Garmin Connect website revamped with new look and features

Strava-like features added along with enhanced social media functionality

Garmin Connect, the GPS giant's free online fitness tracking community, is getting a new look and feel that freshens up the aging portal's stagnant appearance and adds a wealth of new functionality, including training plans, course segments, heat maps and user-configurable screens.

Taking a page from Apple's book, Garmin will introduce a new "widget-style dashboard" whereby users will be able to customize the appearance of their Connect home page based on their type of activities and data preferences. Garmin says the revamped site will be easier and more intuitive to navigate through, too.

Users can customize which widgets go where on their homepage

The new Garmin Connect will even include free training plans that can be uploaded directly to compatible GPS-enabled devices.

An enhanced reporting function will include new metrics such as total distance and average speeds, and "heat map overlays" will show an aerial overview of a region's activity popularity, quite similar to Strava's heat map function.

Some people have anticipated that Garmin Connect and Strava might eventually join forces, but other new features on the revamped site suggest that the two entities will instead continue on in parallel. The new Garmin Connect portal will allow users to create their own course segments, which will then allow for related features such as tracking progress over time and public leaderboards whereby people can compare their performance against others.

Of course, those segments will be searchable so that you'll not only be able to virtually compete against others locally but also when you're traveling to somewhere new.

The site updates will be rolled out in phases over the next three months.

In related news, Garmin just launched a digital fitness band called vivofit that tracks things like steps and distance and wirelessly uploads to Garmin Connect.

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