[Video] Microsoft Band virtual keyboard full review – it works surprisingly really well

Microsoft has just pushed out the first major update for the Band since its launch in October, and one of the cool new features is the availability of a virtual keyboard. But how well does it actually work on such a tiny screen? Surprisingly, really well. We have to say that Microsoft did the best implementation possible on the screen real estate available.

The way to start a text is to tap on the messaging tile and reply to one of the previous messages you’ve received, or you can just reply to a text when one comes in. Scroll upwards on the screen and you’ll see a reply icon. Once you tap that icon, from there you can select the keyboard option, voice to text with Cortana, or choose a response from the list of the pre-selected replies.

Once you select the keyboard, you’ll notice it’ll take up the entire screen. But don’t worry, you can always scroll over to the right to see what you actually wrote.  You’ll notice there’s a space button in the owner corner and a period on the top left.

This keyboard uses Microsoft’s Word Flow technology which does a fantastic job in predicting commonly used words  so you don’t have to be entirely accurate while typing and the end-result is very good, actually.  Missing the letters completely while typing often results in what you were trying to achieve as the prediction engine is pretty well optimized in this situation, and it does a really good job of figuring out what you’re trying to type.

WP_20150223_23_27_13_ProTo add punctuation or numbers, just scroll to the left while using the keyboard and you’ll see an option to add numbers or punctuations. Yep, for such a tiny thing it certainly has all the keyboard essentials.

In the middle of your message or after you’ve finished, you can scroll over to the right to check if you’re satisfied with the result, and then scroll back to continue typing. If not, you can tap a word you’re not happy with and just above it you’ll see a few suggestions to select from. There’s also an X beside the word in case you choose to delete it completely and a plus sign to add more text before the word selected. Once you’ve finished, you would press the action button to send it off.

We’re very impressed with how Microsoft implemented these features considering how tiny the display is, and although it’s nice to have this ability, it’s hard to imagine situations where one would use this when your phone is always nearby. Either way, some people may find this useful, especially while exercising or while they’re away from their phones.

Microsoft Band, Health get major updates including Bike Tile, Virtual Keyboard, Developer SDK Preview & more

microsoft-bandMicrosoft Band is a very useful health & fitness tracker but also a handy smart-watch that has a lot of potential. Although the device was launched late last year at a very small scale, Microsoft wanted to get a lot of user feedback and carefully examine user-data before they mass-produce the wearable tech. Presently, it’s only available in the U.S. but we expect to see Microsoft Band available in more countries in the near future.

It’s been well over three months since the Band hit the shelves (and also sold out within hours), and today Microsoft has released the first large update to the device as well as an update to the Microsoft Health app which now fully integrates with Microsoft HealthVault and MapMyFitness. It also gives users a much deeper insight into their health activities and workouts through Microsoft Health Web Dashboard.

“For the last three months, we’ve monitored feedback carefully from customers, partners and media. While the response has been overwhelmingly positive, we are continuing to listen to our customers and make improvements based on their feedback,” said Matt Barlow, General Manager of New Devices Marketing. “This feedback is at the heart of the decisions we make, and today we’re pleased to take our first steps in launching new features and functionality for Microsoft Band and Microsoft Health that address what we’re hearing.”

On the front-end, the update is mainly focused on enhancing the interaction and workout experience while the user is biking, through the new “Bike Tile” and guided bike workouts. Another feature included in the update is the “Virtual Keyboard” which lets users read and reply to text messages and e-mail straight from the Band by easily swiping the on-screen predictive keyboard. This is only available (at least for now) for those with the Windows Phone 8.1. Click here to watch our full video review of the Virtual Keyboard.

On the back-end, there is now a new ability to allow third party developers to tap into the Band’s vast array of workout APIs as Microsoft has announced the release of the Developer Preview SDK. According to a recent press release, “this will allow third party developers to start building innovative new apps and creative new experiences for Microsoft Band. Developers can learn more at http://developer.microsoftband.com

Here is the full list of features now available for the Microsoft Band & Microsoft Health:

Insights

  • Microsoft Health Web Dashboard: The Microsoft Health web dashboard provides users insights, unique to them. The more users use their Microsoft Band, the more valuable these insights will become. The web dashboard is accessible via any web browser, providing a powerful complement to the Microsoft Health mobile app, which helps users track progress to their fitness goals. Users can access their personal Microsoft Health web dashboard at: https://dashboard.microsofthealth.com.

