Nearly four months after its release, the Microsoft Band and its companion Health app are getting their first major update. Microsoft's fitness tracker is getting a number of new features, including a new Bike Tile which optimizes the Band while biking, a quick read feature that lets you glance at your notifications, and surprisingly a virtual keyboard on the Band which you can use to reply to texts, if you're using Windows Phone 8.1. Microsoft has also launched a web dashboard for Microsoft Health and will allow MapMyFitness users to sync with the service.
My fav feature in the Feb update is the Virtual keyboard...replying to texts from my #MicrosoftBand for WP 8.1. pic.twitter.com/aFIQMjO3AW— Paul Britton (@paulstorms) February 23, 2015
Microsoft Band now has a keyboard
Replying to texts on a 1.4-inch screen seems insane, but Microsoft says its Word Flow technology will allow you to type "with minimal errors." If that fails or becomes too frustrating, Microsoft has added voice dictation to the Band as well. The best update announced today may be the Bike Tile. Tracking bike rides — especially indoors — can be troublesome for just about every fitness band, but Microsoft says the Bike Tile can handle it, tracking both outdoor and stationary rides. Using the Bike Tile also optimizes the heart rate monitor for your ride, activates elevation tracking, and displays your speed and how long it will take you to recover from your ride.
The new Health web dashboard gives you access to the full slate of information available in the mobile apps, now with a bit more space. All of your sleep, exercise, and guided workouts data is now available on any browser. Along with MyMapFitness, the Microsoft Band will also integrate to Microsoft HealthVault, via the Health app. HealthVault can organize your complete heath information, which can be shared with health care providers if you choose. Workout and sleep data from the Band can be automatically sent to HealthVault.
Microsoft has also introduced an SDK for the Band to allow third-party apps on the fitness tracker. Still in developer preview, the SDK will allow developers to get data directly from the Band's sensors, which should make for some interesting apps, but it remains to be seen how many developers will support the fitness tracker. The updates to Microsoft Band and Health will be rolling out over the next few days.
Update: February 24th, 10:25AM: Clarified that the virtual keyboard and voice replies on the Microsoft Band can only be used with Windows Phone 8.1.