Suunto’s Hard Transition: Movescount Out, Suunto App FTW

It’s already been about a year that the Suunto app ran in parallel to Suunto’s Movescount; now, finally, they have clarified what their transition plans are: Retire Movescount, focus on mobile.

For Long-Time Suunto Users…

For longer-time Suunto users, the news are a bit of a shocker.

After all, Movescount is likely to hold a large number of your recordings, be the repository for your routes, serve you for analysis of your performance and how it developed.

And with summer 2020 (at the earliest), that will be no more.

The Suunto app, meanwhile, only has some of those features.

Transitioning…

Now, Suunto is saying that move data transfer from Movescount to Suunto app will become available this spring (2019), long before Movescount is retired. And even if the Suunto app will not show some of the data from those moves, it will be in the database to be shown later. Or not.

Routes, for example, will not be transferred over. For data like that, it will be necessary to export from Movescount.

Frankly, one’s own store of routes increasingly seems necessary to me, anyways (unless you just trust online portals and use the routes they offer – same as I increasingly save and show the GPX of my trails here, actually…)

Mobile Only?

Perhaps the biggest lack, going by what Suunto has been saying, is that they seem to be going mobile-first, if not mobile-only.

The only reason I’m not always just calling it mobile-only is *not* that you can (currently) see the activity logs that you have saved via the Suunto app on Sports-Tracker. That is just a fluke resulting from how the Suunto app came out of Suunto’s acquisition of Sports-Tracker.

Sports-Tracker will not, however, become the web platform for the Suunto app; going by the current information, there will simply not be a web platform provided by Suunto.

Why it’s still not mobile-only?

The Suunto app does not yet offer over-the-air of Suunto watch firmware. There is no WIFi on those watches for updates, either.

To update watch firmware, you still need to have a computer with Suuntolink installed. It just does not serve for any synchronization of watch logs anymore, it updates the GPS data, shows battery levels, and informs about and does firmware updates, if they are available.

Seeing how much has been said about Suunto doing rather well in the Chinese market – and Amer Sports (the company holding Suunto as well as Salomon, Arc’teryx, Wilson, and others) has been pretty much taken over by a Chinese consortium – a mobile-focused strategy is very understandable.

Then they would have to go all-in with a mobile strategy, though.

Goodbye, Ambit3 Apps, Ambit3 and Traverse Customization…?

While newer watches beginning with the Spartan collection have received sports mode customization in the Suunto app, the Ambit3 and Traverse will lose that.

At least going by current information from Suunto, more will be lost:

  • Sports mode customization will disappear (unless Suunto puts it into the app, which I would hope, but do not really expect as it would be quite different from the newer watches’ customization, thus costly)
  • Route creation/transfer for these older watches is not mentioned (though I would be surprised if that didn’t come).
    Then again, the app currently does not support waypoints, and neither do the newer watches, in any sensible way.
  • Suunto Ambit apps will no longer be available
  • The Ambit3 will lose complex workouts (a feature of the Movescount app)

All that Suunto really says for these legacy devices is that they will have some compatibility, e.g. to sync training data and view logs, get the GPS optimization, and get notifications (like now).

Suunto also mentions “enriching your trainings with images,..”, “social sharing” and syncing with other services, but that’s all just things that the app can do with the logs once synced (or one could do with exported logs, always and everywhere they are supported).

Pre-Bluetooth Devices

The “usable life” of watches older than the Ambit 3, which were built without Bluetooth connectivity, will obviously be considered over: They will not have compatibility with the Suunto app (since they can’t be synced with phones).

It’s really over not because of that, but because the retirement of Movescount will mean that they will no longer have a platform to sync data with.

So, Ambit, Ambit2, M, t3 and t6, and Quest are all out. Frankly, if you still use any of those watches (except maybe an Ambit 2), you are way out of your time…

Update, May 28, 2019:

Suunto just sent out an update on their digital services transition, stating that they are working on a way to connect Ambit and Ambit 2 watches to the Suunto App:

We want to share that we will have a solution to connect to Suunto app in the future. While we are still working on many details and the timing, we wanted to let you know our plans, and that you have our commitment that you will be able continue to enjoy your trusted Ambits with this understanding.

https://www.suunto.com/en-us/Content-pages/digital-service-transition/

The Suunto App Blank Slate

If you’ve only just come to Suunto with a  Suunto 9 and started with the Suunto app, as you should have in that case, you would have noticed only that the app is developing rather quickly and nicely.

