If you're the owner of a new Garmin watch, whether that's the Forerunner 935 or the Fenix 5 there are now some top apps and watch faces to download from Garmin Connect IQ – the company's own app store.
Garmin opened up its platform allowing clever developers outside of Garmin HQ to use their brains and coding skills to create apps, widgets and watch extensions. It means new sports and niche add-ons can be added into the mix to make the watch feel like a personal companion. The company is also adding new features to its watches including the ability to control smart home tech from your wrist.
Now check this out: How to run better with Garmin Connect
If you are wondering how Connect IQ works, read on for everything you need to plus we pick the best apps to try out.
Which Garmin watches use Connect IQ?
Let's start with the devices you can actually use with Garmin Connect IQ, which includes sports watches, smartwatches and bike computers. There are now more than 20 devices that are Connect IQ ready.
The Connect IQ compatible list includes: Fenix 5, Fenix 5S, Fenix 5X, Fenix 3, Fenix 3HR, Fenix Chronos, Forerunner 230, 235, 630, 935, 735XT and 920XT; Vivoactive, Vivoactive HR and Vivoactive 3; Edge 520, 820, 1000; D2 Bravo, Quatix 5, Epix and Oregon. It's the higher end section of devices, but the ability to access Connect IQ is growing across Garmin's range.
If you do own one of the supported devices, what's intriguing is the idea that the watch you bought to train for that marathon or triathlon can now morph into a device that does a whole lot more, such as track your golf score, give you the weather and even let you monitor your stocks and shares.
On the one hand it's an exciting concept, that your Garmin device becomes more powerful than the day you bought it, with the potential to evolve alongside your interests. On the other, there's a big question mark over whether you'll want your running watch to tell you when your investment portfolio is taking a hammering.
Then there's the slightly odd fact that some of the apps simply offer things like a stopwatch function. Something you'd expect to find already on a top level Garmin device. At best then, Connect IQ feels like a mixed bag.
What can you download?
All of the apps on Garmin Connect IQ are free. Around 100 of those apps have been made by Garmin themselves. The rest are from third party developers and other Garmin users.
The different downloads split into four types. Here's what each option does.
Apps in Garmin Connect IQ world are downloaded and stored on your watch pretty much in the same way as you would an app for your phone. You can download as many apps as your device will store but you can only run one at time. You access apps on your Garmin as you would do the main sports. All the new third party apps you've downloaded will sit in the main list of native sport options such as running, cycling, swimming or indoor running.
Widgets appear on the watch face when you're in power save mode and they work by piggy backing your connected smartphone's data to display information from other services you might be using. Among the widgets currently available for download there are third party offerings from Red Bull News, AccuWeather allergen monitor as well as things like multi time zone display, step counter, sleep history and even snake. Yes, snake is back.
If you're familiar with Garmin you'll know what we mean by data fields. If not these are basically the customisable sections you can display on the face of your Garmin. Whereas before you could only display the fields Garmin pre-selected, with Connect IQ you'll be able to add more options and tweak your device with a wider variety of stats.
Finally you can choose from a range of third party watch face designs and layouts. These cover everything from turning your Garmin Forerunner 235 screen into an old school big hand little hand display to putting a skull and cross bones jolly roger on your Vivoactive 3. Many of the watch faces have been designed to work across different devices too so upgrading your watch doesn't mean sacrificing your beloved custom screens.
How to download from Garmin Connect IQ
You'll need a Garmin Connect account and then there are two ways to access IQ apps.
You can download apps via the Garmin Connect Mobile app and then sync them wirelessly via Bluetooth to you compatible Garmin watch.
Alternatively you'll need access to a laptop with Garmin Express installed and your Garmin device to be fully up to date so that's it compatible with IQ. Once that's sorted the download process is fairly simple.
If you fire up Garmin Express you'll see some menus for Watch Faces, Apps, Data Fields and Widgets. Hitting the Manage button takes you to another page where you can see what's already installed, how much space you've got left on the device and manage all of you downloads onto and off the watch.
