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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There's just one thing that bothers me about Android and where I think Apple and Microsoft have clear advantages: system updates.
Android has many advantages over iOS and Windows Phone. One of them is that there are so many devices running Android, and you can choose the perfect one for you. But this brings also one huge disadvantage: updates.
Every manufacture who uses Android is responsible for their device's updates. No big deal if you have only a few of them and use (almost) the stock version of Google (like Motorola does), but other companies like Samsung or LG have so many phones which run a customized version of Android, which makes updating them very time-consuming.
This is very bad in many cases, the worst one is that it takes so long until updates come out to the users.
Before Android Nougat 7.0 came out, there were numerous rumors that the update principe will change to something that is way faster and easier for manufactures, but as I guessed, there was so new update eco system. Still the same old slow crap.
After putting a bit of thought in a system, I came to a very simple solution:
Drivers don't change often, even on higher versions, so this would be quite easy for manufactures. System apps can be updated via the Google Play Store, so this would be easy as well. Just the custom skin that many companies like Samsung with their TouchWiz (or Grace UX) apply has to be re-created and updated after the Android core update.
So, this system would have clearly many advantages over the old one. It can get rolled out faster and is way easier to make for the manufactures.
I just finished my first game! It's a pixel retro arcade game and very skill oriented. You have to avoid collisions with the planets and collect the stars to get points. Also it has leaderboards, achievements, power-ups and so on. Since I now have a Google Play Developer account, you can grab it there instead of downloading APKs.
Spotify changed the charts API, so the app didn't work correctly. Now it's all working fine. Also because of that, I had to go a few steps back. Spotify removed a few things from the API:
I added a function for auto-updating, so you'll get notified when there is a new version. Of course, you can disable that in the settings.
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