Microsoft may actually be paying more attention to its Band fitness wearable, if Thursday's update is any indication.
Among Microsoft's latest updates to the Band 2, the most interesting addition could be a “What’s New” tile, which will pop up when Band updates become available. It’s a tacit commitment to future updates, which would be a positive change for the neglected Band.
"The tile will automatically appear on your band when new updates are available," said Microsoft. "Tap the tile to learn about great new features and functionality."
The other new features in this updates include music controls. Because the Band 2 works with Android and iOS devices as well as Windows Phones, they'll work with any music app that can be controlled through Bluetooth (not just its own Groove Music). The controls, however, appear to be limited to just play/pause, forward and back, and volume control—not anything more sophisticated, such as changing radio stations in Slacker, for example.
Microsoft will also offer users a reminder to get up and move around, as a way to keep the blood pumping. The Apple Watch already does this, but it’s a simple feature that can also be turned off at night. And if you’re looking for something a bit more hardcore, you can also now select your preferred exercise under the Exercise tile, rather than sticking to a generic workout.
Why this matters: We called the Band 2 an excellent fitness band, but a second-rate smartwatch. Many of its users call it a fitness band first, with some tacked-on smartwatch capabilities. Whatever your perspective, Microsoft’s history of improvements has been characterized by the “general bug fixes and improvements” scattered across its update history, without any indication that they were significant. The "What's New" tile could signal that future Band updates will be more noteworthy.