presented in the same style as the previous Connect website. It shows a map of your ride and distance, speed, altitude and much more. While it all looks familiar to anyone who has used Connect before, there is the introduction of the new segment feature, which has been the big talking point since Garmin announced the changes to Connect.

Adding segments to Connect is a clear response by Garmin to the popularity that rival training website Strava has achieved with segments. These are sections of a ride, such as a climb, that are given a leaderboard so you can see how you compare to other people cycling over the same segment.

Creating a segment in Connect is easy. Simply drag the start and end markers to where you want on the road, give it a name and you’re done. Click 'save' and you’re shown a leader board for that segment, with dropdown filter lists for different categories.

Garmin have also added the ability to specify the segment type (hill climb, sprint, downhill, hills) and surface type (paved, gravel, dirt, mixed). One feature they’ve also added that will be well received is the inclusion of wind direction and speed data, so you can tell if someone had a headwind or tailwind when they hit the top of the leaderboard. That’ll cancel out a few excuses…

How does Garmin Connect know this? It comes from a subsidiary of Garmin's called Digital Cyclone. Garmin originally bought Digital Cyclone for aviation and marine applications but they are now using the service across other products.

As well as introducing segments to common cycling lexicon, Strava also popularised the social network aspect, being able to follow friends and so be able to see how much riding they’re getting up to. Garmin hope to tap into this success and have added Connections so you can 'connect' with friends on Connect. Being able to comment on rides and events and offer ‘kudos’ – virtual high-fives – has also been a resounding success for Strava, Connect aims to replicate this interaction with a like button and comment functionality.

If you're not already using it, Garmin have a desktop app called Garmin Express which is a replacement for WebUpdater. Once downloaded and installed, it pops up a window on your desktop when you plug your Garmin into the computer and allows you to upload your latest activities to Connect, and make sure your Garmin unit is up to date.

It’s still early days for the new Connect but first impressions are good. It’s really simple to use, neatly and intuitively laid out and with lots of new features bolstering the high level of detail it already provided, making it easy to track and monitor your training. It’s clear it’s still being developed because at the time of writing there are some interesting features that aren’t currently available. Groups is one that will be useful for clubs, local riding groups and friends.

We keep comparing Connect to Strava because they are both seeking to attract the same users (there are, of course, many other training tools out there also vying for attention: MapMyRide, Endomondo etc). It's been a long overdue update but the new version of Connect is impressive. But will it be enough?

Garmin have developed the new Edge 1000 in tandem with the upgrade Connect, so you can do things like download segments to the computer and get live progress updates when you’re out riding. Directly tying in Connect features with the new Edge 1000 is a step in a new direction for Garmin and it will be interesting to see how it actually works. An Edge 1000 has arrived for review so we’ll put this to the test.

Have a look for yourself at http://connect.garmin.com/

 

David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.

47 comments

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scrapper [71 posts] 1 year ago
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Garmin Connect looks like it should deliver lots, but in practice its a nightmare...clunky, extremely slow and prone to glitches...im currently stuffed trying to edit a course that's saved under our clubs "group"...at the moment it just wont work at all...a few weeks ago, it wouldn't save a course to a Garmin unit..

Additionally, it always seems a dark art and a near impossible task in trying to upload a gpx file from someone else and turn it into a course...surely this ought to be a fundamental function of these pieces of software

Garmin should have a fantastic tool at their disposal, but currently its nothing but a pig....hopefully continued development will iron out the Everest sized creases...

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RichK [31 posts] 1 year ago
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still shows the old layout when I log in  22

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dave atkinson [6147 posts] 1 year ago
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RichK wrote:

still shows the old layout when I log in  22

hit 'switch to modern', top right

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wellcoordinated [201 posts] 1 year ago
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Yep still see the old website here! And I don't have a switch to modern option  2

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RichK [31 posts] 1 year ago
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OK, not just me then  40

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Scoob_84 [372 posts] 1 year ago
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what's the point of Garmin connect when you have Strava?

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Velo_Alex [72 posts] 1 year ago
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I'm calling it StraMin.

