Microsoft this morning issued the first major software update for its 3 month-old Microsoft Band fitness tracker and smartwatch — including a new tile for cyclists and a much-anticipated web dashboard that lets users track their activity in greater detail than on the existing Microsoft Health apps.
It’s a much needed refresh for Microsoft’s $200 wearable device, addressing some of the issues raised by early users and reviewers. Microsoft 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, slated for release in the spring.
Along with the latest Microsoft Band updates, the company today released a preview of a software development kit (SDK) for making third-party apps that work on the device.
The new bike tile offers an alternative to the Band’s existing features for runners. Tuned for cyclists, it includes a heart rate monitor, elevation tracking, GPS, speed analysis and is also integrated into the new Microsoft Health web dashboard, which is available here.
Other new features included additional guided workouts, and a “Quick Read” option that displays incoming notifications in a large font size, showing words in rapid succession, eliminating the need to scroll. Microsoft has also integrated the Microsoft Band with MapMyFitness and Microsoft HealthVault.
After experiencing shortages around the holidays, Microsoft says the Band is now available in its retail stores across the country. It’s not currently listed as available online. I’ve been testing a Microsoft Band off and on since its release, and I’ll post an update after trying out these new features.