In a recent post, I offered a tip for getting more battery life out of the Microsoft Band when performing and monitoring lengthy fitness activities. The tip involves shutting off unnecessary band features to extend available juice.
But, based on that tip, it's become clear that there's a bit of confusion around the Microsoft Band's built-in GPS abilities and whether or not it can also be turned off for activity tracking. The built-in GPS is an awesome feature. Using GPS data, Microsoft Health can more accurately track things like distance and pace. It can also provide a map for your runs or bike rides.
But, GPS is not needed for duration, estimated distance, calories burned, max heart rate and average heart rate. These are calculated using the optical heart rate monitor and the Accelerometer/Gyrometer.
In fact, when you run the treadmill (dreadmill) or ride a stationary bike, you turn off the GPS anyway because there's no location data available. Based on past activities, Microsoft Band does its best to track your pace and distance to provide estimated output. Over time, the more you use the GPS for tracking, the better job Microsoft Band does in learning you, and the estimates continue to get more accurate.
So, can you turn off GPS during outside runs and bikes rides? Absolutely. The biggest thing you give up is the graphical map. If you read through my earlier tip for getting more battery life, you now realize that you can just turn Airplane mode "On" and disable Bluetooth and GPS in one fell swoop and understand exactly what you give up when doing so.
It comes down to what you can live without and how much battery life you want to eke out of the band. And, of course, that reminds me of a Seinfeld episode…