You can also navigate to the Garmin Connect IQ store from here to search for things you'd like to download.
Best Garmin Connect IQ apps
The Garmin Connect IQ store has come on leaps and bounds since we originally penned this list, and now there's a tonne of useful applets to try out. We've rounded up our favourites below.
We think it's a fair assumption to make that if you've got a Garmin, you're probably logging your workouts in Strava as well. If a friend or fellow Strava user happens to share a good running or cycling route, this app will let you transfer it over to your watch so you can follow the same route. It'll show you when you've veered off course as well, if you're worried about getting lost.
Compatible watches: Forerunner 735XT, Forerunner 935, Fenix 5 series.
Remember this one from school? Yes, you can put yourself through the agony of a bleep test, setting up your watch to create 20 metre shuttle run that should quickly give you a sense of whether you need to spend a bit more time in the gym or in your running shoes.
Compatible watches: Fenix 5 series, Fenix 3, Fenix Chronos, Vivoactive HR/Vivoactive 3, Fenix 3, Forerunner 230/235/630/735XT/920XT/935.
An app not for tracking your fitness but your brushing time in the morning and before you go to bed. The timer is set up for the two minutes that dentist recommend you should spend cleaning your teeth highlighting the areas you should focus on with. It'll also send a small vibration to let you know when to move on from those awkward bits at the back.
Compatible watches: Fenix 5 series, Fenix 3, Fenix Chronos, Vivoactive/Vivoactive 3, Fenix 3 HR, Forerunner 230/235/735XT.
The makers of the wearable power meter for runners have also built a really useful companion Connect IQ app that lets you view power-based metrics tracked by the company's devices. This includes letting you can keep an eye on ground contact time, vertical oscillation and live power zones. It'll also help you get your pace right for race day. Away from the app, there's a Stryd Power data field, which can be added to a host of different sports tracking modes.
Compatible watches: Fenix 5 series, Fenix 3, Fenix Chronos, Vivoactive/Vivoactive HR/Vivoactive 3, Fenix 3, Forerunner 230/235/630/735XT/920XT/935.
Learn to run
For running beginners who've splashed out big on a feature-packed Garmin watch, this simple app offers a host of different training programs that will help you run 5K. When you've mastered doing a 5K, you can move up to 10k and running for longer with interval training added to the mix to get you in shape for covering those big distances.
Compatible watches: Fenix 5 series, Fenix 3, Fenix Chronos, Vivoactive/Vivoactive HR, Fenix 3, Forerunner 230/235/630/735XT/920XT/935, D2 Bravo.
Dozen Run is a data field that can be added to your Garmin watch and adds race prediction to your array of data. You can configure the race prediction by entering the distance of your preferred event in meters, which will display after just 45 seconds of running, and adapt as your pace changes. There's now even dedicated data fields for cycling, swimming and walking too.
Compatible watches: Fenix 5 series, Fenix 3, Fenix Chronos, Vivoactive/Vivoactive HR/Vivoactive 3, Fenix 3, Forerunner 230/235/630/735XT/920XT/935, D2 Bravo, Epix.
For HIIT lovers, 7-Minute Workout takes you through a series of exercises to get the heart pumping including jumping jacks and push-ups, factoring in rest times and displaying real-time heart rate data. The UI looks great and it'll help you mix up that training when you're struggling to put aside time.
Compatible watches: Fenix 5 series, Fenix 3, Fenix Chronos, Vivoactive/Vivoactive HR/Vivoactive 3, Fenix 3, Forerunner 230/235/630/735XT/920XT/935, D2 Bravo.
A neat app for all-day Garmin wearers, Uber ETA lets you know the status of your impending cab. You can get a countdown of its progress to your spot, with estimated time of arrival, make of car, license plate and even directions to the pick up location. Can we have this for our Apple Watch too?
