Huge Garmin update adds a ton of features and fixes some major issues

Man using Garmin Fenix 7 watch
(Image credit: Garmin)

Garmin has announced that it's rolling out a big firmware update, software version 8.18, to its top-end Garmin Fenix 7 and Garmin Epix watches. 

Over the last few weeks the changes have been in the beta stage, but Garmin has begun rolling out the update more widely over the last few days, according to an announcement to Garmin users across Garmin's official forums. 

Although by far the biggest update is coming to the Fenix 7 and Epix devices, lots of other devices such as the Forerunner 245, 745 and 945 watches, as well as the Fenix 6 and Enduro range, will also get portions of this update, depending on which features these less premium watches support. 

You can check out the full details of the update here, but the upshot is that users are getting some great new features alongside some much-needed pre-emptive fixes. A new Enhanced Strength feature offers "an improved workout preview with a map of muscles that will be used, improved User Interface in free mode and workouts, and improvements to the Rep and Weight editing experience".

Added sports profiles such as horseback riding and 'fish', presumably meant to be fishing, are also nice to get, but the really cool stuff is in the UX. 

Your current Fitness Age, an estimate of how fit you are compared to your actual age, will now display in your User Profile. When looking at the options menu before starting an Adventure Race, you'll now be able to toggle your compass settings from there with a new entry in that menu. Adventure Race is also getting an added Stamina field.

Lots of bugs, both current and potential, will also receive fixes in this latest patch. Many of these are around issues with sports-specific maps like golf and skiing, but other UX issues like music timeouts and wrist gesture errors are also being addresssed. Even sleep detection is getting tweaked, although Garmin remains tight-lipped as to exactly how. 

Analysis: Garmin is getting its house in order

As interesting as software updates are, nothing quite gets the rumor mill churning like new devices, and we have no doubt that something big is coming soon. 

We've previously reported about the likelihood of the Forerunner 255 and 955 releasing this summer, and Garmin may have even more watches and other high-profile devices waiting in the wings.

But hardware is only half the battle: in order to achieve a successful launch, Garmin's software needs to be on point. Tweaks to the basics like sleep tracking and adventure races, Garmin's bread and butter, is great news for both existing Garmin users and those looking to jump on board with new releases. 

Such comprehensive firmware updates now are a clear indication that something is coming in the near future, and it's a wise move on Garmin's part to allow its hardcore users to test the changes in beta, before triumphantly extolling their virtues in a splashy new watch launch.

Matt Evans
Fitness, Wellness, and Wearables Editor

Matt is TechRadar's expert on all things fitness, wellness and wearable tech. A former staffer at Men's Health, he holds a Master's Degree in journalism from Cardiff and has written for brands like Runner's World, Women's Health, Men's Fitness, LiveScience and Fit&Well on everything fitness tech, exercise, nutrition and mental wellbeing.

Matt's a keen runner, ex-kickboxer, not averse to the odd yoga flow, and insists everyone should stretch every morning. When he’s not training or writing about health and fitness, he can be found reading doorstop-thick fantasy books with lots of fictional maps in them.