Microsoft's Band 2: Specs, pricing, SDK and more

Microsoft's Band 2 fitness device -- part of the company's Windows 10 devices family -- is available for preorder in the U.S. for $250.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft's second-generation fitness band, the Band 2, was one of several new devices the company introduced last week.

In the days since Microsoft showed off its new Band, which will go on sale in the United States starting October 30 for $250, Microsoft has chopped prices on Band 1 (to $100, as of October 12) and updated the Band software development kit to support Band 2.

I never owned a Band 1 device, as it looked far too much like a version 1 product for my liking. It was big and clunky and didn't offer enough features that made me interested in wearing it.

The Band 2 has a curved screen and is more tailored-looking. It includes a barometer sensor and other updated ones, including its onboard GPS. Band 2, like Band 1, provides heart-rate monitoring; tracking for running, biking, golfing, cycling and more; and the ability to work with Windows Phone, Android and iPhone devices.

Band 2 supports Cortana integration. Currently Cortana support is only for English-speaking Windows Phone users with 8.1 or above, but Microsoft does plan to provide various degrees of Cortana integration for Band 2 users with Android phones and iPhones.

The Band 2 doesn't run any Windows 10 variant inside; it still has a firmware core. Because the Band 2 will connect with Windows Phones running Windows 10 Mobile and support various Microsoft services, it's considered part of the Windows 10 devices family by extension.

Band 2 is not waterproof, though it is water-resistant. Microsoft is quoting battery life for the new device at 48 hours, and says it will take 1.5 hours to fully charge Band 2.

The updated Band SDK includes support for creating and sending notifications to tiles. It also adds support for creation of PDF 417 barcodes with alpha/numeric data (maybe for boarding passes?).

Band 2 is available for preorder from Microsoft's own stores, as well as various retailers including Amazon.com and Best Buy. Microsoft officials are saying Band 2 will be available in additional countries and regions at some point, but isn't offering further guidance at this time.

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