Garmin Connect IQ Store app: Taking a look around the new storefront

Checking out Garmin's dedicated place for sports and smartwatch extras
Garmin Connect IQ Store app: What's new
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Garmin has been making bigger moves into the smartwatch space for some time, but one of the most notable things missing from that smarter play has been a proper app store.

While the Connect IQ Store has existed for a few years now, the way it was built into the Connect IQ companion app didn't make it the most user-friendly way to find new apps, watch faces, widgets or custom data fields for your Garmin.

Essential reading: Best Connect IQ apps to download first

So it's finally decided to break the IQ Store out from the Connect IQ app and, in the process, given the place a bit of a clean up. The Connect IQ Store is now available in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store, so we've been checking it out to see what's different and how it compares to the old version.

Logging in is gone

if you used the Connect IQ Store before the revamp, you'll know how much of a pain it was to continually log in to the store if you wanted to get your hands on something new. Thankfully, that continual logging in process is no more.

As long as your Garmin device is paired to your phone and Connect already, you should see your device appear up in the top right hand corner with a green light to indicate that you're already logged in. It's a small thing, but it definitely makes the experience of using the store and getting things onto your device swiftly much easier.

Manage device

Garmin Connect IQ Store app: Taking a look around the new storefront

From that device icon mentioned above, you now get a much better breakdown of what you have installed on your device, whether that's watch faces, apps, data fields or widgets. What we really like is that you can now see how much space you have for additional downloads at a quick glance.

This is also where you can adjust settings (if there are any available) for each downloaded app/watch face/data field/widget, or simply uninstall them. So, for instance, for the Stryd IQ app, we can quickly edit power zones, which will then sync and save to the device.

It's also here where you can check whether you have the latest version of those apps running on your watch, and toggle on/off auto updates. There is also the option to receive notifications when there are available updates for those installed apps.

Get downloading

Garmin Connect IQ Store app: Taking a look around the new storefront

The first thing to notice here is that there is a much nicer breakdown of the type of content available on the Store. So, along with the usuals, like digital and analogue watch faces or adding performance metrics, there are now also sections for things like power tools, wellness apps and apps that are designed for sea-related activities.

Read this: Latest Garmin reviews, news and features

When you find something you want, and you tap to select it, the experience feels very similar to what you'd get doing something similar on the Google Play Store. You'll see a description of the app, user reviews and crucially a list of compatible devices to make sure you can actually use it.

The downloading part has always been one of the clumsier aspects of the Connect IQ Store process, and while it's still not perfect, it's definitely better. Once you hit download, there's a bit of lag time before the installation process begins. Then the app gets queued, even if you don't have bunch of apps lined up for installation. Like any app store, app download installation times will vary, but it usually took no more than a couple of minutes for us. When you go back to that My device page, you should see your new app ready to use.

Face It

Garmin Connect IQ Store app: Taking a look around the new storefront

Garmin introduced its Face It app back in 2016, letting watch owners build their own watch faces. There's no need to dip into the separate app for this, so you can get creative directly from the new store. Simply look for the dropdown menu (in the top right corner) and Face It should be the first option. That dropdown also offers shortcuts to the different types of content you can download, if you don't want to scroll through the various sections.

Garmin Connect IQ store app: Taking a look around the new app store

Once you've given permission for Garmin to access your photo library, you'll be able to pull in pictures and turn them into a watch face. It's a bit of a laggy process at the moment, but once you've found a picture from your library or you want to take one, you can overlay a digital or analogue watch face over it, change the colours of the watch elements and then hit save to keep it and send it to your device. The watch face will be sent to a Garmin server to be created and will then install next time you sync your device.

Big improvements

The Connect IQ Store has been long overdue more than just a facelift, and with the new dedicated store it comes more in line with what is on offer to Apple, Samsung, Fitbit and Google WearOS smartwatch owners.

It's much easier to navigate and things have improved greatly when it comes to downloading, syncing and installing apps and other extras to your device. Loading screens still feels a little on the slow side, but it's nowhere near as laggy as it was in its previous incarnation. It might not be as slick as the Apple App Store or Google Play, but it's certainly a much better fit for Garmin's smartwatch ambitions.

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