Free update for your Garmin watch gives you more control over fitness tracking

Runner checking GPS watch in woodland
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Garmin has released a new update that should make heart rate tracking on your Forerunner watch more accurate – and you can install it today.

The new software, beta version 19.13, is available for the Garmin Forerunner 965, 955, 265, 255, and the newly released Forerunner 165. To get it, you'll need to join Garmin's public beta testing program, which will give you the opportunity to try new features and fixes early in exchange for your feedback and help with spotting any bugs.

The new update makes a few changes, but the most interesting (as reported by Polly Allcock of Notebookcheck) is a tweak that allows you to prevent your Garmin watch switching dynamically between collecting heart rate data from its own optical heart rate sensor, and a connected chest strap heart rate monitor.

What is dynamic switching?

The ability to switch between these sources automatically was introduced with a beta software update in April.

"The biggest benefit of the feature is for running activities," Garmin explains. "A heart rate strap is usually the most accurate source of heart rate data for running but occasionally there can be inaccurate heart rate at the beginning of runs, often referred to as start-up noise. This is caused by poor connection between the skin and the electrodes and typically resolves once you start to sweat."

If your watch detects an unsteady signal from your chest strap heart rate monitor, it will automatically switch to using its own heart rate sensor instead until things stabilize. It makes a lot of sense, but some users prefer to use their chest strap exclusively, so Garmin is now giving you the option to switch it off. 

All eligible beta testers should now have the latest software update. If you're interested in checking it out, follow our instructions for joining Garmin's public beta testing program.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.