FitBit App for Windows Phone 8.1

It seems that great things always happens to the Windows Phone platform when I’m on holiday so I miss the early adopter crew which is perhaps a sign I need to take more holidays.

I’ve been using FitBit for nearly a year now and I’ve been happy but today I got happier. I today learnt that the official Windows Phone app for FitBit was released last week for Windows Phone 8.1 and when used on a Nokia Lumia device running the Lumia Cyan firmware update allows you to sync the FitBit Flex device. This is obviously not new as it’s something that Android and iOS users have been doing since the inception of FitBit but for us fellow Windows Phone users, we have been tied and limited to using the FitBit Connect service for Windows PC. It was only for the work of a fellow Windows Phone community user that we’ve had any application at all which has been great to have but it just sadly lacked the ability to sync with the phone.

FitBit App Dashboard  FitBit App Steps
FitBit App Friends  FitBit App Flex Settings

The new official FitBit app for Windows Phone has everything you need to use FitBit Flex or Force devices without being tied to a PC for the ability to access your data, sync or manage your device. The dashboard home screen as shown above includes all of your steps, distance travelled, active minutes and calories. We had this available to us previously in the community app but what is new is that we can now click the steps or distance bars and we get graphs to show the activity history.

I use FitBit Aria wireless scales to weigh myself so my weight is shown and tracked also on the dashboard but I’m not going to give you anything to laugh at by sharing that graph. Swipe right and the friends list shows you the steps ranking for you and your friends which we had before in the community app too. What is totally new for us is the management of the Flex or Force FitBit devices. As you can see in the last screenshot, I can configure my Flex Silent Alarms, my goals, which wrist I wear the Flex on and I can sync it too to get the new alarms and goals down to the device.

FitBit Flex Bluetooth Paired

When I first used the app, I noticed that it wasn’t pulling anything from my Flex. Reading the FAQs on the FitBit website, it says that you need to do nothing to manage the connection to the Flex other than having your Bluetooth turned on, on the device however it just wasn’t working. I decided to head into the Bluetooth Settings menu and pair the Flex anyway and it started working. Turns out for me that the reason for this was that my phone had seen my wife’s Flex first and paired with that, so I closed the app, deleted the pairing for her Flex and paired with my own then the app started to sync properly, happy days.

What I will be interested to see over the coming days and weeks is how the constant chatter between my phone and my FitBit Flex device will effect battery life for them both, whether I’m going to see the phone draining at a faster rate or whether the Bluetooth 4.0 LE connection really is as low energy as it claims to be.

RSA SecurID Software Token for Windows Phone

After waiting and wanting for several years since the start of the Windows Phone operating system era, it looks like EMC (nee RSA) have finally decided that Windows Phone is worth it’s salt as a platform and released an app. The page on the EMC/RSA site which led me to the discovery is at http://www.emc.com/security/rsa-securid/rsa-securid-software-authenticators/ms-windows.htm.

I was actually on the site looking for a download of the Windows client app for the RSA SecurID but my eyes caught glance of an image in the bottom left of the page (screenshot below). The image on the site clearly depicted a Windows Phone (although the image actually a screenshot of the Windows Phone emulator) which left me intruiged.

RSA SecurID for Windows Phone

Excited about the prospect of finally getting the RSA SecurID app for Windows Phone (yes, I am a sad individual), I looked at the Windows Phone Store and sure enough, there is an RSA app there at http://www.windowsphone.com/en-gb/store/app/rsa-securid/5bb8f454-7a2f-4818-b3fb-2570fe7e2f6a. The date and time stamp on the store listing suggests that version 1.0.0.0 was published to the store on the 19th December 2012, but I’m sure this is wrong because I’ve definatly looked for the RSA SecurID app in the last three to six month period and found nothing. The app description states that it is supporting Windows Phone 7.5 and Windows Phone 8 so there’s good news for owners of Windows Phone handsets which don’t run the latest edition.

I’m pretty suprised that there hasn’t been more noise about this from Microsoft as having this app on Windows Phone opens the platform up to a lot more business customers to whom their RSA powered VPN is mission critical.