The main issue you may notice is that daily HR is not stored and shown anywhere the way that Garmin and Polar and Fitibit and everyone do it for their devices with 24/7 HR tracking.

You can customize the screens of your Spartan or Suunto 9 or Suunto 3 Fitness, though (to increasing extent, if still not completely). By now, you can not only create routes in the app (with some upsides like the ability to switch maps while doing that, and the downside of the small screen), you can also import GPX files to create routes from those. (I will shortly have a video on that.)

It is also possible to see quite a bit of training data and to get some analysis – and more. It’s actually high time we had a closer look at everything the Suunto app offers by now; last year’s video is very dated.

Suunto Partners

Perhaps a main point of the Suunto app, however, is that it is much more open to other platforms and services than anything from Suunto has ever been.

Suunto has deepened a partnership with Strava, recently brought TrainingPeaks syncing straight into the Suunto app, and offers (itself for) many more services and partnerships.

If you already use Strava, especially Strava Premium (okay, Summit, packs, whatever they are calling it right now), for your data storage, analysis, and sharing, then you can just set up the Suunto app to auto-sync there and you get all the data from your (new) Suunto watch there, and presto.

Change to another watch (or brand), sync there with Strava, continue as you have.

Only if you think that a $600 watch should come with an ecosystem of its own maker, that doesn’t seem to be Suunto’s idea anymore. They are working towards an ecosystem based on partnerships, for better or worse:

With what they are doing with Movesense sensors, that seems very interesting. For users who want to use Strava or TrainingPeaks, it’s not bad.

If you wanted your analysis all from Suunto, because you bought a Suunto, then prepare to re-think that, and invest some more.

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20 Comments

  1. Tobias

    “Ambit, Ambit2, M, t3 and t6, and Quest are all out. Frankly, if you still use any of those watches (except maybe an Ambit 2), you are way out of your time” think it’s a bit harsh comment, it’s not about out of time in my opinion but using perfectly working devices as long the hardware is functioning and not decapitating them by shut off background services that are also working perfectly fine, planned obsolence? missing sales on spartans compare to Ambit series? Maybe there is more to this in the back that Suunto don’t want to reveal … moving from an device independent open browser accessible web platform as movescount.com was to a closed app on iOS and Android only with no way to see and review your data with a simpel web browser is a backward move in my opinion…

    • Well, I mean in terms of generations of technology devices: Counting back from the Suunto 9, an Ambit is at least 3 generations of devices (one could count it as 5) back. How many people still use smartphones that are three generations back, six years old? By 2020, make than one more year…

      In terms of current tech, the way people love telling me when they e.g. want Galileo support already, that’s prehistoric.

      Of course, you are also absolutely right. In terms of using devices as long as they work well, not creating their obsolescence, this is a backwards move. Suunto people have hinted at Movescount not being up-to-date in terms of some current tech and/or being too difficult to teach new tricks, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of the decisions were driven more by business than any other considerations.

      • Shaun

        We are still on iPhone 6. We need to stop this thinking of always replacing phones, watches if we want to save the planet.

      • Jools

        Your comparison is wrong. Compare instead with the life span of a Boeing jet, many were built in the 90’s and still operate today. Not to mention the technology that NASA uses, it’s built in the 70’s.

        Mobile phone technology is the odd one here. Who really thinks it’s smart to build a $1000 phone of glass that may break the first time you drop it? Leave out the comparisons to phones.

        • Hmmm, I don’t know. That’s how people would usually compare it, imo. And, well, if the watches still ran on software from the 1970’s (or the websites on pure HTML), hello?

  2. Kathi Baird

    Looks like I will not only be able to use my Ambit 3 Sport, I will loose the past 7 years of data since I do not own a smart phone and my other devices do not support the new app. No matter how I look at this the change will be costly to me.

    • Well, get with it and get a smartphone!

      Seriously: Your other devices are tablets? Or what? (If it’s tablets, it should/could work… or it’s time to tell Suunto not to forget about that.)
      We’ll also have to wait and see when they really retire Movescount and how…

      • Kathi

        My friends think I’m weird, too. Seriously, the tablet is a Samsung Tab 2 with 3.0 Bluetooth and Android 4.0. Also, have an IPod Touch 5. Doesn’t look like it can be upgraded either. Even if I had a Smartphone it would most likely be an older generation. For the reasons you cite I just can’t imagine how Suunto can dump browser support.

