On complaining

You know those tweets where someone tries to take down their internet provider? This is not a post about that. This is about design decisions that companies make and how those decisions impact their customers.  But it’s mostly about innovation.

This will be complete data nerd nit-pick about my watch (still hesitate to call it that). It looks like this:


(It’s only slightly smaller than the image actually. Meaning – it’s a big watch).

List 1 (old way).

  1. Ride (bicycle) to the office in the morning.
  2. Arrive at desk, Ant Agent running on tiny USB in laptop is in search mode and syncs data to USB drive.
  3. Go for a run at lunch
  4. Return to desk…eat hummus and crackers… Ant Agent running on tiny USB in laptop is in search mode and syncs data to USB drive
  5. Log into Strava
  6. Upload new activities
  7. Look at my weekly mileage for running and riding and feel pleased.


List 2 (new way).

  1. Ride (bicycle) to the office in the morning.
  2. Open iPhone, open Garmin Connect Mobile app
  3. Click Menu > Sync on watch
  4. Wait for data to sync to mobile
  5. Arrive at desk, log in to connect.garmin.com
  6. Navigate to activity
  7. Download .gpx file to desktop
  8. Log in to strava.com
  9. Upload .gpx file from desktop
  10. Go for a run at lunch
  11. Return to desk…eat a whole wheat fig newton…open iPhone, open Garmin Connect Mobile app
  12. Click Menu > Sync on watch
  13. Sync failed, msg “Unlink device from phone.”
  14. Unlink device from phone
  15. Put watch in Pairing mode
  16. Pairing failed
  17. Uninstall Garmin Connect Mobile app
  18. restart iPhone
  19. restart watch
  20. Pair iPhone and watch
  21. Sync begins and completes
  22. Log in to connect.garmin.com
  23. Navigate to activity
  24. Download .gpx file to desktop
  25. Log in to strava.com
  26. Upload .gpx file from desktop
  27. Consider calling my mom and asking her for advice about my life choices

See what I mean?

So here’s what happened. Garmin (the company) does not want customers to use 3rd party systems to view data collected with their devices… or they just don’t really care about making it easy to do (anymore). This is both a design decision and a product decision.

Strava is a better platform than Garmin connect. Instead of out-innovating a smaller competitor, they decided to put the customer in the middle and make it painful to use the competitive platform. They deprecated the technology (that worked perfectly fine) for a newer technology that more closely ties the consumer to their ecosystem of product and service. Apple does the same thing – but Garmin is no Apple. Garmin software is buggy. Really buggy.

This is also a lesson for Strava and building services on products they don’t control. Is Strava so compelling that users will go through the pain of List 2 above? Or will consumers wait until Garmin (maybe) catches up? Should this technology be “open”?

Finally…this post is about the programmable web, APIs and the internet of “thangs” (much cooler than things).  Strava tried to pull back their APIs from developers last year (Twitter did the same  and got away with it – because the platform *is* so compelling) and got their hand slapped by said developers.

For my immediate pain – there are a couple of options  to explore. There are a few services that will auto-update between platforms – so when data hits Garmin, it will automatically sync with another platform (like Strava). There is also https://ifttt.com/ and https://zapier.com/ that I may be able to automate some kind of sync. We’ll see.

btw. The best ifttt recipe I saw was a recipe to begin flashing Philips Hue bulbs and play music when dad was nearly home from work each day. I’m not sure if I could do that to my kids (imagine the therapy later in life)… but if I did, this would be the song that would play when the lights started to flash. Imagine the EXCITEMENT!!!

I didn’t even get nerdy. Oh… and here’s the run on Garmin Connect:


I don’t even know what to do with all this data. I mean… “my vertical oscillation was all over the place” … lolwut? **As evidence of the buggy software – the HRM and 3rd sensor stopped transmitting data at 25 minutes. Boo.


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