Time for more wrist apps as Microsoft Band SDK leaves preview

As the one Windows across all devices strategy unfolds, the Microsoft Band gets an updated SDK for developers to create apps on the wearable health tracker.

The preview of Microsoft's Software Developer Kit (SDK) for the Microsoft Band that arrived in March is a preview no more. The company announced a full release for the toolkit that allows developers to create apps for the small $199 wearable device.

Aside from losing the preview tag, the SDK has these new features for app-makers:

  • Build apps that support Windows.
  • Create your own custom layouts for pages on third-party tiles using icons, text, buttons, and barcodes for payment options.
  • Receive events and button-click callbacks from the Microsoft Band to your phone app. If you press a button on a page inside your tile, your app would know which button was pressed.
  • Connect to the Band from background tasks.
  • Tap into calorie subscription from the Microsoft Band.

I ordered a Microsoft Band immediately when it launched last October and found that it's good at what it does. The main focus then was around health tracking activities: The device was quite accurate for pace, distance and heart rate monitoring when I wore it during my daily run, for example.

See also: Running with the Apple Watch: Yes, you can leave your iPhone behind

Apps, however, were fairly limited, as were notifications from my smartphone. Or rather, smartphones since one of the compelling features of Microsoft's Band is the ability to work with Windows Phone, Android or iOS. With the SDK now in place, the device has far more potential for a wider range of applications, notifications and other customizations.

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As with any ecosystem, however, developers tend to focus on devices and platforms with large market share or highly engaged users. It's not yet clear how the Microsoft Band fits into those categories.

Even though the Band has been sold out for much of the time since its October release, that could be due to limited production runs. Microsoft overproduced -- or overestimated demand -- for its first Surface and took a $900 million inventory write-off in 2013 for that hardware product. I doubt it will make the same mistake twice.

Regardless, the newly updated SDK brings another tool in Microsoft's kit to attract developers by adding another device in the mix for Windows apps. Let's see if they take Microsoft up on it.

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