After a couple of quiet months, Microsoft is starting to make improvements to its Band fitness tracker and Health apps.
The latest update adds 12 new guided workouts for Microsoft Band and Health, along with four more workout plans that span two to three weeks. Last week, Microsoft also updated the Health app with some general bug fixes, and added a way for Android users to control which notifications appear on the Band.
Further reading: Living with Microsoft Band, the activity tracker that tries to do everything
Guided workouts are one of the main features of Microsoft's fitness platform, with routines from expert sources such as Gold's Gym and Men's Health. Users can scale the intensity of these plans through the Health smartphone app, and can download them to the Band to track things like reps, timing, and heart rate. The new workouts include guidance from fitness author Mark Rippetoe, and some of them integrate fitness equipment such as dumbbells and jump rope.
Currently, the Health app is only available for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone, but Microsoft says it's still working on a Web version that'll let users track their fitness from laptops and desktops.
Why this matters: Microsoft released its Health apps and Band fitness tracker in October, but it was a low-key launch. The $200 Band has only been available in limited quantities--you can't even buy one online currently--as Microsoft has said it's more of a showcase for the Health app than a full-blown consumer product. The goal with Health is to give smart insights on users' behavior, such as how productive they are on workout days, and Microsoft hopes it can license its tracking modules to other fitness device makers as a way of feeding into that system.
However, Microsoft hasn't actually done much with Health and Band since launching them a few months back, probably because the company tends to wind things down over the holidays. The new workout routines are just a minor improvement to the platform, but as with any exercise regimen, you've got to start somewhere.