Is Garmin Connect getting ready to compete with BestBuy’s Lively and other remote monitoring service?

Garmin Connect crashing or freezing issue fix

The popular Garmin Connect service is potentially up for some new upgrades. Used by Garmin smartwatch owners and other Garmin products, Garmin Connect is a popular tool via which users can track, analyze and share health and fitness activities and more. Garmin could be on the way to offer new ‘PLUS’ services for some of its offerings.

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While other smartwatches such as Apple Watch can contact emergency services directly on your behalf, Garmin connect’s assistance feature has been somewhat basic so far.

With BestBuy recently offering its “Lively” app platform to Apple Watch users, the market for remote assistance services via wearables may be heating up. 

The Lively app also includes an urgent care feature that enables users to speak to a registered nurse or board-certified doctor from the comfort of home or on the go, without an appointment, 24/7. Users are required to pay $29.99 a month for BestBuy’s remote assistance services.

This may change soon with the next release of Garmin Connect, according to code discovered by a popular tech developer, Steve Moser ( @stevemoser)

Garmin is planning to soon offer an ‘Assistance Plus’ program to its existing and new Garmin Connect customers in selected countries.

“assistance_plus_disabled_geofencing_msg” => “Assistance Plus on your %1$@ is not supported in %2$@. Only your emergency contacts will be notified if you request Assistance.”

  “assistance_plus_enabled_geofencing_msg” => “Assistance Plus on your %1$@ is supported in %2$@.”

  “assistance_plus_supported_countries” => “Supported Countries”

  “assistance_plus_this_country” => “this country”

According to these code snippets found, it appears that Garmin’s new Assistance Plus will enhance the current assistance feature offering by offering services beyond the emergency contact message notification.

Current Garmin Connect Assistance service features

Currently, the Incident detection and Assistance program offering of Garmin Connect only provides users the ability to message their emergency contacts.

Garmin specifically calls out in its current offering that, Incident detection and assistance are supplemental features and SHOULD NOT be relied on as a primary method to obtain emergency assistance. 

Neither your device nor the Garmin Connect app can contact emergency services on your behalf.

When an incident is detected or you request assistance from your device, Garmin Connect will send your name and location to your emergency contacts. 

Location tracking is done via their LiveTrack location tracking feature. LiveTrack creates a real-time feed of your location during an activity. The current assistance feature requires a LTE enabled device with a GPS.

What could the new Assistance Plus service offering provide?

If we were to speculate based on the code snippets, it is clear that Garmin Connect’s new Assistance Plus feature offering is going to be a paid service and will include some form of remote assistance and emergency management features beyond what it offers today.

It is also unclear at this point whether the new Assistance Plus feature on the Garmin Connect will be made available to all users or if it will be limited to certain smartwatches. Clearly, this is going to be rolling out in selected geographies at first from what we can see in the code.

Garmin may decide to pilot the new PLUS offering with extreme sports users who use Garmin’s Surf watch or Fenix watches for Kiteboarding or Windsurfing or other extreme sports where assistance is definitely a must-have feature in case of emergencies.

Unfortunately, beyond what we can see on the code, the rest is mere speculation at this point. We are not sure if and when Garmin may offer this service or how much will it cost in terms of a monthly subscription.

Given that various companies such as BestBuy and others are carving themselves a market share of the wearables and remote assistance market, it may not be surprising if Garmin chooses to launch its own premium remote assistance services, thereby positioning itself into a lucrative segment that has pretty high margins.

The next time you hold down the power button on your Garmin LTE Smartwatch for approximately 7 seconds you could very well be speaking with a remote assistance specialist via the Assistance Plus functionality!!

I am a technologist with years of experience with Apple and wearOS products and have a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. In my day job, I advise fortune 500 companies with their digital transformation strategies and also consult with numerous digital health startups in an advisory capacity. I'm VERY interested in exploring the digital health&fitness-tech evolution and keep a close eye on patents, FDA approvals, strategic partnerships and developments happening in the wearables and digital health sector. When I'm not writing or presenting, I run with my Apple Watch or Fossil Gen 5 LTE and keep a close eye on my HRV and other recovery metrics.

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