First I have to say I am a big fan of the Microsoft Band having had mine since the Band was first launched last year and while it’s a great device there is still a lot Microsoft need to do with it. Today Microsoft are finally pushing out an update that is going to improve the functionality of the device. The headline changes to the Band are a new Bike app, new guided workouts, a virtual keyboard and a preview of the developer SDK.
The changes are delivered via the Microsoft Health app which its self has had a couple of changes. First I noticed the fonts have been shrunk down on my Lumia 1520 so you can see more information on the screen at once and it has the new Bike Tile settings.
The new Bike Title is an app very much like the Run or Workout app but it specifically tailored for logging your bike session. I know a few bike enthusiast that were put off by the lack of bike features of the Band and the new app should make the Band a great option for cyclists wanting to track their workouts. There are also new workouts for the Bike app as well as additional guided workouts for running and exercising.
There is a new onscreen keyboard for replying to text messages, in fact reading messages is a lot easier with the update. You can now read emails and not just see the subject, it flashes up one word at a time with a large font which sounds odd but actually works well.
I didn’t think an onscreen keyboard on the Band would work due to its small screen but it is actually pretty useable and saves you getting your phone out if you want to quickly reply to a message, which is one of the things I really like about the Band in general. You type the reply with the onscreen letter by letter and then it you can see what you have written and correct it if needed.
Another change is an official developer SDK, there are already some great 3rd party apps for the Microsoft Band for doing things like changing backdrops, accessing sensors and exporting data so an official SDK may see even more apps released.
While the update is welcome there is still a lot of work Microsoft needs to do with the Microsoft Band, especially around predicting health issues using the massive amount of data is currently collects.
The Windows Phone app is available in the US Windows Phone Store, the Android version in the Google Play Store and the iOS version in the iTunes Store.
– Bike Tile: Lets you track your heart rate and calorie burn. Outdoor rides will also track speed, distance, and elevation.
– Quick Read: Helps you read notifications sent to your Microsoft Band quickly. A large font size and the rapid succession of words enable you to read messages while in motion and without having to scroll.
– Virtual keyboard: Reply to text messages directly from Microsoft Band if you’re using Windows Phone 8.1 GDR1.
– MapMyFitness Integration: Effortlessly save and upload your workout data to MapMyFitness.
– HealthVault Integration: Easily share your Microsoft Health workout and sleep data to your HealthVault account.
– Bug Fixes