Garmin smartwatch owners have spotted a new, unannounced heart rate feature

Garmin Forerunner 165
The recently unveiled Garmin Forerunner 165 (Image credit: Future)

Owners of some of the best Garmin watches have found a pleasant surprise hidden in the latest software update: an improvement to the Recovery Heart Rate feature, which means it's now able to run in the background.

Previously, Recovery Heart Rate – a measure of how quickly your heart rate goes back to normal after exercise, measured in beats per minute – would need a couple of minutes to configure itself after you ended a workout.

That's no longer the case, according to a post on Reddit (via Gadgets and Wearables). Garmin hasn't mentioned the change, but it seems it's being spotted by those with Forerunner 255 and Forerunner 955 watches on their wrists.

This is part of the recently issued software version 18.22 update for Garmin watches, though it also seems possible that it might be some kind of beta test, which would mean the new functionality wouldn't show up for all users.

More watches, more updates

The Garmin app for Android

The Garmin app for Android (Image credit: Garmin)

There's still room for improvement with the Garmin Recovery Heart Rate feature – as mentioned by Notebookcheck, the reading is still given separately for each activity, making it difficult to get an overall idea of your recovery ability.

According to Garmin, a faster heart rate recovery is indicative of better fitness. If your heart rate slows down to less than 12 beats per minute within a minute of stopping an activity, Garmin says, then you need to check in with a doctor.

Garmin continues to impress with both the frequency of its software updates and the number of features it manages to pack into its wearables to begin with – see our Garmin Forerunner 165 review for details of the latest example.

However, it's unusual for a new feature to be introduced without it being mentioned in the changelog for the relevant update. If any more light is shed on the mystery of the background Recovery Heart Rate reading, we'll let you know.

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David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.