Microsoft has pushed out an update to its Band wearable and at the same time made available a Band SDK Preview. The new software adds functionality to the wearable while the SDK promises to let developers target the Band with their own apps.
Microsoft first released the Band several months ago. Its wearable is more of a fitness band on steriods than it is a smartwatch. It has a limited screen and doesn'f offer some of the advanced features found on Android Wear or the Apple Watch. The updated system software, which Microsoft says if the first of several yet to come, adds a handful of new features. For example, it can now be used to track bicycle workouts and offers new ways to view and respond to incoming notifications. Further, it introduces a web dashboard and integration with HealthVault, Microsoft's health-tracking tool.
The SDK, which is being called a preview, is being offered to Microsoft's own Windows Phone platform and Google's Android platform. Microsoft said an SDK for iOS is still in the works. The SDK gives developers access to the sensors available on the Band, as well as the ability to create and send notifications to tiles. Microsoft says developers can "enhance and extend the experience of your applications to your customers' wrists."
Some of the sensors include heart rate, UV radiation, accelerometer, gyroscope, and skin termperature. These are in addition to the Band's ability to track walking, running and (now) biking. These give developers a range of ways interact with the Band. Band apps take the form of tiles, similar to the way Windows works. Developers can create their own tile and use it to create glanceable notifications from their apps. Developers can go so far as monetizing the tile, says Microsoft, by letting users change the color, theme, of wallpaper.
MIcrosoft is offering a series of documents to help developers get started with their Band apps. It has sample code for both Windows and Android, in addition to guidelines for creating the right types of experiences for the Band. There's a detailed guide that walks developers through the process of coding their apps for the Band.
Microsoft is currently out of stock of the Band, which costs $200. It hasn't said if or when it will have more wearables available.