Microsoft developed Band to be a fitness device with some smartwatch features, whereas, other devices are a smartwatch first with some fitness features haphazardly thrown in. In my opinion, the harder piece is fitness and in this area Microsoft has pretty much gotten it right. Anyone can build a clock. There’s more to do, but Band (particularly the 2nd version), is on the right path.
But, that’s not to say that the smartwatch features of Microsoft Band are anything to be scoffed at, just that they are really secondary. However, just like any plain old smartwatch, the Band’s Clock tile contains what you’d expect to be there: Reminder, Timer, and Stopwatch.
Microsoft Band can track any type of activity you might want to monitor by heart rate and active moments. You do this through either the Exercise tile or the Guided Exercise tile (Running, Biking, and Golf have their own distinct tiles). With the December update to Band 2, you can now use the online tool (in the Microsoft Health Dashboard) to create, customize, and share your self-created workouts. Here’s a couple articles to learn more about this feature:
- Create Your Own Workouts Using the Improved Microsoft Health Dashboard and Microsoft Band
- Using Microsoft Band to Create Circuit and Interval Training Workouts
The Guide Workouts are great, because they walk you through an entire exercise routine from start to finish. It’s like having a personal fitness coach on your wrist. Selecting just the right workout, you can choose something that fits into your schedule. Have 20 minutes to kill? Find a 20-minute workout and get started.
For those who might not be able to locate a guided workout to suit their needs, or can’t find the right exercises in Microsoft’s current exercise database, there’s the Exercise tile (non-guided). In the December update, Microsoft delivered the ability to create custom activities for the Exercise tile. This was an awesome addition for me. I regularly log activity minutes boxing or doing martial arts. I’ve added these to my Exercise tile options so they are recorded as such in the Microsoft Health Dashboard. But, unlike the Guided Exercise tile, the Exercise tile keeps monitoring until you decide it’s time to quit. This makes it difficult to know when to stop, or how to fit actual life into your workouts – and vice versa.
Recently, I’ve taken to incorporating the smartwatch Reminder feature into my workouts. You can choose to use either the Reminder or the Timer, but it’s up to you.
Using the Reminder, I set the time I’d like to be finished with the workout and then kick off the Exercise tile activity. Or, I use the Reminder to set a time when I need to do something else for a few minutes (i.e., pause the activity tracker to switch over the laundry or check the inner temperature of a Christmas turkey). Once my other thing is finished, I kick off the Exercise activity again. Football game comes on in 15 minutes? No problem. Do something active for 15 minutes and still catch the game.
The Reminder and Timer smartwatch functions exist inside the Clock tile (as shown in the next image):
Once inside the Clock tile, set the Reminder or swipe right-to-left to access the Timer.