Microsoft has announced the second version of its fitness wearable, the Microsoft Band 2. Compared with last year's model, the new device is packed with more sensors, more comfortable to wear around your wrist, and a little more expensive too. Voice support for Cortana, Microsoft's digital assistant app, has been added as well.
The most obvious change the new Microsoft Band 2 brings is the revamped and streamlined look – an area where the original device was lacking. The screen is curved and finished with Gorilla Glass 3, while Microsoft has made the band more flexible and comfortable to wear. It's promising two days of battery life, but we'll have to wait to test it out to see if that's accurate.
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While the first band had an impressive bunch of sensors – covering GPS, heart rate, step, sleep and calorie tracking – the new device adds a barometer to the mix to measure atmospheric pressure and keep track of your altitude during those long hikes. It can also estimate VO2 Max, an advanced measure of your fitness, which typically requires expensive equipment and a long monitoring session to calculate.
As for smart notifications, the Microsoft Band 2 supports a broader range of apps and alerts: Uber, RunKeeper, Twitter, Facebook, Starbucks and Subway were the ones mentioned by Microsoft in its press event. It also has some extra features for golfers, including automatic shot tracking.
On the whole it looks like a more capable and comprehensive device. As before, everything ties in with the Microsoft Health platform, which can keep track of workouts and make recommendations about future fitness goals.
Microsoft says the new Band will go on sale at the end of October for US$249.99 in the United States. Details of international availability haven't yet been released but that works out to around £165 or AUS$350. Like the first edition of the wearable, Microsoft Band 2 works with smartphones running Android, iOS and Windows.
You can see Microsoft's promotional video for the new band below.