Fitbit is releasing a software update for its Surge GPS watch this week, featuring three key new functions: extended GPS battery life, a timer and stopwatch function and something they’re calling “Run Cues.” We were fortunate to got a sneak peek at the new release last week. Here’s what we thought of the updates:
1. Extended GPS battery life.
This is the most important aspect of the update, and also the most noticeable. After wearing the watch 24-7 as an overall activity tracker for three days—it records total steps, floors climbed, overall mileage, heart rate and sleep—including two runs (70 minutes and 60 minutes, respectively) using the GPS mode, the charge level of the battery was down to around 25 percent. In my previous experience using the Surge, I have drained the battery dry by the end of my third day of regular use. I haven’t done any runs longer than 90 minutes using the Surge as my tracking device, so it’s hard to say how long it will last for a single outing, but Fitbit claims the GPS battery life will last 10 hours.
2. Timer/Stopwatch functionality.
One of my biggest initial frustrations with the Surge was its lack of timer/stopwatch function. Those notable omissions have finally been addressed in the latest software update and will make performance-minded runners such as myself happy. The timing and stopwatch feature can be configured to count values in increments between 5 seconds and 95 minutes, 55 seconds, allowing you to track your activities with better accuracy and more precision.
3. Introduction of “Run Cues.”
This is a new feature for the Surge that let’s you create automatic alerts in the Fitbit app before your run and gives you a notification on the watch when the time or distance you set for yourself (e.g. 10:00 or 1 mile) is reached. You can set your “Cues” in 0.5-mile increments up to 5 miles or 2-minute increments up to 30 minutes. I set mine to notify me after each mile with pace, distance, laps and my average heart rate. While new to the Surge, this is a basic functionality in many other GPS running watches on the market, but it’s an important—if not overdue—update to this unit.