Garmin Fenix 7 and Epix users are getting a huge free update

Dozens of improvements, fixes and new features are being rolled out to Fenix 7 and Epix watches – for free!

Two runners in a forest wearing Garmin Fenix 7 smartwatch
(Image credit: Garmin)

Garmin's Fenix and Epix watches have already been two of the most capable rugged performance smartwatches on the market but after the latest free software update, they will be even better value for money. The System Software 8.18 introduces heap-loads of bug fixes, adds tons of new features and improves many existing ones in one fell swoop.

The Garmin Fenix 7X and the Garmin Epix (Gen 2) really are the best Garmin watches money can buy – however, they are far from being cheap. For the money, though, you not only get a premium multisport watch but also updates such as this one that makes your watch more accurate and feature-rich for free. Not bad if you ask us.

Below is the insanely-long list of updates and fixes the watches will receive via wireless updates. We highlighted the most exciting bits.

Garmin System Software Update 8.18

Features added

  • Added palm screen support while in Connect IQ apps.
  • Added to and improved ability to modify settings in Garmin Connect mobile app.
  • Added Adventure Race start and end time to post activity summary UI.
  • Added Acclimation, Pace, Detailed Speed, Bouldering Metrics, Strength Metrics, and Indoor Climbing Metrics to post activity summary UI.
  • Added ability to perform Map Manager wifi map downloads when connecting to a computer as well.
  • Added download time estimation to map manager.
  • Added support for preloaded maps to update via map manager (Golf and Ski maps, etc.)
  • Added ability to toggle smart notifications in notifications and alerts menu.
  • Added ability to change the record activity setting mid-round for Golf.
  • Added new watch face data field types: 1, 2, 3 item raw data fields, sunrise/sunset, calories, alternate time zones, body battery, steps.
  • Added ability to go back to a Connect IQ watch face while in an activity.
  • Added prompt when user tries to start a Connect IQ app that records an activity when an activity is already being recorded.
  • Added option menu to Heart Rate app.
  • Added Stamina fields to the Adventure Racing activity.
  • Added a message that displays when heart rate dependent features are launched when Heart Rate tracking setting is disabled.
  • Added prompt when accesssing PulseOx glance when wrist heart rate is turned off.
  • Added Fitness Age display to User Profile settings.
  • Added Streak display to Steps widget.
  • Added Connect IQ System 5 support.
  • Added Fish activity. (We wonder what this is for? Is it fishing? Who knows.)
  • Added Green Contours support to golf.
  • Added Horseback Riding activity.
  • Added support for TM2 position formatting.
  • Added a side options menu to the sleep widget.
  • Added Compass settings to the Adventure Race options menu.
  • Added support for the following Extended Display data fields: Stamina, steps, active calories, and battery hours.
  • Added Enhanced Strength functionality, which includes an improved workout preview with a map of muscles that will be used, improved User Interface in free mode and workouts, and improvements to the Rep and Weight editing experience.
  • Added ability to access action menus via touchscreen tap.

