11 essential ​Microsoft Band 2 tips

Get to know your fitness tracker inside out
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The Microsoft Band 2 is something of a triumph for the Redmond-based software giant, and the company has finally managed to pile a super array of tech inside a fitness tracker that's actually (semi) wearable.

But with so many advanced sensors and tech, it's easy to miss some of the niftier aspects of the Microsoft Band 2's bulging feature list.

So check out our hand-picked tips and tricks to enhance your Microsoft Band 2 experience.

Wear your Band face down

11 essential ​Microsoft Band 2 tips

Which way to wear the Microsoft Band has always been a bit of a issue, and Microsoft's own images and messaging don't make it any clearer. Obviously it's a personal choice, but if you're just getting to grips with the Microsoft Band, try putting the screen on the inside of your wrist.

The new Microsoft Band 2 display is constructed of Gorilla Glass 3 so there's no worry about scratching, and it works well for a couple of reasons.

For some people the large sensor clasp can push on the blood vessels under your wrist and become less comfortable. What's more, there's also a UV sensor on the outside of the clasp so having that on top makes it more likely to capture accurate data. Give it a try.

Connect to third party apps

11 essential ​Microsoft Band 2 tips

While the Microsoft Health app continues to improve, it also lets you use the big third party health apps too.

Tap on Apps on the left menu of the Microsoft Health app on your phone and then choose to link your accounts with your Microsoft account. Currently supported services include Lose It!, RunKeeper, MyFitnessPal, HealthVault, MapMyFitness, Strava, and TaylorMade.

There are some limitations with the data that is exported. For example, the data Microsoft provides to RunKeeper does not contain the GPS route info, which is a bit of a dealbreaker, but it means that you existing RunKeeper users can still see progress and improvement.

Enable motion tracking for your phone

11 essential ​Microsoft Band 2 tips

If you happen to leave your Microsoft Band 2 at home on charge, don't worry about missing out on capturing your motion. Tap on My Phone in the left side menu of the Microsoft Health app on your phone and slide the toggle over to have your phone's in-built sensors cover for your Band's.

Then when you connect your Band again, the gaps in activity tracking will be synced. You won't get all of the data that you would with your Band on your wrist, but at least your weekly step averages won't be trashed.

Delete false sleep sessions

Thankfully, Microsoft introduced automatic sleep tracking Band 2 so you don't have to remember to put the tracker into sleep mode, like on its precedessor. However, it's not perfect.

Our testing showed that the Band tracked a movie or other slothful couch time as sleep. However, you can always go in and delete false sleep sessions, which for our money is still better than miss out tracking sleep all the time. But there is a caveat.

While restful sleep, light sleep, times woke up, time to fall asleep, duration, and calories burned are all tracked in auto mode, sleep restoration is not. If you want all the sleep data you can gather, you'll still need to use manual mode. Just go to the Sleep Tile and choose the action button.

Try out the web app

11 essential ​Microsoft Band 2 tips

You can view some data on your Microsoft Band 2 and then even more of the details on your smartphone. However, if you really want to see all of the details, see your personal bests, data compared over different periods of time, then the web version of the Microsoft Health Dashboard is your friend. Just follow the link and sign in using your Windows ID to get more data than your mind can manage.

Make those stairs count

The new barometer sensor in the Microsoft Band 2 can measure the stairs climbed, so make use of it by earning points for skipping the elevator. While this data appears in the details of the Health app, Microsoft also provides your stair climb number when you toggle through the basic data using the action button on the home screen display.

Turn on the coach

11 essential ​Microsoft Band 2 tips

Microsoft provides an incredible number of guided workouts, to help you get more out of gym sessions. They're a little hard to find, but there's lessons from Gold's Gym, Shape, Men's Fitness, Muscle & Fitness, Benchmark WOD, and Starting Strength including weight training sessions, race distance plans, cardio, stretching and yoga.

On your phone or the Microsoft Health website, browse and find guided workouts that you want to try and then sync them to your Microsoft Band. After launching the workout, you will be guided through the routine by your Band through words, data tracking, and vibrations.

Control music from your wrist

11 essential ​Microsoft Band 2 tips

Most people use their phones to enjoy music, but it's also a bit of a pain to pull your phone out of your pocket to control the volume and playback of your music.

Microsoft recently updated the Microsoft Band 2 and now when you play music on your phone you will see music controls appear right on the Band after you double press the large power button. Skip back, play/pause, and skip forward controls appear on your Band. Swipe right to lower volume and swipe left to increase volume from your Band. The Action button can also be used as a play/pause button.

Use the smart alarm for easier mornings

11 essential ​Microsoft Band 2 tips

You may have found that you wake up on the "wrong side of the bed" at times and feel terrible when that alarm goes off. It's likely that you were woke up while in a restful sleep stage.

The new Microsoft Band sleep mode has an option to set a smart alarm, which will wake you during a light sleep phase so you can avoid that groggy feeling when your wake up call sounds. You'll feel better for it, make sure you get to bed on time so it doesn't cost you vital sleep.

Pay for stuff with custom tiles

11 essential ​Microsoft Band 2 tips

You can have up to 13 tiles displayed on your Microsoft Band 2, and some offer more than just tracking and information. The Starbucks app will enable you to pay for items in the coffee chain from your band, meaning you don't have to pull out your wallet to grab a latte.

Explore web tiles

11 essential ​Microsoft Band 2 tips

Microsoft announced Web Tiles in July where developers could provide glanceable information to customers in the form of a tile. In the Microsoft Health app add the Windows Central tile. It's still slim pickings, but with the full release of the Band 2 there should be more tiles inbound and it's an area well worth watching.

How we test

Michael Sawh


Michael Sawh has been covering the wearable tech industry since the very first Fitbit landed back in 2011. Previously the resident wearable tech expert at Trusted Reviews, he also marshaled the features section of T3.com.

He also regularly contributed to T3 magazine when they needed someone to talk about fitness trackers, running watches, headphones, tablets, and phones.

Michael writes for GQ, Wired, Coach Mag, Metro, MSN, BBC Focus, Stuff, TechRadar and has made several appearances on the BBC Travel Show to talk all things tech. 

Michael is a lover of all things sports and fitness-tech related, clocking up over 15 marathons and has put in serious hours in the pool all in the name of testing every fitness wearable going. Expect to see him with a minimum of two wearables at any given time.

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