ColdwaterQ


Microsoft Band Modifications and Hacking

by: ColdwaterQ on January 4 2016

I recently got a Microsoft Band and as such I have been reading about what I can do to hack on it, and make it do what I want it to do. One of the first things I noticed was that the Associated Press Tile says “Associated Press” along the top of every screen which I found quite annoying. So I read a bit about the Web Tiles and found out that they are really just a manifest file and some icons in a zip archive. So I decide to try and fix the AP tile to work the way I wanted to.

Modifying Web Tile

These are the steps I used to make the change.

  1. Navigate to the https://developer.microsoftband.com/gallery and click on the app to modify. In my case this was the Associated Press app. Then select download.

  2. The download link will open a link like:

 mshealth-webtile://?action=download-manifest&url=https://prodcus0dep.blob.core.windows.net/package/39fd8bd3-6bef-49d7-ada7-0db1b170d2bb.webtile

this will redirect to the mshealth-webtile application if opened on a device with it installed, but it just fails in most browsers on the computer. If you navigate to the url after url= the actual webtile will be downloaded.

  1. Right click on the downloaded webtile and change the extension from .webtile to .zip and unzip the new file.

  2. Change the manifest.json file in the way you want. For me I wanted to remove the hard coded text, so I deleted the textBinding for elementId 1 and changed the textBinding for elementId 2 to include the description and the title. This causes the information to be truncated after so many characters but when the title is vague some times the first few words can help give it context. Also by deleting the first textBinding to id 1 the whole thing becomes one scrollable text box, it doesn’t keep the blank line on the top of the screen. I also changed the source of the RSS feed so that I could make AP tiles for specific topics, like technology.

  3. After modifying the manifest to reflect the changes I opened the Technology specific tile I made and changed the icons to have little ones and zeros under it to differentiate it from the normal one.

  4. At this point you can zip the archive back up, but to do this select the manifest and the icons folder, right click, and select send to Compressed folder. If you just right click on the folder containing those the manifest file and icons folder will not be in the root of the archive and as such the webtile will not work.

  5. Now change the extension of the webtile to .webtile instaed of .zip. and host the file on your website.

  6. Finally navigate to the link mshealth-webtile://?action=download-manifest&url={URL} in your device connected to your band and Microsoft Health should pop up and ask you if you want to install the modified tile.

Creating Own Web Tile

If you just want to make a Web Tile the Microsoft has a nice online tool to help create it for you. It is just generating the manifest file for you, letting you upload 2 images and then compressing it for you. https://developer.microsoftband.com/WebTile

My modified AP Web Tiles

These links will prompt you to install them to your band.

There was not a contact email in the Associated Press Web Tile so I couldn’t ask the developer to make these changes, as such I did it myself. I also couldn’t ask if it was alright for me to distribute these modified versions. If you are the developer and would like me to stop email me and I will do so. Or if you would just like me to change the branding I can do that as well.

Future Work

I was reading the SDK documentation and saw that with it, from an app on the phone I can change the background to any image I want. As such that is the next thing I want to do, assuming I have time and another project that sounds like more fun doesn’t come along first.