Another subtle change in the Garmin API

UPDATE: thanks to a tip from @GViewerPro I have now a fix which will be a next release. Thanks a lot.

Since the login change, another less obvious change to the data service of garmin has resulted in a few issues with ConnectStats.

The track data contains now significantly less points. It used to provide points as often as recorded, but now the track data service returns a lot less points.

Here is an example of an activity downloaded before and after the service change. Notice the scatter point contains a lot less points.



This has a few consequences in the app:


The app smoothing logic is not working as well anymore. We now have a point every 10 to 20 seconds, so it’s harder to figure out how to smooth. Intervals for example may not be plotted properly if they are less than a minute. If that happens turn off the smoothing, by selecting the graph full screen and pressing the Slider Icon to show the smoothing options.


Auto Lap

The logic in auto lap was trying to account for times where the device was on pause. This logic gets mixed up with the new sparse points. A fix and a better logic is on the way for next update.

What I will do about it

I have somewhat tweaked the logic in the smoothing and auto lap feature and this will be incorporated in the new release 1.18. I am also investigating to use the tcx file available. This file seems to still contains all the data point. ConnectStats used to get its data from that file, but it was changed to a different api that contains more information, like the running dynamics of the new ForeRunner 620. I will probably see if I can do a merge of the files, use the tcx file for main data and the sparse data for running dynamics and other fields.

Multiple Profiles in ConnectStats

ConnectStats allows you to maintain multiple profiles. This can be useful to either track several users or now several services independently.

You access the profile setup from the settings view, the blue arrow 2 below


You will then see the list of profiles existing in the app. It will start with only one named Default. Each profile will maintain its own list of activity and service setup.

You create a new profile by using the New Profile line. It will the prompt you for the name of the profile. Please avoid using special characters in the name. You can then simply tap on the profile you want to activate at any time.

Here is the list of profile in my current setup. You can see I created profile for different service setup and other accounts in garmin connect I use, as well as for the activity of friends.

Screenshot 29 03 2014 10 14

If you use the Delete Activities or Profile, this will let you either completely delete the current profile or some activity in the profile. Note that deleting activities here, is only locally in the app, not on the remote service, at the next refresh the activity will be downloaded again. It’s mostly useful if you want to make sure you refresh many activities from the remote services at once.

View or manage cache is simply a way to see how much disk space the app uses across the different files it keeps.

ConnectStats setup for multiple services

From version 1.8, ConnectStats can source its activities data from different services. This was mainly done such that there is a future for the app, even if Garmin decide to close its data to 3rd parties.

In the first release, ConnectStats will support extracting data from Strava. At this point, getting the data from Garmin is still the only way to get running dynamics data for the new garmin devices (Forerunner 620), or some advance statistics like Normalized Power, etc. But Strava provide a good alternative for everything else.

We will go over in this post how to set up services. Please note it can be quite useful to maintain different profiles when using multiple services. You can also have several services enabled for one profile and it will combine the activities.

You access the setup from the settings page as below. The green arrow 1 points to the services setup, and 2 to the profiles setup.
To enable a service for activities download, turn on the Download Activities toggle.


Services Setup

The service setup screen will initial shows the list of service with the setup for Garmin expanded. After all, at this point this app is still focused on the Garmin service… Simply tap on the service name, pointed with the blue arrow, to expand or collapse the setup information for a given service.


Garmin Setup

For garmin, once you enable the service, your main choice is the log in method.

  • With the direct method you enter your name and password, and ConnectStats will handle the login directly.
  • With the Web method you need to enter your name and password manually when required in the Garmin login screen. The direct method is much better, but unfortunately the Garmin service seems a bit capricious and sometimes returns an Access Denied, in which car using the web method can usually help.

Note that from the experience of users so far the Access Denied error usually is transient and after a day or so the connection may work again. Needless to say that Garmin has so far not helped providing any info how to avoid the problem. If they charge the fee they mentioned, one can only hope they will provide better support and a more reliable 3rd party access process.

There is also a Manual Login option. This is a last resort tool if all fails to see via a browser what happens during the login process. Try to login and once the Garmin Connect Dashboard appear, you can press either the List button or One to manually query some of the API the app is using.

Strava Setup

You can use Strava service in two ways:

  • As the source for your activities, when the Download Activities toggle is on.
  • To upload the activities you look at, when the Auto Sync on Download toggle is on.

There is no entry for the username and password in Strava, as the service rely on authentication via Strava website directly. What that mean is that, when you will try to use the service, the Strava website login will pop up. You will then need to enter your credential and the first time, authorise ConnectStats to access your data. Once you have connected once, usually the login won’t be presented again, unless you change profile.

Withings Setup

You can use Withings data to enrich your analysis with history of your weight or other measurement from a Withings scale.
To Enable, you need to enter your name and password in the setup, and Tap the Press to login line.

If your credentials were entered correctly, the screen should show the following


If you have several user in your Withings accounts, you can select the correct one to use.

If you select the Auto Refresh option, every time you update your activities, ConnectStats will query the Withings service for new measures.

When the service is enabled, you will see in each activity details the latest weight corresponding to a given activity and in the Stats section you’ll be able to use the weight series.

Garmin Connect New Policy Impact on ConnectStats and 3rd party apps

First I want to be clear that I have been a huge fan of Garmin’s for years. I own 6 devices and think they are extremely well done. I have also encouraged a lot of friends, colleagues and family to purchase Garmin devices over the years.

