The latest Garmin Forerunner beta update is built for power users and clumsy runners

The Garmin Forerunner 165 and 965 side-by-side on a bench, showing identical heart rate data after a run activity.
(Image credit: Michael Hicks / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Garmin launched its newest beta software for the Garmin Forerunner 165, 255, 265, 955, and 965 on Wednesday.
  • Beta users will have access to a Jet Lag Adviser glance, Garmin Messenger glance, and lost phone finder tool.
  • Forerunner watches will now auto-switch HR data between your chest and wrist for the "best" accuracy.
  • The update also includes some bug fixes and a new haptic feedback option. 

Hot on the heels of a somewhat controversial Garmin Forerunner update in March, Garmin released a new beta update, version 19.09, on Wednesday to its five latest Forerunner watches. And one bug fix can't arrive in a stable update soon enough.

The first beta update since the Garmin Forerunner 165 launch, v19.09 helps you find a lost smartphone during an activity by saving the GPS location where your phone and Garmin watch disconnected. At that point, you can use the Find My Phone feature to track it down via Bluetooth.

You also get a new Garmin Messenger app on your watch. Up until now, you could only check Messenger on your phone, high-end Fenix models, or InReach-compatible handhelds like the GPSMAP 67i; with this update, you'll be able to check responses on your wrist and send quick preset replies on Android (iOS blocks this function).

While the Forerunner 165 doesn't support Jet Lag Adviser, the other four Forerunners, like the Forerunner 265, will now get a Jet Lag glance to check your progress acclimating after a long flight. It should come in handy if you're a frequent world traveler for marathons.

The "Find My Phone" option in the Controls menu on the Garmin Forerunner 965

(Image credit: Michael Hicks / Android Central)

The update includes "various UI improvements and fixes," and one in particular that stands out "fixes persistent notification vibration for incoming calls." This obnoxious bug will cause your Garmin watch to continue buzzing your wrist after you've declined a call on your phone for about 10 seconds. We're beyond ready for this to be fixed in a stable update.

One fix exclusive to the Forerunner 965 and Forerunner 955 is a patch for the Lock on Road feature, which essentially makes your post-run map look more accurate than it really is by dragging your GPS line onto the nearest road. All of the Forerunners received a fix to prevent music control crashes. 

One noticeably absent fix, however, is anything related to the heart rate tracking issues introduced in the March 18.22 update. Many users complained that this patch introduced issues with the wrist-based HR sensor data. With update 19.09, Garmin added "heart rate dynamic source switching to select the best heart rate data source (watch or chest HRM) to improve accuracy during running activities."

We never heard back from Garmin about these user complaints, but this update feels like a message in itself: If you're dealing with heart rate accuracy issues, try a heart rate monitor strap with wrist-based data as a backup. Hopefully, a future update will properly address these issues.

Beyond what's listed in the Garmin Forum patch notes, the Garmin Forerunner v19.09 update added haptic feedback as you scroll through menu options, something that's often found on mainstream smartwatches. If you want to test these features for yourself, you'll need to sign up for the beta software.

Michael L Hicks
Senior Editor, VR/AR and fitness

Michael is Android Central's resident expert on fitness tech and wearables, with an enthusiast's love of VR tech on the side. After years freelancing for Techradar, Wareable, Windows Central, Digital Trends, and other sites on a variety of tech topics, AC has given him the chance to really dive into the topics he's passionate about. He's also a semi-reformed Apple-to-Android user who loves D&D, Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings.

For wearables, Michael has tested dozens of smartwatches from Garmin, Fitbit, Samsung, Apple, COROS, Polar, Amazfit, and other brands, and will always focus on recommending the best product over the best brand. He's also completed marathons like NYC, SF, Marine Corps, Big Sur, and California International — though he's still trying to break that 4-hour barrier.