Microsoft Band Developer SDK Preview launched

Microsoft keeps just keeping on keeping developers happy!

Microsoft Band has got an SDK! After a few months of what many in the industry suspected was a soft-launch of developer preview device, and all the 3rd party Apps speculation on what exactly will be in the SDK – it has finally shipped.

-=> http://developer.microsoftband.com

So what IS the actual Band SDK resultant App?

  • Today it is a native App on the corresponding Phone that surfaces Notification to the Band, can listen to the sensors on the Band and change Band-wide theme.

The application logic runs on the host OS (iPhone, Android, Windows Phone) and it remotely controls the UI of the Microsoft Band as well as receives contextual information and sensor data from the Band.

What is available today – Documentation, SDK and Sample Code for:

  • Windows Phone Apps
  • Android Apps
  • iOS Apps [Coming Soon]

Mentioned in the Documentation are also:

  • Windows
  • Mac OS X

I am personally delighted that there is a Visual Guidelines published so that the apps are most user appealing. I highly recommend anyone reading this before starting any apps, first:

-=> Experience design guidelines

SDK has the following capabilities:

  • Provides real-time access to sensor data from one or more Microsoft Bands
  • Allows creating Tiles on a Microsoft Band, and sending notifications to them
  • Allows changing the Theme for the Band
  • Allows changing the main Tile background image

Some of the early scenarios as pointed out in the Documentation are:

  • Access to Sensors
  • Live Tile on the Band to keep users aware
  • Personalization of the entire Band experience not just your app

As it literally states on the new Developer Portal for Microsoft Band:

The Microsoft Band SDK Preview gives developers access to the sensors available on the band, as well as the ability to create and send notifications to tiles. Enhance and extend the experience of your applications to your customers’ wrists.

Stay tuned as I will be getting more hands-on time with Band SDK over the next few days and let you know what else I will find!

Update #1: You must download the updated Microsoft Health App for your respective phone and Update the Band’s firmware, before any code will return you a paired Band device. Also if you are not getting a connection from SDK, be sure to Un-pair and Pair the Band if you are on Windows Phone 10 (as it was mentione in the release notes on Windows Phone 10 Preview :)

Update #2: Remember The Band does not support color icons, only white alpha blended icons.

Happy wearables coding!

Windows Phone 10 Preview (Early Feb 2015)

Ah the day(s) has come.

I’ve been trying out the Windows Phone 10 Public Preview for a few days now.

You can see the Video of some of the new Features in Windows Phone 10 and find out more about it here from the Official Windows Blog here: Announcing the first build of Windows 10 Technical Preview for Phones

I will warn you that if you are to try it out on your own this is something not for the faint of heart. I really don’t recommend this unless you really enjoy living on the edge. Resetting your phone and tolerance for bumps on the road should be moderate to high. I learned that my tolerance is actually moderate to low for daily driver phone since Windows Phone 8.1 has been so well polished and fast.

What I do like:

  • Geek factor to 11!
    • Setting “-Send from Windows Phone 10” in Emails :)
  • All of my apps work as they used to. This was an in-place upgrade!
  • Neat new keyboard, but that Cortana voice dictation everywhere is pure gold!
  • Updated Notifications
    • Inline Reply to SMS right on the Toast Notification
    • Expanding Toast Notifications – now I can read all of the text an app sent over
    • New Animation and Gesture for dismissing a toast is swipe up not to the side, different and so is the animation that goes with it.
    • Bigger “charms” shortcuts in Notification Center, I try keep this expanded all the time now; settings is easier to open now
  • Better layout in the Settings; no more scrolling up and down looking for something
  • Tap and Hold now brings a different looking menu; not sure if I like it yet

What I don’t like:

  • Not smooth. Rough. Especially not smooth in animations and general performance. Nokia Lumia 830 is not a very fast phone to begin with, and this update really shows how slow it can get at times.
  • Phone calls hang and other bugs – all reported in the Feedback app by others
  • Cortana took a few steps back, because we are getting an earlier code thread than the production WP8.1 version
  • Copy & Paste does not work everywhere between Apps
  • Clearly very early state in many places
    • Fonts and design is off in some places like Settings
    • White theme on Cortana
  • Photos app is not as fast as the built in one was in WP8.1
    • Open Photos, wait, wait, there they are, wait, ok
    • Zooming is very slow and don’t zoom in to detail
    • If Photo Management is a big deal to you, you will hate this in this version; I like what was shown at the last Windows 10 presentations, this is not it, yet.
  • I hope you like to hit Shift to get to , character

Do I recommend this for daily Windows Phone:

I honestly would not. I think the performance even at Lumia 830 level is not something that many would want to tolerate. Missed phone call, reboot, call back alone from my personal experience is not good for me. I woke up my phone this morning and it was black screen. Pop battery out, back, boot, back. At least it seems to boot up faster!

I think once the program is widened to other phones with faster chips and in time faster code bakes this would be a smoother beta. [I am really tempted to get the Lumia 930 EU-model as I very much enjoyed my short time with Lumia Icon] I think higher end phones would have enough horsepower to make this OS Preview shine in later iterations. Not at all saying that the final version will be this slow or problematic, again read the large red print – early insider preview .

Do I recommend this on a Lumia for testing?

Absolutely! The deals right now on a Lumia 635 that I have seen are very good $50-100 USD in various stores and promotions.

My personal take:

I will eagerly await the new update. And I am thankful to the Windows team for coming at this with us so soon and the Insider Feedback App integrated in the OS!

I enjoy being on this cutting edge, it is very much reminding me of Windows Phone 7 Series early days, Windows Phone 7.8 and all the great times I had as Windows Phone Developer Microsoft MVP. Good times.