With the launch of the Apple Watch just a couple days away, Microsoft is aiming to generate new momentum for its own wearable device.
The Redmond company just announced a wide-ranging software update for its Microsoft Band fitness tracker, including integration with third-party cycling apps and new ways of analyzing fitness data in the Microsoft Health online dashboard.
In addition, the company says it will expand the reach of the Microsoft Health smartphone apps — connect them to the sensors in Android Phones, iPhones and Windows Phones to track activity for people who don’t own Microsoft’s wearable device or any other fitness tracker. Previously the Microsoft Health apps worked solely in conjunction with the Microsoft Band to collect data.
The new capability, to be available in the coming weeks, is part of an effort by Microsoft to broaden the capabilities of the overall Microsoft Health platform, which launched last year with the $199 Microsoft Band as its first flagship device.
As part of the Microsoft Band software update, the company says the device will integrate with two popular cycling apps, MapMyRide and Strava, allowing cyclists to connect their bands to compare their rides and share routes with other people using those third-party apps.
That capability will be available starting on Thursday — a day before the scheduled launch of Apple’s new wearable device.
“Customers want even more integration with additional third party fitness partners,” says Matt Barlow, a Microsoft general manager, in a statement. “We know they have existing relationships with other apps, services and devices outside of Microsoft Health and Microsoft Band, and they’re looking for new ways to integrate their data, ensuring it will all live and work together in one single spot.”
Microsoft is also updating the Microsoft Health Web Dashboard with features including the ability for users to compare their exercise stats with other users of similar height and weight. Additional data to be added includes sleep recovery, fitness progress, oxygen volume used during exercise, and detailed historical stats for advanced analysis of run and workout data over time.
The web dashboard updates will be available as soon as April 27.
This is part of Microsoft’s plan to release regular software updates for Microsoft Band and Microsoft Health. The company is playing catch-up against established fitness trackers from companies including Fitbit and Jawbone, and facing the prospect of looming competition from the Apple Watch.