Features

Bike Tile: The Bike Tile on users’ Microsoft Band lets them track their rides both indoors and outdoors, on the road or trail. Features include:

  • Heart Rate Monitor: When the Bike tile is active, the heart rate monitor is optimized specifically for biking activities.
  • Elevation Tracking: Track elevation and elevation gain, distance and duration and calorie burn– viewable in the Microsoft Health app.
  • GPS: Users can activate GPS on their Band to map their ride in the mobile app and share it with their friends via email.
  • Speed Analysis: Track your current and average speeds both on the band and in the mobile app, and review your custom splits to relive those longer bike rides.
  • Recovery: From the mobile app, users can see an estimate for how long it will take their body to recover from the ride.
  • Web Dashboard: Biking functionality is supported by the Microsoft Health mobile app at launch. Integration with the Microsoft Health web dashboard is coming soon.
  • Guided Workouts: Five new indoor biking workouts have been added to the Guided Workouts portfolio, including: Indoor Bike Tabata Sprints, Indoor Bike Hour of Sweat, Indoor Bike Total Body, Indoor Bike Pyramid, and Indoor Bike Intervals.
  • Quick Read: Quick Read provides another option to scan incoming texts, emails and other notifications. When enabled, notifications are displayed in a large font size and in rapid succession of words enabling users to read messages while in motion and without the need to scroll.
  • Virtual Keyboard & Voice Replies for Windows Phone 8.1 Users: Windows Phone 8.1 users can craft replies to text messages in two ways. Users can reply to text messages using the virtual keyboard with minimal errors with the help of Microsoft’s World Flow technology, which predicts commonly used words and phrases. They can also dictate responses with voice, powered by Cortana.

Integration

  • Microsoft HealthVault: Users can create a complete picture of their health, with them at the center. Microsoft HealthVault lets users organize their health information in one place, and helps them gather, store, use, and share information and records with their healthcare providers. Now with Microsoft HealthVault integration, a user’s Microsoft Health data is automatically uploaded to their HealthVault account, including their workout and sleep data. To link a Microsoft HealthVault account to Microsoft Health data, simply go to “Connected Apps” in the menu of the Microsoft Health app.
  • MapMyFitness: Starting today, users can sync to their MapMyFitness account. To link a MapMyFitness account to Microsoft Health data, simply go to “Connected Apps” in the menu of the Microsoft Health app.

Ordering at Starbucks with the Microsoft Band!

If you’ve taken delivery of your new MS Band, or picked one up at your local Microsoft Store, you will have received a $5 gift card from Starbucks and there’s a good reason for that. Starbucks is a launch partner for the Band, with their own dedicated App pre-installed on your new toy. Using the card is as simple as going to the Starbucks Site, opening your account or registering for a new one, adding the card to your account, and you’re all set. You can also add value to the card by credit card or PayPal, and enable an autorefill option should you wish.

"Our Motto here at MPR"
“Our Motto here at MPR”

Well, I was getting a bit draggy after lunch here today, time shifted from the daylight savings time clock change and staying up late shooting the unboxing video the other day, so I decided I’d try out the Starbucks App and use my $5 on a BIG cup of coffee! Once you have registered your card, opening your Starbucks Band App will get the ball rolling automatically, so Band on wrist, I straggled out to my local Starbucks to get caffeinated! Opening the App is as simple as pressing the Power Button to wake the Band up, swiping right to the Starbucks symbol, and tappingSBucks App Logo on MS Band on it.

This will open up the App which just displays your card number as a bar code. The display keeps this in screen for about 15 seconds, and given how fast the process is you might as well hold off on this until you have made your order. When my turn at the counter came, I received a couple of nice surprises. I was holding my phone and activating the camera to photogra

Did you think I was going to let you buy your coffee on MY Account?
Did you think I was going to let you buy your coffee on MY Account? 

ph the process when my Barista spotted my oh so subtle banana-yellow Lumia 1020 and said:” Oh! Is that a Windows Phone? I’ve been seeing a bunch of them and I think they’re really cool.” Coming only a few weeks after the launch of the new iPhone the recognition of my Lumia was a nice indication of the increasing presence of Windows Phone here in the US.

“Yes it is.” I said, “and it is a really great phone, but the coolest thing I have is actually this.”, pointing to the MS Band on my wrist. “Oh! Is that the new Band thing? That’s so cool. We got a Memo about it today, you’re my first. Can I see it?” So a small group of curious Baristas and Customers began craning their necks to see the Band in action. “Sure”, I said, “Can I use it to pay first?”

"And He waveth His hand, and Lo! Caffeine was Delivered!"
“And He waveth His hand, and Lo!                                            Caffeine was Delivered From Bondage!”

And so I tapped the Starbucks App, the Bar Code appeared, and I turned the inside of my wrist (Yes, I’m an “Innie”, not an “Outie”) at the scanner. My Barista hit the button to activate it, it picked up my code with a discrete beep, and it was all over. Coffee paid for, people began quizzing me about the band and looking it over.

Now, ordinarily, I love being a quasi-Ambassador for most Microsoft products, but in this case,

"Is that the Large size MS Band you're wearing?"
“Is that the Large size MS Band you’re wearing?”

