Simon Bisson (sbisson) wrote,
Simon Bisson

PSA: enabling Microsoft Band notifications with Action Center

I recently acquired a Microsoft Band smartwatch/fitness monitor. It's a fascinating device, with many more sensors than any other fitness hardware I've used - and with support for Windows Phone, iOS, and Android.

One of its selling points is the ability to deliver notifications from your phone to your wrist, with snippets of emails, tweets and the like. So I was puzzled to find that I was only getting email and SMS alerts, with the Band's notification tile remaining empty. Until the other night when, while I was slumped on the sofa watching TV, my wrist buzzed with a Skype call from a friend.

If Skype was working, why weren't any other notifications getting through?

Time for some detective work.

For work purposes I'm surfing the bleeding edge of Windows Phone, running the latest version of the developer preview of Phone 8.1.1. Before the release of Phone 8.1, Windows Phone devices used banners to display notifications onscreen, overlaying whatever app you're using. Windows Phone 8.1 introduced the Action Center, its notification hub, which collects those various notifications in one place.

One of Action Center's features is the ability to suppress banners, leaving notifications to gather in one place without interrupting what you're doing. It's a low level service, intercepting messages as they're generated.

Looking through my notification settings I quickly realized that a new release of Skype had reset my notification settings, and it was displaying banners - and it was those banners that were being passed through to my Band. Time for a quick experiment: I enabled banners for the official Twitter app, and turned on the Band's Twitter tile.

Huzzah! Notifications appeared on my wrist.

So now it was time to enable banners in Action Center for all my favorite apps, leaving those I didn't want to send messages to my Band only working with Action Center - using it as a notification filter for Band.

Now I get the notifications I want, and my Band is working the way I expected.
Tags: technology; microsoft band
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