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hennahairgel [42 posts] 1 year ago
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In the past few days they've added the weight widget, but then they've removed ANT+ weight scale support from their recent products, and it simply errors on uploading the weight (and %fat etc.) from my FR210.

I've been using it for the last two months, and the 'work-in-progress' is everywhere. It's nowhere near sorted and huge glaring errors just are not fixed.

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andycoventry [110 posts] 1 year ago
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To me it seems a little late to the party with regard to segments, Strava has too much of a hold on this.

To use it you need a garmin, and whilst they are popular its still exclusive, and hence uptake will be lower than strava, so the 'competition' on segments will also be lower.

If you have a garmin you will upload to both but the amount of data available through Strava and Veloviewer already makes this out of date.

It doesnt do anything Strava hasn't done for years so needs something far more innovative to draw people away although I have no idea what that could be.

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kegere [5 posts] 1 year ago
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wellcoordinated wrote:

Yep still see the old website here! And I don't have a switch to modern option  2

Lucky you!

The most noticeable difference is how much slower the new site is. This isn't the time taken to find a link (that will improve with practice) but the time after clicking before the new page actually loads and becomes useful.

Fortunately there is the option of temporarily switching back to the old site, which I did after giving it a fair appraisal (~1 week). After this article I've tried it once more, again unimpressed, switched back to 'traditional'

Fortunately I have all my .fit files, but would lose my comments, if this doesn't significantly improve before 'traditional' is closed I'll have to look at other sites. Before reading this I happened to load a ride onto Strava this morning, the first time since last Summer - this might become more common...

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dreamlx10 [144 posts] 1 year ago
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Scoob_84 wrote:

what's the point of Garmin connect when you have Strava?

What's the point of Capitalism ?

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Nick T [913 posts] 1 year ago
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Good work at the LBL on screen grab 1 there.

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Jimbonic [135 posts] 1 year ago
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It's slightly off topic, but does anyone know why I "use" about twice as many calories on any given cycle according to Garmin than according to Strava?

I haven't tried the new site yet. Though this does (maybe!) explain why the server was continuously unavailable on Friday and Saturday!

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thereverent [390 posts] 1 year ago
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I switched over to the new look and found it slow and clunky.

It looks like it will have some good features, but seems to have been released before all testing and bug fixing was completed.

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Tomsk [3 posts] 1 year ago
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@Jimbonic: the calorie count is off because both sites are guessing, and use different algorithms to make those guesses.

This new Garmin is so awful I've stopped using it. It's slow, buggy and I don't give a shit about any of the panels except 'activities', which doesn't actually display any of my activites. It doesn't even manage the updates for my Edge properly. Great job Garmin!

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wellcoordinated [201 posts] 1 year ago
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andycoventry wrote:

To me it seems a little late to the party with regard to segments, Strava has too much of a hold on this.

To use it you need a garmin, and whilst they are popular its still exclusive, and hence uptake will be lower than strava, so the 'competition' on segments will also be lower.

If you have a garmin you will upload to both but the amount of data available through Strava and Veloviewer already makes this out of date.

It doesnt do anything Strava hasn't done for years so needs something far more innovative to draw people away although I have no idea what that could be.

You may be right, but don't forget that Garmin will show you where a segment is on their device when out riding on the bike (I don't use a Strava app does this do this). Admittedly only on a Edge1000 at the moment. If Garmin release firmware updates so that it appears on 800, 810 etc then it will probably gain some traction.

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STATO [477 posts] 1 year ago
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No new view here either, must be on a slow roll out if some of you have had it for over a week.

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pwake [374 posts] 1 year ago
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Tomsk wrote:

@Jimbonic: the calorie count is off because both sites are guessing, and use different algorithms to make those guesses.

This new Garmin is so awful I've stopped using it. It's slow, buggy and I don't give a shit about any of the panels except 'activities', which doesn't actually display any of my activites. It doesn't even manage the updates for my Edge properly. Great job Garmin!

Spot on, on the calorie count. I have the opposite issue; Strava states about twice as many calories as Garmin Connect. I think it's because I setup as a 'lifetime athlete' on my Edge.