Monday March 2nd, Garmin announced they would stop making their API freely accessible and that 3rd party would have to pay $5,000 to access the data in Garmin connect.

I understand their infrastructure is costly to maintain but I feel such a steep fee risk killing the independent 3rd party applications which I believe adds value to Garmin customers and therefore Garmin as well.

I would propose a multi-tier system where 3rd party apps register and get a first limit of daily access for free, say 50,000 access per day. Heavy user breaching this limit would have to pay the 5,000$ fee.

I believe this system would be to both Garmin’s and its users benefit.

The Policy Change

On wednesday February 19th, Garmin updated its website which resulted in the approach used by most apps and website to access garmin connect data via an API to fail. The api used to have a license saying the following

This is the license file for You are free
to access our API as long as you agree to create great things.

The link to that license has now been disabled

On monday March 2nd, Garmin has notified developers that they are changing their policy and will charge $5,000 dollar fee for access to the API. Here is an extract of the message about the new policy.

Garmin has instituted a new policy regarding the accessibility of our developer programs. The previous strategy of freely available APIs quickly became unsustainable due to increasingly high demand. In response, we have established a new pathway for our Connect API. Firstly, there is a vetting process. We are strategically limiting the scope of this program to specific developers that will enhance the user experience. Secondly, those who are approved for inclusion will be charged one-time $5,000 administrative fee to cover the extensive engineering and server support required for the Connect program.

Consequence of the decision

This decision will likely force the eco system of independently developed 3rd party app to partially or completely disappear. This is a consequence which will affect customers. A lot of innovation can come from independent developers. Niche functionality can make its way to customers. It is likely not worth Garmin’s engineers’ time to cater to all customers software needs or custom data analysis needs. Enabling third party to provide for them helps make the Garmin devices more attractive. The size of the fee will dissuade a lot of experimentation for small players. The cost of entry is too high.

Most disturbingly it means it prevents people to use their own data in more creative ways than just using the data from the website. ConnectStats started as purely a tool for myself to look and slice my own data. I decided to share it as it could be useful to others, but right now it means I would not be able to use my own data in my code without paying $5,000, even if I pull the app from the store. This sounds wrong to me. Savvy users wanting to use a script to import their data efficiently for processing won’t be able to do that either.

In a world where the fitness market is exploding, I feel it would be to Garmin’s and its customers’ interest not to exclude this source of innovation for functionality.

My choices

I have the following choices for ConnectStats:

  1. kill the app. It would really pain me as part of the initial motivation was to provide a service for myself I couldn’t otherwise get: a more advanced viewer for my data on iPhone and iPad that what Garmin offers.
  2. swallow the cost. It’s a lot of money. I intentionally kept the purchase price at the minimum as to cover development cost and devices (money going back to Garmin by the way…) but my key motivation beyond my own use was sharing the app and not really generating large profits.
  3. increase the sell price of the app and hope people will continue to buy it. It somehow feels wrong to charge the users more just for the sake of them accessing the data they should own already. Right now if I increase the price from $.99 to $2.99 for ConnectStats, I am hoping to recover the Garmin fee over time. People pay several hundred dollars for their device. I hope they will accept the few extra dollars to pay Garmin for the right to access their data.
  4. switch ConnectStats to rely on another service. I am already working on that to use strava as primary download service and hope strava will pay the fee to get the data from garmin. This has some downside as some data won’t be available and Strava does not support swimming and skiing which I personally rely on.

Comparison to others services

I also wanted to comment on the fee structure proposed. A fee of $5000 is a lot of money by any standard. Niche independent Apps do not generate much revenue, mostly cover the costs. Here are some other services I use as comparison.

  • Apple charges $99 a year plus 30% of every sale to access their development tools and app distribution infrastructure. And this infrastructure and marketing power is of extremely high quality and adds a lot of value to independent developers like myself and to its customer. It wouldn’t occur to me to complain about this cost.
  • Strava provide an access to its data for free up to a certain rate limit once you are registered. Their API is extremely well documented, modern and their support and help to my questions have been great. I applaud Strava would provide a sophisticated website and API for free when their business model does not include revenue from any hardware.
  • Garmin support and documentation was so far inexistent. There are no or little documentation. I have never received an answer to any of my inquiries. Everything had to be reverse engineered. It doesn’t bother me at all given it was free but for $5,000 it’s a different issue.

I have been inquiring with Garmin about what exactly is provided when I pay the fee. What exactly do I get for that money: same API? Do I need to adapt my code to a new API? Do I get more documentation? Better support? Some marketing/promotion of the app as Apple provides?


I believe the independent and small 3rd party partners add a lot of value to Garmin and the ability for users to access freely their own data is important. I understand the potential infrastructure cost and need to control usage for Garmin.

I suggest they offer a tiered system. Any user of the API would have to register and get some basic number of API access per day, say 50,000. Users above that limit would be required to pay the $5,000 fee to use the service. This would allow them to recoup some infrastructure cost from heavy user but still allow their customers to benefit from 3rd party functionality and access to their data.

What I plan to do for ConnectStats

I am doing 2 things:

  1. I have written to Garmin to explain why I feel a tier system would be better for all parties involved. I hope they will agree.
  2. ConnectStats is somewhat successful, receives good reviews and regular download. I hope by raising the price by an additional $2 this should help sponsor and recover the fee from Garmin. I have applied to be part of the program. Assuming Garmin approves my application, I plan to pay the fee myself and hope people will continue buying the app at the higher price to recover the money over time

Thanks for reading.