I have been using my Microsoft Band for a few weeks now and after my initial excitement I have got into a routine with it and really like the device. I expected my main use of the band would be for notifications but over the last few weeks I have walked for miles with the band tracking my route. Since I started using the Microsoft Band I have found a few things can make your experience with the Band much better and I thought I would put them together here.
If you are going to use the Band for notification (and why wouldn’t you) you will want to improve the quality and reduce the quantity of your email notifications. With the Band there are a couple of ways of tackling it.
Use VIP Lists.
On the Microsoft Health app you can set up the Band so it will only notify you of email from your personal VIP list. You can find this setting in the Manage Tiles section of the app, then the Mail settings where you can select up to 10 email address that it will alert you from with others email being blocked. This is great if you have a small selection of contacts you want to keep in touch with and get a lot of other email, personally I prefer the other approach of cleaning up my mail box so I am happy to get all my email notifications on the Band. I unsubscribed from old mailing lists and blocked emails I don’t want. So having spent some time cleaning up my email I now have a clean mailbox and all my mail notifications on the band.
Another handy feature is the ability to be able to quickly reply to a text message from the Band with a pre-set response so you don’t have to pull your phone out of your pocket for a simple message acknowledgement. Under the Messages setting on the Microsoft Health app you can set four SMS quick responses, so when you get a text message you can pick from one of the quick responses. Very handy if you are out running with the Band and you want to quickly reply without stopping.
There is also a Quick Respond options for phone calls. You can create four messages and when a phone call comes in you can select one of the four messages to be sent as an SMS message back to the caller, so you could have “I will call you back later” or “I am in a meeting” , again saving you getting your phone out of your pocket.
Quick Replies only work on the Android and Windows Phone versions of the app and not the iOS version.
Cortana on Windows Phone
If you are on Windows Phone you get Cortana integration, just hold down the action button on the Band and then you can tell Cortana what to do, things like make a call, shuffle your music or set a reminder. There is also a Cortana tile on the Band and if you pin Cortana to your phone’s Start screen you get Cortana updates on the Band, things like stocks and news alerts. You don’t get alert style notification like you do for email or twitter, you have to actually tap on the tile to get the info which is the right way of doing it in my opinion.
Windows desktop app
While there isn’t a Windows Store app for viewing your Band info there is a Band Sync desktop app. The app is designed for to be able to sync the data from the Band to the cloud without needing a phone. It also displays the status of the Band and checks for updates to the Band’s firmware. When I charge my Band via a PC the app pops up and displays the status (including battery remaining) of the Band. The desktop app is available from the Microsoft Download Center.
Speaking of apps another tips is that you can install the Microsoft Health app on multiple devices and it will download your data from the cloud. You don’t have to pair up the Band with the app to be able to view your activity history. So you could have the Band paired with your Windows Phone and install the app on your iPad or Android tablet to view activity data.
Microsoft say you should get two days battery life from the Band which is just about right but if you start using GPS or Watch Mode (Which leaves the display on all the time) you may find you get less two days. I have found the best plan is to charge it once a day and I charge it while I am sat at my desk. It is probably best if you get into a charging habit so you don’t run out of charge. Microsoft have a set of tips for extending battery life of the Band which includes things like turning off GPS while running which you can read on Microsoft site.
There are still a lot of features I would like to see added to the Band and the associated apps but so far I really like the Microsoft Band, I find some of the info like sleep data fascinating and it is helping me be a little healthier. Now all Microsoft need to do is release the Band in the UK! If you have any more tips let me know.