At the beginning of February Microsoft delivered a pretty significant update to the Microsoft Band 2, bringing new features like workout sharing, weight entry, and GPS Power Saver. Then, the company pushed out a second February update last week that brought even more new capabilities including Golf updates, Guided Workout Distance and even better social sharing of workouts and accomplishments. And, then on Tuesday, another update rolled out. If you blinked, you might have missed that one. It wasn’t a significant feature update, but rather a firmware update to fix some of the bugs introduced in the previous two.
Some bugs still exist, particularly the social sharing piece on Windows Phone 8.1 devices, where you have to attempt to share several times before it actually works. That will be fixed soon, but will require another Microsoft Health app update.
The one feature, though, that has been talked about the most is the Guided Workout Distance. This feature has been high on the list of customer requests and it’s great to see Microsoft take feedback so seriously. For those just tuning in, prior to the mid-February update, you could develop Guided Workouts that included distance goals in Circuit activities, but those activities would not be added to your overall distance stats in the Microsoft Health dashboard. Additionally, the Band would do its best to estimate your distance goal, making your workout a lot less accurate.
With the last actual feature update, Microsoft has now provided GPS capability for Guided Workouts. What this means is that your circuit workouts that include distance as an activity goal, GPS tracking will be available to detect and report more accurately.
The feature is a very welcome addition for Microsoft Band owners, however, it’s not a clearly evident option on the wearable. The GPS option ONLY shows up if you have synched a Guided Workout to your Band that has distance as a completion point.
EXTRA: For a ready-made distance-based circuit workout to test with, check out the Fartlek Workout in the Microsoft Band shared resource.
Here’s an example of the GPS page that just “shows up” when you have a distance-based Guided Workout synched to your Microsoft Band:
If your synched workout does not have distance as a completion criterion, the GPS page will not be available. Additionally, whenever you kick-off a Guided Workout that contains a distance completion point, the Band will prompt you (ask you) to turn on GPS. This both ensures that you don’t forget and also gives you the option to keep it off should you be stuck inside on a treadmill for that particular activity.
ONE BIG NOTE: Using GPS for Guided Workouts only helps track distance - it does NOT produce a map of your workout like the regular Run and Bike activities do. Sorry. Maybe in a future update.