  3. Thanks for this post. I’ve been scurrying the web thinking I’m blocked from installing new Suunto App after the dismissal of Movescount. Not too sure if its a good move from Suunto to assume that we are all only using the the app on mobile.. as I use Movescount heavily to track paddle routes on a bigger screen and mouse, correcting as I go which is way easier than on a small smartmobile. Maybe I’d need a tablet to get it to work? But then that’s an additional investment that should not be the solution to my use case.

  4. Would very much like to see a web interface from Suunto.

  5. Geoff Cattrall

    I have been an Ambit 3 user for years. I also spent quite a lot of time programming apps for my Ambit 3 specific to paragliding – which is what I use the watch for most of the time. Decided to ‘upgrade’ to Suunto 9 – and now I learn that not only are those apps that I created not usable on the Suunto 9 (it seems), but it sounds like they will disappear from my Ambit 3 once movescount.com is retired. Not too happy!

    Are you able to confirm… 1) Is it indeed true that it is not possible to write apps for the Suunto 9 using the (rather basic but workable) Suunto programming language and 2) That apps that I have created will stop working on the Ambit 3 this summer when movescount is retired. Also 3) Will it be possible to upload GPX tracks to the Suunto 9 via the Suunto App and follow them during activities, and 4) Is it possible to upload POI’s (waypoints) to the Suunto 9 once movescount is retired?

    Honestly thinking of just returning the watch and getting a Garmin… but looking forward to your response. Thanks! And thanks for the post – it has been hard to get the real ‘lowdown’ on what the transition to the Suunto App and the retirement of movescount.com really means. Suunto just tells you how wonderful it all is grrr…

    • Suunto has just started doing something app-like for the Suunto 9 (with “SuuntoPlus”), but that’s internally coded and thus wouldn’t help you. I also doubt that they’d want to create anything there for paragliding, which is what their watches aren’t recommended for.

      So, the answer to #1 is “indeed true, not possible”.
      #2 is basically also a “true, no longer”. Slight caveat there because an app you leave on the watch should continue to work, probably, but you wouldn’t be able to change it, at the very least.
      #3: GPX to Suunto 9 via the Suunto app are no issue whatsoever; I think I showed the how-to in this video here. (Have been wanting to write blog posts as well, but the time…)
      #4: POIs are not supported as uploads; you can only save a location you are at as a POI. Route waypoints also went AWOL. There have been signs that Suunto will bring back support for them, but that still remains to be seen.

      There’s since been an update re. the Movescount retirement… and it still hasn’t answered all those questions on what will still be possible, what won’t be.

  6. Edu Toro

    First day with a Suunto 9 and I’m already missing Garmin Connect!!!. I love the watch but the apps and web are simply useless. Social media sharing?? I already have that on Strava!…. I want structured workouts that I can transfer to my watch, I want Vo2 max history and development, I want weight control and history…. NOT happy with Suunto app for now. Hoping HUGE improvements

    • This is going to be a bit mean but:
      You begin with structured workouts… which, if you checked what the watch offers, you should know that you don’t get from Suunto. And if you looked around online, you’d find that you will not get those from Suunto. Want structured workouts, get a Garmin. Or Polar or Coros.

      VO2max development/history: That’s in the Suunto app diary. (Second icon at the bottom from the left, which says “Diary” when you open it, then the last icon in the top row; you’ll have to scroll sideways to get to it)

      Weight control: That’s in the app for your scale, not a Suunto thing. Yeah, I know, you can have it in Garmin Connect… and for me, that’s why I don’t like Garmin Connect so much, because it tries to be everything for everyone.

      Different products, different users, different offers…

  7. Scott

    Great news! on a short call with Suunto customer support today, I was informed that a web-based successor to MovesCount is in the works. The agent was non-committal to the release date, but seemed confident a replacement is coming…maybe 2020?

  8. The suunto app is unfortunatelly so buggy that it Almost does not sync with ambit 3 – every time you want to sync, you need to pair And unpair the watch a couple of times. This makes the watch almost useless. Been a fan, now I’d never recommend Suunto to anyone.

    • The Suunto app on my phone, and used with Suunto 9 or 7, has close to zero bugs. The Ambit 3 is old, and syncing often has issues because of the various phone models, as well.

    • Here also never ever had any bugs or problems.

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