Just in time for the holidays, Microsoft has added new features to its Band 2 wearable that could boost its appeal to fitness buffs and music lovers.
First unveiled during this fall's Windows 10 Hardware event in New York, the Band 2 is a curvier follow-up to the original, hard-edged Band. Sporting a rounded display, wrist-friendly construction and a more refined design, the updated wearable also features 11 sensors along with cross-platform support (iOS, Android and Windows).
Courtesy of the new update, early buyers—the Band 2 went on sale on Oct. 30 for $250—can use the Band 2 to motivate them to get up and move around.
"Your new Microsoft Band can now remind you to get up and move when you've been still for too long," announced the Microsoft Devices group in a Dec. 10 blog post. "You choose the time intervals and the days you want to be reminded. You can also set a period of time when you don't want to receive reminders, like when you're sleeping or driving."
When Band 2 owners engage in some exercise, it now offers more health monitoring and tracking options.
Changes to the Exercise tile makes it "easier to track your duration, calorie burn, and heart rate for your favorite exercises," the company's bloggers wrote. "Select popular options, like yoga or weightlifting, or name your own. When you review your exercise sessions in the Microsoft Health app or Web Dashboard, your summaries and observations will be grouped by exercise type for better insights into your performance."
Also new are music controls that allow users to keep their smartphones stowed away while switching tracks.
"The full-color touchscreen displays the song title and lets you pause and play, skip forward and back, and turn the volume up and down," said Microsoft. The controls work with apps from partner company Spotify, but the company assured that "any music app you use on your phone connects to your new Microsoft Band through Bluetooth."
Band 2 is Microsoft's latest entry in the growing and increasingly competitive market for wearable devices.
Catering to strong initial demand, Apple finally released its long-awaited Watch on April 24. According to International Data Corporation's (IDC) latest wearables market statistics, the Cupertino, Calif., device maker is quickly climbing up the ranks.
Apple shipped 3.9 million Watches in the third quarter of 2015, enough to earn the company second place with 18.6 percent of the market. Fitbit claimed the top spot with shipments of 4.7 million wearable devices and a 22.2 percent share of the market. Third-place Xiaomi is quickly gaining ground with shipments of 3.7 million units and 17.4 percent of the market.
"The early stages of the wearables market have led to tight competition among the leading vendors, and Chinese vendors have seized upon market momentum to grab market share," said IDC Research Manager Ramon Llamas in a statement. "China has quickly emerged as the fastest-growing wearables market, attracting companies eager to compete on price and feature sets."