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I’m doing this totally backwards. A week ago I announced on social media that I’d finally gotten my hands on a review unit of the Microsoft Band. I wasn’t even trying to get a review unit initially; the Band was supposed to be my husband’s birthday gift to me way back in October. But after stalking a couple of Microsoft stores and the website for months with no luck, I happily accepted a Band to review.
I was going to post about my first week wearing it, but today there was a huge update to the Band, so I’m going to write about that instead. If you don’t have a Band yet and are curious, I’ll be writing that other post in a few days.
All but the two Text Reply updates are available for all users. The Text Reply updates are only for those using Windows Phone 8.1 and Cortana.
So, on to the updates…
First, there is now a website where you can see all of your Band info (before you could only access that info on your phone, or using third-party apps to download the info, but that route wasn’t pretty). The site is good, from what I’ve seen so far.
Go to the new dashboard and you’ll see something like this:
You can look at daily stats, or weekly and monthly summaries:
And of course for exercise sessions, you can see your stats, and if your Band’s GPS was on you can see a map of your route. (I only have one run on my Band so far, but it was a half marathon, which makes up for today’s step count.)
So that’s all pretty great. I’d rather look at those things on my computer than on my phone.
Now for the updates to the Band itself…
When you get a text, Facebook message, or email, you can either scroll through it, or press the action button (the little arrow near the action button will be flashing to remind you) and each word will show in succession – a much easier way to read the text.
Unfortunately, emails still don’t appear in full, which is a bummer. I’m hoping that changes soon.
Keyboard Reply To Texts
When you get a text on your band the only options for replying used to be pre-written texts that you set up on your phone. Now, if you’re a Windows Phone 8.1 user, you have two more choices.
Swipe the text up and you can press a “reply” button, where you will see new choices. On the left will be a little keyboard icon. Press that and you get this:
Now, it might seem ridiculous to type on a keyboard that small. And you’re not going to write a soliloquy. But I’ve been using it today and it’s really good! The little keyboard seems to use the same word flow technology from the Windows Phones, which predicts what word you’re trying to type and makes the area around the next predicted letters bigger. In other words, if the keyboard thinks your next letter is going to be a “k”, it won’t let you hit “j” by mistake.
You can swipe the keyboard right to choose letters and symbols, or to exit. When you’re done typing your message you can swipe left to see what you’ve typed. Pressing on a word lets you choose alternate words or delete. When you’re happy with your message, you press the action button to send.
Voice Reply To Texts
Another new choice for replying to texts on Windows Phone 8.1 is through Cortana’s voice recognition. You’ll see the circular Cortana icon after you press “reply.” You speak your message into the Band, and then you can send it or change it, inserting new words with the keyboard or pressing on words to make other choices. Since Cortana’s voice recognition is pretty awesome, this is the way to go if you’re in a place where you can talk into your Band.
New Bike Tile
Last for this update, there is now a Bike Tile. You can access it on your phone’s Microsoft Health app and add it to your Band like you would any other tile. You have a choice to turn GPS on or not, so I’m assuming that the info will include similar maps and breakdowns to the Run Tile. I haven’t had a chance to try it out yet since it’s in the single digits here in Brooklyn.
All in all, some exiting updates. I’m really enjoying the Band and I’ll give a full write-up of my first week impressions in a few days.