Like most of my team here at Windows Central, I've had a Microsoft Band for over a week now. Which is a good amount of time to assess Redmond's new wearable and start to figure out it's strengths and weaknesses. There's no doubt about it, we love our Band, but there are a few things we'd like to see improved on both the hardware and software front for Band. Here's our list of things we'd like to see improved with the Microsoft Band.
- Related: Microsoft Band unboxing and hands-on
Custom 'Guided Workouts'
Yesterday I gave you all a quick guide to Guided Workouts with the Microsoft Band. Guided Workouts are probably my favorite fitness feature with the Microsoft Band, and I would love to see Microsoft improve upon their foundation. One way to do that is to allow users to create their custom workouts for Band to guide. The list of workouts currently available is of decent size and should satisfy most users, but it would be great to add the workout you wanted to Microsoft Band.
Make it social
Microsoft may not want to compete with Fitbit, Jawbone and other fitness companies head-to-head, but we still want to see some features from those guys inside the Microsoft Band. One thing we really like about Fitbit is the social aspect of fitness tracking. You can compete with friends on leaderboards for things like most steps taken. Microsoft doesn't even need to build a new social network with Band to pull this off. All they need to do is utilize their most popular social network - Xbox Live. Obviously we don't need our Xbox One dashboard populated with health information, but we've got Gamertags that need to be associated with our Band.
Apparently a little too late for the Microsoft Band you're already wearing, but a scratch resistant display is a must for the next hardware revision to Band. The display should be a lot harder to scratch. Providing a screen protector to anyone buying a Microsoft Band right now is just a bandage to a problem that shouldn't exist. The Band is meant to be worn 24/7 and should only be off your wrist when it's charging, or you're taking a shower. Plus you're meant to workout with this thing on your wrist. It's easy to baby it the first week you have it, but at some point the Band is going to get into some sticky situations with hard objects. Scratching is inevitable. Let's make a scratch resistant display out-of-the-box next time Microsoft.
Better MyFitnessPal integration
Daniel brought this point up, and I totally agree. There should be better integration between Microsoft Band/Health/HealthVault and MyFitnessPal (and other health services). Right now Daniel and I have a Fitbit Aria wireless scale synced to our Fitbit account, which then syncs to MyFitnessPal and then which finally syncs to Microsoft Health. However, your weight doesn't sync across to Microsoft's services - it's just a field you have to enter right now manually. We'd love to see better integration between these services.
So I touched up on Xbox integration above when talking about social features like leaderboards, but there's tremendous potential with Microsoft Band and Xbox. The Band should tap into a lot more Microsoft products, like Xbox Fitness. Kinect can read your heart rate, but it can't understand it as well the Band can. There's one combination right there.
You probably listen to music when you workout like I do. It'd be great to keep your Windows Phone (or iPhone or Android) in your pocket and just use the Band for basic music controls like volume, pause, play, skip, rewind and others. We've heard that music controls were present in earlier versions of Band, but didn't make the final cut. I know I'd use that feature when working out.
Heart rate for other apps
Microsoft Band is an excellent product for tracking workouts and runs. However, it's not ready to kill dedicated running apps just yet. Windows Phone apps like Track Runner and Runtastic should be able to use the heart rate data provided by Microsoft Band when you use those apps on runs. Speaking of apps.
The Starbucks app available on the Microsoft Band is simple, but useful if you frequent the coffee chain. I'd love for Microsoft to work with more developers and partners to produce a few more apps for Band. For quality control, they can limit it to certain partners, like they currently do with Xbox One apps, for the time being. But somewhere down the road we'd like to see third-party developers given the opportunity to innovate with Microsoft Band in ways we can't think of just yet.
What are some improvements you'd like to see Microsoft make with the Band?
Don't forget to join our Microsoft Band forums if you already own one!