As for Connect, it's just typical Garmin. They don't have enough competition to drive real improvements in both software and hardware. I can't believe that Shimano will stay out of their market for much longer and then they will be toast, in much the same way that the Shimano camera could well be GoPro's nemesis for cycling applications.

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joemmo [1146 posts] 1 year ago
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Argh... it's been completely metro-ified and non-intuitivised, though to be honest I didn't use it much in the first place.

I think they are way too late to game to try with segments although the local search shows zero so I may set some just to be lone KOGM for a short while.

Maybe they should just concentrate on the hardware and do more 'partnering' with services like Strava.

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pmr [196 posts] 1 year ago
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Keep seeing this, infact I saw it several months ago, possibly last year.

STILL NOT LIVE.
Please stop writing about this until its actually live or at least they've given a friggin date for everyone.
Its wasting my time.

 102

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legendary27 [11 posts] 1 year ago
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Given Garmin's complete lack of interest in resolving issues with the Edge 500 software, I shall not be holding my breath for improvements on Connect. As such, I will continue to use Strava.

A (very) small instance of Garmin reaping what they sow.

Regards,
Gordon

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Hamster [94 posts] 1 year ago
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If you're using an older Garmin 305, 205 (705?) the whizzy new Garmin Express won't work and you have to switch back to old school Connect using the Communicator plugin. Looks like they're doing an Apple.

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SamShaw [264 posts] 1 year ago
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The new look Garmin Connect has finally pushed me to sign up to Strava.  2

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redmeat [148 posts] 1 year ago
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I like it.

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Paul J [839 posts] 1 year ago
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Another annoyance with Garmin's segments - you can only set end/start points on your recorded GPS points - which could be tens of metres apart. So if you want have a segment start or end at some recognisable point on the road - tough luck pretty much all the time.

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David Arthur @d... [652 posts] 1 year ago
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I've just been chatting to Garmin about some of the issues raised in the comments, here's what they told me:

1. It is a phased roll out of the new site, currently adding around 200 – 300k users per week, but this will grow quickly and our current goal is to have everyone transferred over in 6 – 8 weeks.

2. Segment leaderboards will be backdated 12 months from the creation of the segment. Populating the leaderboards is taking some time at the moment due to the sheer volume of activities to sift through (we get between 300k – 500k uploads per day depending on the season.) The other factor that is slowing down the leaderboard population besides the number of activities we have to sift through is the sheer rate at which segments are being created.

Both of these are ‘temporary / start-up’ issues that will disappear over the coming weeks.

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David Arthur @d... [652 posts] 1 year ago
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legendary27 wrote:

Given Garmin's complete lack of interest in resolving issues with the Edge 500 software, I shall not be holding my breath for improvements on Connect. As such, I will continue to use Strava.

A (very) small instance of Garmin reaping what they sow.

Regards,
Gordon

What issues are they then? I've not had any problems with the 500 I'm still using, and have been since launch

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sean1 [175 posts] 1 year ago
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Garmin should buy Strava before Nike or Facebook does.

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Yennings [237 posts] 1 year ago
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Garmin is a dead company walking. As soon as Apple/Google sort their battery life out, that is Garmin's only current USP gone. Lack of other decent competitors also makes them lazy in terms of customer service, usability etc.

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durrin [27 posts] 1 year ago
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while Garmins cycling GPS hardware seems to be head and shoulders above all others, you definitely get the feeling that their developers are either absolutely terrible, or just don't care.

if I had to guess, I would say that Garmin has outsourced their development to a company that only cares about fulfilling a contract, instead of caring about the actual finished product. this is reflected in the extraordinarily poor execution of their firmware for various of their devices, and especially this "modern" Carmin Connect, which is just riddled with problems.

Costrast this with Endomondo or Strava, where (my understanding is that) the people who starting programming the sites actually own them, and care about the finished product.

I would also hazard a guess that Strava and Endomondo programmers use their own sites, but not many Garmin developers use GC or the various Garmin sports devices.

just speculating...

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