I love jigsaw puzzles. The more pieces the better. It’s one of my favorite quiet-time hobbies. For those that share my enjoyment of puzzles, you might feel the same exhilaration I do when completion is just within grasp with less than 10 unplaced puzzle pieces.
Another passion of mine is fitness and health, and lately that relates mostly to the Microsoft Band (though I’m finding some newfound value in “other” devices – details later). A string of news and rumor recently about a 3rd iteration of the Microsoft Band has afforded me the opportunity to combine these two passions.
So, let’s stoke the fire a bit. I’ve read some personal visions from bloggers who, over the past couple months, have given their ideas of what they’d like to see in Microsoft Band 3. But, when you get right down to it, those commentaries look at Microsoft Band from a general view, i.e., as a wristwatch with fitness features instead of a fitness device with watch features. They are essentially using the Microsoft Band as a Fitbit step counter and not achieving their full potential. Just strapping on a fitness wearable doesn’t immediately make you healthier or more fit conscious, but, it’s a good first step. But, I digress.
For those of us that use the Microsoft Band for more than a pedestrian device, I think it’s more interesting to see what current customers are asking for in the next generation device. The Microsoft Band team has done a great job delivering customer asks, and they continue to do so. So, it makes complete sense for use to delve into the top customer requests from the Health/Band Uservoice page.
I’m purposely leaving out the general consumer wants and focusing solely on those requests that are fitness related and that require a new design and new hardware to accomplish. Thankfully, some of these can be obtained through a firmware update even on the Band 2.
Here they are (in order of popularity) with comment:
- Make the Band waterproof/Support for swimming – I fully expect to see this happening.
- Food Diary, calorie intake tracking – I think this will come as better integration with current partners instead of Microsoft keeping its own food diary.
- Add a Medical Emergency ID tile – The Garmin vivoactive HR has this option, but as an add-on app.
- Integrate with Fitbit – this is something I talked about recently – giving Microsoft Health two-way sync with 3rd party services.
- Support water intake tracking, reminder to drink water – Easy to do and could even be supplied by a non-Microsoft developer.
- Show more Heart Rate details, Heart Rate chart throughout entire day – this data already exists in the Microsoft Health export from the web dashboard – Microsoft just needs to expose it in a meaningful way in the dashboard and in the app.
- Skiing (Alpine, Cross-Country, Backcountry) & Snowboarding Tile – to me, it’s surprising this ask is so popular, but then again, I’m from Ohio. For now, though, Active Fitness supplies this already.
- Track body temperature, similar to heart rate – I agree – this would be great data to have handy.
- Allow us to manually add or edit any activity, or activity data – deleting an activity is allowed, but yeah, not manual edit or modification. I’ve had instances where this would have been valuable because the Band locked up (read about heat problems) or some other issue.
- Fix design flaw in Band 2 strap which causes separation after normal use in about 30 days. – OMG. Please, please, please – this has to be number 1 priority.
- Music storage and player on band (so I don't need my phone when I run or workout outdoors) – this was one of my biggest asks in the past before I started using the Bragi Dash. Now, I’m torn. Would still be a nice feature.
- Add support for a vertical layout display on the Band – the display orientation doesn’t bother me, but is an absolute turn-off for many. Microsoft just needs to make it a configurable option. Vertical display, incidentally, is the only orientation that the latest Gear Fit 2 from Samsung supports. I’ll be testing this soon.
These are the top customer requests right now and I believe most of them will make it into the Microsoft Band feature stream eventually. Will they all require a brand new Band design to accomplish? Not all of them. However, as much as I played off that new Band hardware is critical in It’s about the Microsoft Health Platform, Not the Microsoft Band, I still think it’s important for Microsoft to release something soon. If you believe that Panos Panay was wearing a Band 3 prototype on the Microsoft Expert live video feed a few days ago, it would seem that the company is dead set on the Band’s design. So, what may roll off the assembly line may not exactly be a reimagined Band, but instead more of a Microsoft Band 2.5 that’s intended to fix Band 2’s flaws and show customers that it’s still listening. Microsoft needs to do something with the wearable if it wants to remain in this space. If anything, the company needs to release a new Band to save face. It doesn’t have to be Microsoft Band 3. 2.5 will do just fine.
I’m getting excited – the puzzle pieces are falling into place.
What about you? Are there wants/desires for a next generation Microsoft Band that is not included in this list? Let me know…or start your own Uservoice thread and let me know so I can drop out and vote it up.