Microsoft’s Band may not have been the greatest first attempt at a wearable — our own Jeremy Kaplan found wearing it “a labor in itself” — but its position as reference hardware for Microsoft’s Health platform makes it a very useful device for the company. Lucky for owners, that also means Microsoft will likely continue support for the band.
Recently, Microsoft announced the Band will soon integrate with cycling apps Strava and MapMyRide. In a related announcement, new ways to view metrics on the Web are coming to Microsoft Health, and the mobile apps for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone will start tracking steps.
Microsoft added a Bike tile and cycle tracking to the Band in February, but that data lived within the company’s ecosystem. Strava and MapMyRide are cross-platform apps, making it a little easier to measure, share, and compare two-wheeled adventures among devices and other users. Microsoft says support for those apps is coming on April 23.
Related: Microsoft Band Review
A slew of improvements are in tow for the Web-based Microsoft Health dashboard. For starters, it’s getting a new data point: VO2, which is the maximum oxygen volume used during workouts and an important indicator of cardiovascular fitness. Microsoft says the Band’s heart rate data is granular enough to extrapolate VO2 without the need for more cumbersome, less portable equipment.
If you’re the competitive sort, a new “comparative insights” portal will show how your steps, sleep, workout frequency, and calorie burn measures up to that of other users in your height and weight range. Not to worry about the privacy implications — Microsoft says the data is anonymized, and you can opt-out entirely if you so choose.
Microsoft Health is also gaining historical data. You’ll be able to see sleep metrics like the number of wake-ups in the course of a night, sleep efficiency, and how effectively you’re making use of that limited weeknight shut-eye. On the exercise side of things, you’ll be able to look back as far as five weeks, and drill down to a specific time of day to see what adjustments, if any, you need to make to your fitness routine.
That’s all fine and good if you own a Microsoft Band, but what if you already own hardware that can track activity? Microsoft’s showing those folks some love with an update to the Microsoft Health app.
Scheduled to land “in the coming weeks,” the iOS, Android, and Windows Phone app will track steps and calorie burn on supported devices. Those capabilities won’t extend to Android Wear or the Apple Watch, nor will they tie into platform-specific fitness services like Google Fit or Apple’s HealthKit. However, there’s still hope for tighter integration — the company considers Health an “open platform” designed to work with “services already in use.” That definition very much could encompass software and hardware offerings from third parties.