Microsoft Band Hike/Walk Tile Accuracy Under Scrutiny

Microsoft Band Hike/Walk Tile Accuracy Under Scrutiny

In the latest update, Microsoft delivered on a most requested feature by incorporate a new Explore Tile for the Microsoft Band. Customers have been asking for the ability to track walks and hikes for a long time, but now that the feature is available it may not be meeting the exact vision of the request.

The Explore Tile offers some great potential, but due to the limited GPS sampling rate (because GPS Power Saver is turned on by default with no way of turning it off), customers using the new feature are reporting severe inaccuracies for distance, pace, and location. These inaccuracies are recorded between individuals both wearing a Microsoft Band 2 and walking side-by-side on the very same route. The end results show that one person walked further than the other for the exact same length of time, had a better or worse pace, and at least one person strayed from the path (even though they didn’t).

Part of the problem is that it’s difficult to kick-off the Hike/Walk at the same moment so that the Band sensor is pinging the GPS satellites at the exact same time. It reminds me of the original Battlestar Galactica TV show, where Starbuck and Apollo would regularly synchronize their watches during missions. Of course, in the Galactica future they use centons as minutes, but it’s the synchronization that’s important. If the both Bands were pinging at the same times the accuracy would improve, but since they are working independently, the recorded information is different.

When used with a normal GPS sampling rate, like for Runs and Bike rides, the Microsoft Band is highly accurate. However, as many have experienced since Microsoft first introduced the GPS Power Saver mode in February, turning this feature on changes distance results completely. GPS Power Saver mode is intended to help improve battery life for the Band. Microsoft states that the Band battery will get up to 12 hours of life using the new Explore Tile function, though some have reported that its much more like 6-8 hours.

It may not be the most accurate piece of the Microsoft Band, but many are still praising the new Explore Tile function since it a) solves a customer request and shows the Microsoft Band team is listening, and b) is better than nothing and at least records steps and calories.

So, what’s your experience with the new Explore Tile? Is it accurate enough?

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