Smartwatches continue to be one of the hottest trends in 2015 and are at the top of a lot of holiday wish lists. There’s no question that Apple generated a lot of interest in wearable technology with the introduction of the Apple Watch earlier this year, but they are not the only game in town. Garmin has been hard at work as well on its line of smartwatches, and is the only company to offer a dedicated smartwatch designed for pilots.
The Garmin D2 Bravo is a second generation device building on the popularity of the original D2 aviation watch. This new model features a variety of aviation sensors, including GPS, altimeter and 3-axis compass, along with dedicated Direct-to and Nearest buttons. We reviewed the D2 Bravo in detail here a few months back, and today we’re going to show how you can use it with the Garmin Connect app to get the most out of it as an everyday smartwatch.
Pairing the D2 with the Garmin Connect app
Because it was built specifically for the needs of pilots, the D2 Bravo doesn’t need to be tethered to a phone or iPad in the airplane to provide full navigation and flight performance data, making it an excellent backup navigation tool. For everyday use on the ground though, you’ll want to pair it up to your iPhone or Android device to deliver internet connectivity to the watch, along with the full array of smartwatch features (just like with the Apple Watch).
To get started, download the Garmin Connect app to your iPhone (Android version here). There are a couple key things to remember–the Garmin Connect app is a completely separate app from the Garmin Pilot app, and is only built for phones and not iPads/tablets (again just like the Apple Watch concept).
Next follow these steps to pair the D2 Bravo to your phone:
- Turn on Bluetooth on the D2:–hold UP button on the D2 for a few seconds, go to Settings->Bluetooth, and turn on Bluetooth
- Enable Pairing on the D2–while in the D2 Bluetooth settings, select the option to “Pair Mobile Device”
- Turn on Bluetooth on your phone–go to your phone’s Settings app and turn on Bluetooth. The important takeaway here is that you cannot pair the watch like you normally would in the Bluetooth settings page. Rather it’s done directly in the Garmin Connect app.
- Pair with Garmin Connect app–open the Garmin Connect app on your phone, and go to Garmin Devices, select the “+” key at the top right of the screen, choose “Other”, and select D2 Bravo. You’ll next enter your personal information and preferences (used primarily for fitness tracking features), and follow the prompts to finalize the pairing.
You’ll only need to complete this pairing process once, as the watch will automatically connect again when your phone is nearby.
Using the D2 Bravo’s connected features
The D2 Bravo relies on a system of “Widgets” to display small bits of useful information from both its internal sensors and your phone. By default you’ll see widgets displaying sensor data and flight instruments from the compass, altimeter and activity tracker. But when connected to your phone you’ll see internet-driven data, like the current METAR for the nearest airport (or any airport you select) and general weather forecasts.
iPhone users will also see all the standard iOS notifications in a dedicated widget, which are loaded from all the apps on your phone and not just those from Garmin. Best of all you can add third-party Widgets to the D2 from Garmin’s Connect IQ Store. There are a wide variety of fitness and navigation widgets available, along with some that are aviation weather related, like the MyMetar app that allows you to view nearby TAFs on the display.
When on any screen, you’ll also see pop-up notifications and feel a vibrations when you receive an incoming call, text message, email, etc. It also constantly monitors your activity and displays all your stats in the Garmin Connect app. This feature makes it a great fitness tracker too, useful for running, biking, skiing or any other workout activity. The Connect app does a nice job of collecting and organizing this data for easy review on your iPhone’s larger screen.
The Garmin D2 Bravo is available for $649 after a mail-in rebate and is shipping now.