Mi Band 2 - 20$ smartwatch

Xiaomi released a very interesting product with the Mi Band 2 - a 20$ fitness band. And while it does not feature the best sport tracking functionality, it can be - with a bit of tinkering - a basic smartwatch.

Setting things up

To get you started, you need the Mi Fit app and a Mi account. Create one outside of the app, because registering within it does not work for some reason. The basic functionality that comes within the Mi Fit app is already quite featured, and has nice functions like notifications, reminders and auto-unlocking your phone, if your Mi Band is near it. Note that most of this only works with an Android device, and this post will focus exclusively on Android. Now, everything should be already working. You can take some minutes exploring the app, and then continue with the tinker stuff.

The interesting part

For this, you will need another app called Notify & Fitness for Mi Band. The app is free, but there are features that need a Pro license. However, I think that the around $2 are well invested, as this app has a ton to offer. Install it and connect it with your band.

Custom notifications

The notifications of the Mi Fit app are very basic and limited and only show an icon. Now, we're going to extend this functionality. Open the side menu of the app and select "Test display". If your band vibrates and shows an icon, then you're super lucky and you may head to the next paragraph. For everyone else, don't worry. Download v2.2.9 of the Mi Fit app from APKMirror, set your phone's language to English US, install it and you should get a prompt to install an update on your Mi Band. Install it, try "Test display" again, and everything should be working fine.

Now we can go into the Notify & Fitness app and go to the Apps section. From here, you can add apps from which you want to receive notificatons and custom tune them individually. For example, you can select from a bunch of icons (these are burned into the firmware of the Mi Band 2 and can't be changed without a custom firmware), filter notifications and even show the text of the notification! If the last thing does not work for you, go into Settings, Advanced and turn on "Force notification text".

To avoid getting the same notification multiple times, make sure you disable notifications from the Mi Fit app.

Button taps

The Notify & Fitness app can also receive button presses of your band. Triggers are press once, twice, three times or lift it and lift it twice (which would look a kinda weird). These taps can then do actions, like play/pause music, finding your phone, raise/lower volume and so on. But you can even create more advanced actions using Tasker. Tasker is a brilliant automation app. It costs $3 but there is a free, 30-day trial. And it can nearly do everything - Google Now integration, send SMS, device control, HTTP requests and so much more that you can't tell in one blog post. It is like a drag-and-drop programming interface with tons of plugins that add so many cool features.

To integrate it with your Mi Band, open up the Notify & Fitness app, go to "Button" and select Tasker action for lets say double tap. Then you go into Tasker, Profiles and tap the plus icon. Select event, System, Intent Received and enter com.mc.miband.buttonPressed2 (for all events like lift, check out this list). You will be prompted to create a new task (or select an existing one). Give it a name and lets create a Hello World script. For that, we'll just put a notification on the Band. Tap the plus button, select Plugin, Notify & Fitness, Notification and create your Hello World notification. When you're finished, tap your button twice and tada - you just opened yourself a whole world of automation.

What can you do with this? - Everything! I've created a script that tells me my next school subject when I'm in school, gives me information about which subjects drop out, tell me what the menu for lunch is and so on. Another very handy one I made is toggling notifications on the Mi Band, so when I don't want to be interrupted by the vibration, I can disable it by tapping the button three times.

Besides from this, Tasker can do various other stuff and can also be used to create basic apps or Google Now/Assistant commands. There's just so much you can do with Tasker, and if you haven't tried it. check it out now.

In conclusion

Is the Mi Band 2 now a smartwatch? Kinda - it's a watch, but it has to made smart by you. So I think that the Mi Band 2 is more like a tinker kit for me, rather than a perfect, consumer solution that wants to have everything, perfectly out of the box. But if you love to play around with things tech, then you're going to love this. And for about $20, you can't really do anything wrong.


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