Garmin updates one of its most popular rugged smartwatches ahead of Black Friday

Check your Garmin watch; it might have been updated

Garmin Instinct 2 lifestyle images
(Image credit: Garmin)

Garmin watch owners, rejoice! The popular watch manufacturer has released a new version of the software for the Instinct 2 and Instinct 2S watches ahead of Black Friday, complete with additional features and improvements you will actually notice — not always a given with these updates. There's one bit of bad news, though. This release — version 10.08 — is in beta, which means you need to sign up for Garmin's beta testing program to receive the update. We'll tell you how to do so at the end of this article.

However, version 10.08 is also a "release candidate", which means it should head out soon to non-guinea-pig Garmin owners as long as the beta brigade doesn't find any bad new bugs. And considering the Instinct 2 is one of the best Garmin watches for people who like spending time outdoors but haven't got the budget to buy a Garmin Epix Gen 2 or the Garmin Enduro 2, this means a lot of people will get a free update on their watches – soon.

Garmin Instinct 2 update – Version 10.08 (Beta)

So, what’s new? Version 10.08 brings three activity tracking modes and an additional mini app to the Garmin Instinct 2 and Instinct 2S. The activities are Surf, Windsurf and Kiteboard, while the Tides app perfectly slots in with this trio. Garmin’s Tides app shows when the high and low tides are in a chosen location. We first saw these features in an alpha software release back in October. 

One other part we’re keen to check out sits at number “7” on Garmin’s list of 15 new features and fixes listed on the Garmin website, which “improved the delay when saving an activity.” The Garmin Instinct series is home to some of its most feature-packed value watches, but not always the slickest, so a little extra pep in day-to-day use is welcome. 

This update also lets you customise what happens to the backlight when you press a button during “sleep” times, which you usually set when first pairing the watch in Garmin Connect. To turn on or not to turn on? We’ll go with keeping the backlight off at 3 am, for now, thanks. 

Useful to some, a mystery to many, the Instinct 2 beta update also adds distinct notification icons for Garmin Messenger and Garmin Jr. The first is an SMS-like messenger app that pairs up with the InReach Messenger satellite communication unit, while Garmin Jr. notifications will come from any Garmin kiddie bands you get for your children. 

Garmin Instinct 2 lifestyle images

(Image credit: Garmin)

How to install

These are the most exciting changes in version 10.08, but you can check out the complete list over at the Garmin forums. To sign up for these beta software updates, go to and log in to your Garmin account. Select the watch icon at the top-right of the screen and then the Device Settings shortcut in the pop-up that identifies your current Garmin watch. You should see a Join Beta Software Program link on this page.