I was unprepared for the questioning and almost fawning over my wrist that insured. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have a good-looking, ok, a GREAT-looking wrist, which leads the eye seamlessly to my large hands (Hello Ladies!), but I can’t remember the last time I was asked to trot it out for a crowd of gawking strangers with lustful longing in their eyes. OK, yes I can, but that’s the stuff I write about for another Site.

"You have no idea the risk you're taking"
“You have no idea the risk you’re taking”

In this case, I had to struggle a bit to retain my composure and answer their questions patiently with some degree of accuracy. Didn’t these people realize I hadn’t had my daily coffee yet? This was not my most sociable hour and being besieged like those guys in the Hai Karate commercials from the 60’s was something I just wasn’t quite ready for.

But I persevered, answered their questions, and prayed my Grande Skinny Latte would arrive soon, with a large-bore IV needle so I could handle the onslaught. Sure enough, the coffee arrived, I gulped it gratefully, and strolled out of the store with the warm embrace of caffeine spreading thru my brain.

"Fantastic! But didn't I order this with an IV?"
“Fantastic! But didn’t I order this with an IV?”

So there you have it. Using the Starbucks App to claim your free coffee via your new MS Band is a quick and easy process, and one that may serve as a great sign of things that may come as other companies develop Apps for the Band, making various activities and transactions as easy as this was. Just make sure you’re ready to be the center of attention for the next few weeks until this high-tech jewel become everyday.

It’s a burden, but someone has to wear it.

Microsoft Band Unboxing & First Impressions Video

Microsoft has just entered the wearable market with a bang, and their take is rather interesting. The Microsoft Band is a wearable fitness tracker and smart watch which they say will make you a healthier person.  Microsoft wants to create a way to help you stay healthy and change your life for the better with providing useful information to you through the data that Microsoft Band is able to capture.

Here’s our quick unboxing and first impressions of what may be the start of something big in the wearable market.

Microsoft Band Unboxing & First Impressions Video

Microsoft has just entered the wearable market with a bang, and their take is rather interesting. The Microsoft Band is a wearable fitness tracker and smart watch which they say will make you a healthier person.  Microsoft wants to create a way to help you stay healthy and change your life for the better with providing useful information to you through the data that Microsoft Band is able to capture.

Here’s our quick unboxing and first impressions of what may be the start of something big in the wearable market.

Microsoft Band Will Not Be Available Outside Of The U.S. Anytime Soon

microsoft-bandLast night Microsoft has launched their health & fitness SmartWatch called “Microsoft Band” and so far the response online and in retail stores has been extremely positive.

We knew the device was only offered in the U.S. but many have hoped Microsoft Band will soon be launched internationally as well, at least by the holidays.

Well, today we have some bad news for anyone outside of the U.S. eying this handy little gadget – it will not be available internationally any time soon unfortunately, according to Joe Belfiore from Microsoft in a recent tweet:

Microsoft is often known for first releasing and “trying out” the market at home, in the U.S. before deciding to expand internationally so we expect to see Microsoft spend considerable time evaluating the strategy with the Band before committing to a wider release.

Click here for more info on The Microsoft Band.

Meet The Microsoft Band – Microsoft's Cross-Platform Cortana-enabled SmartWatch

en-INTL-PDP-Kronos_PersonalizeUpdate [October 31, 2014]Microsoft Band Is Sold Out Online!

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We’ve heard many rumors about it and witnessed FCC filings detailing Microsoft’s wearable health and wellness wearable device and today the highly-anticipated wearable device has been revealed – it is called The Microsoft Band. It can be pre-ordered through Microsoft now but it is expected to ship by November 1.

The Microsoft Band is offered in Small, Medium and Large size and it’s selling for $199 USD. It is a cross-platform device that can be easily personalized to look and function according to your very own needs.

microsoft-band-smartwatch-fitness

It features Guided Workouts, an integrated 24-hour heart rate tracking as well as a Sleep tracker that monitors the quality of your resting time. Another neat feature is the Skin temperature sensor.

Microsoft’s new SmartWatch also lets you stay productive. With the help of Cortana it allows you to easily interact with your e-mail and calendar. The Microsoft Band also acts as a perfect phone companion as it lets you “preview incoming calls, texts, social updates, weather, and more are just a wrist away. With Microsoft Band, now you can keep your head up, your eyes forward, and your hands free” according to Microsoft.

en-INTL-L-Kronos-4M5-00001-RM2-mnco

The Microsoft Band is super light weighing in at 2.12 ounces (60 g) and is compatible with Windows Phone 8.1 update3 with Bluetooth, iOS 7.1 and 8 as well as Android 4.3-4.4 devices with Bluetooth.

Microsoft has put in some amazing technology behind this new device, such as built-in GPS that records the routes you’ve walked, run, biked, and hiked. It even features a UV monitor that gives you current UV index reading to help you protect your skin.

We’ll have a full hands on review of the Microsoft Band shortly so stay tuned.

Click here to visit the official Microsoft Band page for more details.