Your smartphone runs apps from a variety of companies, bringing functionality not provided by the phone itself. What if your cycling computer could do the same thing? Imagine a touchscreen cycling computer with purpose-built apps from Strava or TrainingPeaks.
With the Edge 1000, Garmin merged the best-in-class mapping capabilities of the Edge Touring Plus with the detailed training metrics of the Edge 810. Based on Garmin’s active recruitment for its Connect IQ platform, we suspect the next iteration, likely dubbed the Edge 1010, will have multiple app interfaces available like a smartphone.
We also hope the Edge 1010 will also have improved battery life over the 1000, a greater screen-to-total-size ratio and the ability to upload directly and wirelessly to non-Garmin sites the way the 1000 does now with Garmin Connect.
What we know: Garmin asking for third-party app development; Strava working with many other companies’ APIs
The proliferation of so-called smart watches rely on integration with external software if not hardware. While Garmin Edge computers have always played nice with third-party hardware such as heart-rate straps and power meters via ANT+, incorporating third-party software into the Edge itself is a paradigm shift for the GPS giant.
Connect IQ is Garmin’s API development platform upon which any developer can build an app for a Garmin device. For cycling, only the new Forerunner 920XT multisport watch has publicly incorporated Connect IQ.
Garmin's new Forerunner 920XT multisport watch
But Garmin is already requesting other companies develop cycling-specific Connect IQ apps for Garmin devices. While some companies – Strava, for example – don’t comment on such things, others like TrainerRoad aren’t as coy.
“We have been approached by Garmin about this as they would like us to develop for their hardware, and it definitely does interest us,” said TrainerRoad spokesman Jonathan Lee. “Having said that, it falls behind a pretty long list of development tasks. We base our platform expansion decisions on our user base, and at this time the amount of users that have Connect IQ compatible devices is extremely small. So to build for this in the near future, the demand would have to outpace other platforms like Android.”
With a claimed three million activities uploaded every week, Strava is a dominant player in digital cycling. Last year, Strava spokesman Michael Oldenburg told BikeRadar that while Strava would never build its own device – “We’ve seen what happens when hardware companies try to get into software, so we won’t venture into hardware,” he said – the San Francisco company is exploring other options. “We are working to see how we can deliver that awesome real-time Strava experience,” Oldenburg added, declining to name any partner names.
Strava has already worked with such companies as Apple and Sony for smartwatch apps, and leveraged Foursquare’s API for an in-house project called Top Stops that records where cyclists like to congregate. The Sony app is basically a remote start/stop for Strava on a tethered smartphone, and while the Apple app adds some more features like real-time Segments, it still relies on riding with a smartphone. Jumping to a full-featured Strava app on a Garmin Edge without a paired smartphone isn’t hard to conceive. But will it happen?
“I wouldn't be surprised if it happened,” said a source close to the matter. “It's basically a frenemy relationship between Garmin and Strava right now. They want to work together but are also highly suspect [sic] of each other.”
What we’d like to see: bigger performance, smaller body, plays well with others
While robust software integration could be cool, we’d like to see some hardware improvements, namely a smaller body and longer battery life. While the big color screen is helpful for navigation, the body extends well beyond the screen size. Also, our recent testing pegged the battery life at about five hours when using navigation the entire time. This is a far cry from the claimed 15 hours.
We'd also like to see more integration with Shimano's digital toys. Garmin and the Japanese giant have already partnered to use buttons on the latest Dura-Ace levers to control Edge computers. How about using an Edge computer to run a Shimano Action Camera app as well as Garmin's own Virb camera?
A big plus of the current Edge 1000 is the plethora of digital connection options: ANT+, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and even good, old-fashioned USB. With Wi-Fi, you can set up the computer to automatically upload completed rides when in range of your home network. And the same goes for Bluetooth when paired with your smartphone. But, these automatic uploads are limited to Garmin Connect. We’d like to be able to choose where the Edge automatically uploads, such as Strava. Yes, you can link your account to Strava or TrainingPeaks, but in our experience the Garmin Connect server isn’t always dependable.
As to when we will see an Edge 1010 or something like it, Garmin says there is no new Edge on the immediate road map. Time will tell.