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Microsoft Band gets more app integrations, smarter coaching

Microsoft Band gets more app integrations, smarter coaching

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Microsoft is today announcing an update to its Band wearable that adds integration with bike-tracking apps Strava and MapMyRide, as well as further insights based on the information captured by the Band's various sensors. The Strava and MapMyRide integration follows the addition of a Bike Tile that came in February and lets users share their tracked rides to those networks.

The new insights are visible on the Microsoft Health Web Dashboard, a website that lets users review their activity captured by the band. The Health platform can now provide comparisons with an average of other users based on height and weight, so owners can easily see how they stack up. (Microsoft notes that this data is anonymized and is used in an opt-in program, so those concerned about privacy issues can choose not to participate.) The website will also show users how well their body is restoring overnight during sleep and their fitness improvements over time. Microsoft says that the Band is now capable of measuring VO2 Max, the maximum volume of oxygen used during an exercise, based on heart rate information. And the system can now analyze what day and time of day workouts are most effective for each user, so Band wearers can plan their exercise routines accordingly.

The Health dashboard will now tell you the best day and time to work out

In addition to the new app integrations and fitness insights, Microsoft says that the Microsoft Health app for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone will soon be updated to support the step-counting sensors already present in many smartphones. Users will then be able to take advantage of the Health platform's insights and analysis without having to purchase a Band to do so.

While these additions aren't massive and don't address many of the hardware issues with the Microsoft Band, they do show that the company is committed to making this more of a platform than a single product, and it's open to working with other providers in this industry. Microsoft Health still doesn't integrate with Apple's HealthKit or Google's Fit platforms, two other major fitness platforms that promise many of the same things, but Matt Barlow, Microsoft's general manager of new devices, says the company is certainly open to working with any service or device. There isn't a Microsoft Health app yet for the Apple Watch or Android Wear, but given how open the company has been with the platform so far, it would be foolish to rule it out at this point.

Update, 10:43AM: The article has been updated to clarify that the comparative insights are based on an aggregate of users, not specific ones.