Roaming Profiles and Windows 8.1 SkyDrive App

When I updated my PC sometime ago from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1, I encountered an issue where the SkyDrive app and all of the operating system SkyDrive integration ceased to work. It took me quite some time to get to the bottom of it, but the issue stems from the fact that I use a roaming profile, stored on my Windows Server 2012 Essentials R2 server to allow me to get a consistent experience across my home devices.

The cause of the issue was a multiple factor one but it stems from the fact that the SkyDrive app in Windows 8.1 makes assumptions about the current configuration of your PC rather than provisioning everything properly. If you’ve got issues with the SkyDrive app or integration, check the following steps and hopefully this will resolve your issues too.

Force Close the SkyDrive App

Before doing anything else, we need to force the SkyDrive app to close. Right-click the taskbar and select Task Manager. In the running application list in Task Manager, if SkyDrive is shown, right-click it and select the End Task option to forcibly close it completely.

Updating Group Policy

If you are using group policy to control your roaming profiles then this is the first place to check. I have been making useof the Exclude directories in roaming profile User Policy setting to prevent large folders which I’m happy to remain only on my primary computer from roaming onto my other secondary devices.

Group Policy Exclude Directories in Roaming Profile

I use this policy setting to exclude the Downloads, Music, Videos and Pictures directories from roaming into the profile. The reason for this is that I also do not use Folder Redirection for these folders. As the folders are not redirected, Windows will try to by default include them in the roaming profile and with ~30GB of family pictures, that would make for one seriously large profile. Specify multiple folders in this setting by separating them with a semi-colon. I’ve also added the legacy Windows XP folder names here for backward compatibility.

When you use the SkyDrive app in Windows 8.1, it creates a folder in your profile called SkyDrive. This folder will by default attempt to become part of your roaming profile which we obviously don’t want to happen. I’ve also added the folder Dropbox to this exclusion in the event that anyone else in my household tries to use Dropbox and to save their profile from the pain.

My Exclude directories in roaming profile setting is now “Downloads;My Music;Music;My Pictures;Pictures;My Videos;Videos;Dropbox;Skydrive” but your values for this may well vary.

Delete Old SkyDrive Folders from the Profile

When the SkyDrive app has a rough time of it, it creates additional directories. The primary directory is called SkyDrive but failed attempts to sync end up in directories named SkyDrive (x).old where X denotes an ever incrementing number. I had about 50 of these. Delete the SkyDrive directory and any SkyDrive (x).old directories.

Check the SkyDrive UserFolder Registry Key

SkyDrive App Registry Settings

The SkyDrive app uses a registry key to determine the folder in use for syncing and this value needs to be correct otherwise nothing will ever sync. Open regedit and browse to HKEY_CURRENT_USERSOFTWAREMicrosoftSkyDrive. Here you will find a REG_SZ string value called UserFolder. The path here should match the folder path to your user profile. You can cross check this either by browsing the %SystemDrive%Users path or to the %UserProfile% path.

Set the SkyDrive App Attribute in the Registry

This, the final part is actually the most pivotal. The SkyDrive app requires the presence of a registry key to function but the team at Microsoft who made the app didn’t think that someone might be logging onto the PC with a profile built from a previous version of Windows and therefore the required key wouldn’t exist. Ideally the app should check and if this key doesn’t exist, it should create it itself.

Open regedit and browse to HKEY_CURRENT_USERSOFTWAREMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionExplorerCLSID{8E74D236-7F35-4720-B138-1FED0B85EA75}ShellFolder. In this key, right-click in the main area and select New followed by DWORD (32-bit) Value.

SkyDrive App Shell Folder Registry

Name the DWORD value Attributes and set it’s value to 0 (zero).

Launch the SkyDrive App

Once you’ve done all the above, launch the SkyDrive app from the Start screen in Windows 8.1. If you have a lot of files in SkyDrive, you will need to be pretty patient and even if you only have a handful of files, still don’t be too impatient as the app is essentially provisioning for the first time now. After a short delay, you should see all your files and folders appear. Using Windows Explorer at the desktop, you will also now see your SkyDrive files start to sync into the %UserProfile%SkyDrive folder.

SkyDrive App Syncing