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The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro has an overlooked Route tile feature. Here's how to use it

Routes lets you experience guided walks, hikes, bike rides, and more, but the setup process requires some work. Here's the easy way to do it.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer
Galaxy Watch 5 Pro Route tile
Matthew Miller/ZDNET

So the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro grabbed your attention with its massive battery and extensive fitness features, and now you have this big beautiful puck on your wrist. As you swipe through the available tiles, you notice a new one you have never seen before on previous smartwatches, called Route.

Once you select the Route tile, you will find there is nothing there, and it appears to be a tile with little value. But in fact, it's a great resource. 

Review: Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro review: Best wearable for Android fans

Strangely, Samsung hasn't done much to help you through the process of getting GPX files onto your watch or really understanding what to do with the Route tile, but that's why we are here today. GPX, or GPS Exchange Format File, is a file type that contains geographic info such as tracks, routes, and waypoints.

With the latest Watch 5 Pro and Samsung Health updates, the company added a new method for getting routes onto your watch and it may be the easiest method yet.

How to set up the Route tile from the Samsung Health app

With the latest updates to Samsung Health and the Watch 5 Pro, there is a very simple way to create routes and have them sync automatically to your wearable. The major caveat with this method is that you must have already used this route on a supported activity and had it synced through Samsung Health.

If you have previous hiking, cycling, running, or walking exercises that you want to turn into routes to follow on your Watch 5 Pro, follow these simple steps.

1. Open Samsung Health app

Samsung phones come with Samsung Health installed by default, so start by launching the app. You will need the Exercise tile shown on the Home tab of Samsung Health. Tap to view your exercise history to see all of the past exercises you synced to Samsung Health.

2. Tap on your desired exercise

Routes Tile support is now provided for hiking, cycling, running, and walking. Select one of these exercises and the detailed history of that exercise will appear.

3. Saving Routes

Tap the three-dot menu icon on the upper right corner of this exercise history screen and then choose to Save route. That's it! The route will then sync to your watch and be available to follow from the Route Tile.

Also: Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic vs. Watch 5 Pro: Which is best for you?

Note there is also an option to Share route as a GPX file so you could do that and share with others or save and follow the longer import process below.

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

How to set up the Route tile with GPX imports

So, how do you get GPX files and then have them show up to use on your Galaxy Watch 5 Pro if you did not previously perform the activity on the same path you want to repeat? Let me show you.

Galaxy Watch 5 Pro on wrist showing a route

The Route feature indicates an upcoming turn.

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

1. Create a GPX file

The first thing you are going to need is a GPX file for the location you plan to hike or bike. You can try searching online, but you will quickly realize that a third-party service subscription is required to create GPX files. Trailforks is a fairly affordable subscription with GPX files for popular hikes. 

Also: These One UI 5 features are coming to Galaxy Watches soon

Personally, I am a Strava subscriber, and I like that I am not restricted to routes that others have created for limited hikes and rides. Strava is also a massive social network for those who want to share their fitness goals and progress with others.

2. Navigate to your hike/bike location

On Strava, use the search option or scroll around the map to get to the location where you want to go on a hike or bike ride with your Galaxy Watch 5 Pro. Zoom in on the map to cover your entire desired route, as it will make it easier to create the route.

3. Create the route

Click on the map to designate the starting point, and then click away to define your intended route. As you click and drop waypoints on the route, the finish-line checkered dot will move out to the last place you clicked. 

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You can pull the waypoints around to match the exact route you want to follow and use the tools in the upper right to edit and refine your route. There are options on the left side of the Strava route creation website too, so explore this as you create your route.

4. Save the route

When you are satisfied with your route, click the Save button in the upper right. A save dialog box appears where you can give your route a name, and I highly recommend naming it something you will understand and be able to read on your Watch 5 Pro display. 

You can add a route description, select a road or trail, and make it visible as a private route or public route for others to use.

5. Export and send the GPX file

After saving successfully, the route will appear in your Strava Dashboard. Choose the Export GPX button and then save that file somewhere on your computer. You then need to get it to the smartphone connected to your Watch 5 Pro, so I simply have been emailing them, since they are rather small files.

How to load the route onto your Watch 5 Pro

The steps above were provided to help you create custom GPX files, but in some cases, you may have readily accessible GPX files. Either way, start by getting those GPX files onto your connected smartphone and then following the next steps to get them onto your watch.

1. Open Samsung Health app

Open the Samsung Health app and navigate to the Exercise tile. There, tap the three-line menu and a pop-up with all of the supported workouts will appear. GPX files work best for walking, running, hiking, and biking.

Samsung Health app

The Samsung Health app is key to converting the GPX file into a usable Route.

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

3. Navigating to the Routes menu

Tap the menu icon (three vertical dots) on the right and choose Routes. You may see a tutorial screen the first time you do this that shows About Routes and provides you with an Import GPX button. There are also a few sample routes available, but they may not be anywhere near your actual location.

4. Select and import a GPX file

Tap the box with an arrow in the top right corner. Navigate to the file folder where you saved your GPX file(s). My phone has both Download and GPX folders, so this is where I store them. Your default location may vary.

Also: You basically don't need to charge this Garmin smartwatch

Select the file and tap Done. A map of the route will be shown, along with some key data about the route. You can also select to reverse the route and then click the Save option.

5. Open up the Route tile on your Watch 5 Pro

Your saved routes will now sync over to your Galaxy Watch 5 Pro and appear in the Route tile on the watch. You can sync multiple routes on the watch and then swipe through to select the one you want to follow. 

When you are in the location of the route, tap the Start button and follow the guidance provided by the watch.

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