Features fixed

  • Changed backlight keys setting to Keys and Touch - disabling Backlight response for button presses will now also prevent the backlight from responding to Touchscreen input.
  • Changed wording of “Stand” time to “Idle” time.
  • Fixed potential issue causing 0 recorded distance for Pool Swim activities.
  • Fixed potential lockup after completing a Daily Suggested Workout or Garmin Coach workout.
  • Fixed issue with HRV not showing up in a Health Snapshot.
  • Fixed potential freeze when sending an InReach message.
  • Fixed potential shutdown when navigating a round trip course.
  • Fixed UI flow issue in Jumpmaster when altimeter calibration is set to "Nightly."
  • Fixed erroneous InReach searching after completing a Health Snapshot and having previously paired an InReach device.
  • Fixed some minor watch face UI issues.
  • Fixed issue where pace and heart rate audio prompts were only giving averages.
  • Fixed issue causing map zoom buttons to sometimes disappear when in the Around Me feature.
  • Fixed issue causing alarm indicator on the sleep mode watch face to not show up if the alarm was set after a specific time.
  • Fixed an issue where accessing an activity profile might not prompt for a Daily Suggested Workout as expected.
  • Fixed issue causing flattened elevation plot when using Direct Routing.
  • Fixed potential shutdown when in a round of Golf.
  • Fixed issue with Auto Climb where user is unable to edit data screens if on run profile or switched to current screen.
  • Fixed Lap Alert translation truncation.
  • Fixed an issue where wrist heart rate would not turn on if turned on while in the middle of an activity.
  • Fixed a Connect IQ app issue where apps that record activities would time out to normal run activities when paused.
  • Fixed issue that could cause display to be slow to wake using Gesture setting, if CIQ watchface was active.
  • Fixed golf green view map update issues.
  • Fixed UI list index issue in map manager after having queued a map download.
  • Fixed issues with Connect IQ watch face low power transition.
  • Fixed potential issue with active calories value.
  • Fixed potential issue where Ascent and Descent data fields could overlap other data fields.
  • Fixed Golf issues with downloaded Course maps.
  • Fixed issue where custom Power Mode profile Display settings would not work in activity.
  • Fixed potential UI color issue on the keyboard.
  • Fixed issue where Connect IQ apps were not reloading after being updated.
  • Fixed UI issue with Adventure Race alert names.
  • Fixed potential UI issue on Acclimation post-activity summary page.
  • Fixed issue with Connect IQ ActivityInfo::distanceToDestination.
  • Fixed issue with saved location icon.
  • Fixed issues with calendar widget glance.
  • Fixed ability to access controls menu when in critically low battery mode.
  • Fixed issue with minimum value on Intensity Minutes graph.
  • Fixed issue where timer would be allowed to start when in a map activity and doing an altitude calibration.
  • Fixed potential issue where Main Menu could not be opened.
  • Fixed UI issues on Garmin Pay wallet page.
  • Fixed missing 'sync complete' message after download a Connect IQ app via Wi-Fi through the Connect IQ Store app on device.
  • Fixed potential issue where a user could get stuck in the lap banner.
  • Fixed issue where device could be unlocked by any key after having been locked via hot key.
  • Fixed many translations and localization issues.
  • Fixed Nautical Speed setting in windsurf activity.
  • Fixed issue where ski maps could show wrong positions.
  • Fixed issue where the music widget wouldn’t always time out.
  • Fixed issue where activity summary would display incorrect information for multisport activities.
  • Fixed potential shutdown when saving an activity and using a CIQ data field.
  • Fixed issue where wrist gestures would not work when a power mode is enabled.
  • Fixed potential map coloring issues with certain maps.
  • Fixed missing course line on map when racing an activity.
  • Fixed issue with touchscreen disabled during data screen previews.
  • Fixed potential issue with sending/receiving InReach messages.
  • Fixed potential InReach remote issue where message would contain bad characters.
  • Fixed issue where turning off system vibrations would also turn off haptic vibrations.

Features improved

  • Improved initial pairing flow in some cases which would cause the user to be stuck at the Garmin Connect logo.
  • Improved map UI when selecting a point while on the map.
  • Improved timer alarm design.
  • Improved sleep detection.
  • Improved User Interface (UI) of InReach app.
  • Improved power mode UI.
  • Improved touch support in some places.
  • Improvements made to map manager map download.
  • Improvements and fixes made to Health Snapshot.
  • Improved wording of sleep mode touch setting to be “auto” and “off.”
  • Removed haptic feedback for watch face data fields that do not launch anything (i.e. "epix" logo.)
  • Updated support for Shimano Di2.
  • Updated language translations.
  • Various other bug fixes and improvements.

That's it! As you can see, this is a big update, so it's best to keep the watch near the WiFi router to make sure all data is downloaded as fast as possible. Both Fenix 7 and Epix watches should download the updates automatically but if for whatever reason it isn't initiated automatically, sync the watch with the Garmin Connect app. Often, Garmin devices update overnight if they are left near the smartphone they are connected to.

Haven't got a Fenix 7 or an Epix watch yet? Check out the best Garmin watch deals to find the best deal today, or peruse the widgets below.

Matt Kollat
Section Editor | Active

Matt Kollat is a journalist and content creator who works for and its magazine counterpart as an Active Editor. His areas of expertise include wearables, drones, fitness equipment, nutrition and outdoor gear. He joined T3 in 2019. His byline appears in several publications, including Techradar and Fit&Well, and more. Matt also collaborated with other content creators (e.g. Garage Gym Reviews) and judged many awards, such as the European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance's ESSNawards. When he isn't working out, running or cycling, you'll find him roaming the countryside and trying out new podcasting and content creation equipment.