If you’ve been wondering what the difference is between Apple’s new wearable and Microsoft’s second take on the Band, it’s quite a lot. The first Band was a chunky and clunky bit of kit that had more than a whiff of criminal ankle tracker about it. This year’s version is more comfortable, better looking and comes with a whole heap of features.
The main changes are on the software side. The GPS toggle buttons have been tweaked and the progress meter now takes up a full display when you tap on it (just like Fitbit does). There’s an auto-clock mode too, which only shows the screen when you lift your wrist to view it, so you save battery. And a UV sensor now tracks exposure over time to help you avoid sunburn.
Microsoft’s health platform has also been given a makeover. The Band 2 can record a huge amount of information which ends up on a dedicated dashboard that’s accessible from the phone, tablet and web app. You can see your heart rate and other stats in detail and even compare against the data of friends, plus you can get actionable insights from your fitness habits.
There are also some neat little touches – you can swipe down on the watch face to access notifications and respond to text messages with pre-written responses that match the context. You can even control music playback from the watch, which supports Android and iOS. And if you’re connected to a Windows Phone you can use Microsoft’s virtual assistant Cortana for voice and messaging commands.