Compatible watches: Fenix 5 series, Fenix 3, Fenix Chronos, Vivoactive/Vivoactive HR/Vivoactive 3, Forerunner 230/235/630/735XT/920XT/935, D2 Bravo
Want to cram your Garmin's screen with as much information as possible? GearMin is your friend. It adds every conceivable metric to your watch's display, from the time and date, to current step count, sunrise and sunset times, unread emails and live heart rate. It actually goes beyond information overload onto a new dimension of super data we've never experienced before.
Compatible watches: Fenix 5 series, Fenix 3, Fenix Chronos, Vivoactive/Vivoactive HR, Fenix 3, Forerunner 230/235/630/735XT/920XT/935, D2 Bravo, Epix
Strava Live Suffer Score
Strava is one of our favourite fitness platforms and it's great that Garmin has been open to integrating aspects of the service into its devices. The Suffer Score Connect IQ app shows a live reading of how hard you're working from your device's HR monitor, helping Strava users ensure they're getting the maximum from their session.
Compatible watches: Fenix 5 series, Fenix 3, Fenix Chronos, Vivoactive/Vivoactive HR/Vivoactive 3, Forerunner 230/235/630/735XT/920XT/935, D2 Bravo, Epix,
Aiming to put as much useful information in front of your eyes, ActiFace shows the time, date, activity history graph in calories and distance and daily goal progress and step count and notifications. It's a big improvement on some of Garmin's dull efforts, and certainly one for data geeks.
Compatible watches: Fenix 5 series, Fenix 3, Fenix Chronos, Vivoactive/Vivoactive HR/Vivoactive 3, Forerunner 230/235/630/735XT/920XT/935, D2 Bravo, Epix.
The updated hiking-friendly app once again serves up walking specific data such as altitude and headings, as well as standard distance and time tracking. If you have a Vivoactive, you can now also view a compass and barometer data from the watch screen.
Compatible watches: Fenix 5 series, Vivoactive HR/Vivoactive 3, Forerunner 735XT and 935.
Beer Tracker Plus
This is one that stole our hearts. This Connect IQ app tells you how many bottles of Bud you can drink as a new field of data within workouts. A must download for those who exercise to enjoy the finer things in life, but it would be better if you could swap for a nice crisp IPA.
Compatible watches: Fenix 5 series, Fenix 3, Fenix Chronos, Vivoactive/Vivoactive HR/Vivoactive 3, Forerunner 230/235/630/735XT/920XT/935, D2 Bravo.
A clever little idea, Commute Tracker gives you feedback on how effective your daily commute has been with statistics such as time spent stopped, time spent moving, total commute time, number of stops made, and maximum speed. All of the stats are tracked and aggregated based on the time of day of your commute and the idea is that over time, you'll start to see when it's best to leave the office and head home.
Compatible watches: Fenix 3, Fenix Chronos, Vivoactive, Forerunner 920XT
If your Garmin doesn't have the skills then OnPace helps you stick to your target pace during training runs. It lets you set a minutes per mile pace and giving you vibration feedback when you drop below or speed up above that target pace.
Compatible watches: D2 Bravo, Epix, Forerunner 920XT, Epix, Fenix 3, Vivoactive, Fenix Chronos
One for cyclists, runner and hikers, this helpful app lets you view routes on your watch screen, letting you zoom in four different ways, view current position and even show you a breadcrumbs trail. You'll need to go to the dwMap web page to set up routes then sync it to the watch before you go out exploring.
Compatible watches: Fenix 5 series, Fenix 3, Fenix Chronos, Vivoactive/Vivoactive HR/Vivoactive 3, Fenix 3, Forerunner 230/235/630/735XT/920XT/935, D2 Bravo, Epix
Basketball score tracker
Who says you just have to use your Garmin watch for running and cycling? This app can track action on the court letting you set up the quarters, record the scores for either side and even have a designated button for timeouts when you need to tweak tactics.
Compatible watches: Fenix 3, Fenix Chronos, Vivoactive, Fenix 3, Forerunner 920XT, D2 Bravo, Epix