A web dashboard, new bike tile, better integration with health software and more insightful data are just some of the new features available with the new update to the Microsoft Band.
Microsoft just launched a major update to the Microsoft Band–a smart band that tracks everything from steps and calories burned to emails and meetings–to make the device even more useful to you.
This update is among a series of updates to the Microsoft Band that will give users deeper insights, more fitness and productivity features and greater integration with other applications and services to better achieve their goals. That’s not all: If you’re a developer, check out the new Microsoft Band SDK Developer Preview.
The Band update will roll out over the next few days. Here are the new features:
Microsoft Health Web Dashboard: The new Microsoft Health Web Dashboard is a powerful complement to the Microsoft Health phone app. It gives you not only a bigger canvas for your fitness activity, but more information on what your data means, including new observations, extended data views and more detailed charts that complement what is already available via the mobile app.
For instance, after signing into the dashboard with your Microsoft ID, tap the Sleep icon. You’ll see a multi-colored bar chart of your last recorded nightly snooze. The light-purple bars connote “light sleep” and the dark-purple bars are “restful sleep.” The red bars show the times you woke up throughout the night. Scroll down a bit further to get definitions for those terms.
Virtual Keyboard & Voice Replies: If you have a Lumia or other Windows Phone, you’re in luck. The Virtual Keyboard & Voice Replies feature is exclusive to Windows Phone 8.1 users. Now, you can reply to text messages in two ways.
The first is to use the Band’s virtual keyboard (yes, you read that right), which is equipped with Word Flow technology for minimal errors. The second is to launch Cortana on your Band and dictate a response.
Bike Tile: If you’re a cyclist, you’re going to love the new Bike Tile feature. Whether you’re indoors or out, you can track and analyze distance, duration, speed (average and current) calorie burn and elevation gain and loss.
If you’re on the roads or trails, activate GPS on your Band to map your ride, which you can share via email. And, when the bike tile is active, the heart-rate monitor is optimized for biking activities.
Once you’re done two-wheeling, the Band will also give you an estimated recovery time. See all of your biking activity on the Microsoft Health mobile app; integration with the new web dashboard is coming soon.
Quick Read: This new feature shows text messages, emails and other notifications in a large font size, with words coming in rapid succession so you don’t have to manually scroll on your Band. This is a great feature if you’re in the midst of a workout and don’t want to pause to get important messages.
More Guided Workouts: The update also comes with five spin-related Guided Workouts. Featuring a mix of high-intensity and duration workouts, they are: Indoor Bike Tabata Sprints, Indoor Bike Hour of Sweat, Indoor Bike Total Body, Indoor Bike Pyramid, and Indoor Bike Intervals.
Integration with Microsoft HealthVault and MapMyFitness. Microsoft HealthVault lets you store and organize all of your health care information, including records from your doctor, in one place. This integration means that the health and fitness data collected by the Band and the Microsoft Health app can be automatically uploaded to your HealthVault account.
Why is this helpful? This data may be useful diagnostic data for your healthcare provider, giving a more holistic view of your overall health.
In addition, you can now sync your Band with the MapMyFitness app, which records your runs, gym workouts, and other fitness activity. To link a Microsoft HealthVault and/or MapMyFitness account to Microsoft Health data, go to “Connected Apps” in Microsoft Health’s menu.
User feedback essential to Band updates
Since the Band was introduced a few months ago, the Band team has been carefully monitoring feedback from customers, partners and the media, and these new features reflect their suggestions, said Matt Barlow, Microsoft’s general manager of New Devices Marketing.
“While the response has been overwhelmingly positive, we are continuing to listen to our customers and make improvements based on their feedback, he said.
“This feedback is at the heart of the decisions we make, and today we’re pleased to take our first steps in launching new features and functionality.”
The Microsoft Band ($199.99) is available in Microsoft stores across the United States. If you have a Band, we’re eager to hear what you think of these new features. Please share them in the comments section below.