Microsoft’s health tracking device is getting its first big update since launching in October. CNET says the Microsoft Band now has an activity tile specifically for cycling and a small keyboard for responding to messages from your wrist. The company also debuted data on its Microsoft Health website, a dashboard for viewing activities tracked by the Band, and a developer SDK preview for the device.
If you’ve used any major activity tracking services online before, the new Health site will look familiar. It takes the data from your Band, which is synchronized to [company]Microsoft[/company] servers, and shows a nice graphical view of your exercise. Here’s an example of a run where I wore the Band, and it tracked my heart rate as well as my route, pace, distance and time.
Clicking between the three icons at the top — the runner, heart and mountains — shows different data: Pace and distance, for example, or elevation. All of this information is already available on the companion smartphone app but it’s nice to have a view available in the browser. I don’t see a way to export the data, unfortunately. However, Microsoft says the Band does integrate with MapMyFitness.
Also new to the Band itself is a cycling tile, which offers the same types of data tracking as running but, of course, ties that data to bike rides. And cyclists will get the option of using workouts specific to their activity; the Band already has downloadable workouts for other exercises.
Lastly, the Band is getting a way to better respond to incoming messages from a Windows powered smartphone: A virtual keyboard and voice replies. The little keyboard is based on Microsoft’s Word Flow technology used on its Windows Phone handsets, so word prediction and swiping out characters is included.
For those that prefer to use their voice or find the Band’s screen a bit too small to type on, dictated responses are available as well. This, too, is a Windows Phone 8.1 feature only though since it relies on Cortana; if you’re using the Microsoft Band with an [company]Apple[/company] iPhone or [company]Google[/company] Android handset, you won’t be able to reply with spoken responses.