Everyone else is doing it, so Microsoft following suit was just a matter of course. The inevitable Microsoft Band and Microsoft Health app are available today, as Microsoft rolls out its own fitness tracking platform.
Microsoft Band is the fitness tracker, a thin black band with a touch display that looks like a shrunk-down Lumia, so points for consistency of product design. On the screen, you’ll be able to scroll through tiles much like those you’ll find on Windows Phones. The Microsoft Band has 10 sensors, and can track steps taken, distance traveled, and the like, while being capable of continuous heart rate monitoring and sleep tracking. Built-in GPS means you can track running or cycling routes, too.
There are also your standard smartwatch features, including email previews and incoming call, text, and social media notifications. You can also do voice searches and set reminders and alarms using Cortana, if you’ve paired the Microsoft Band with a Windows Phone. It’s just as functional as any other smartwatch on the market, but by physical design it’s more fitness tracker than smartwatch, which is an important point for anyone who shops for wearable devices based on form as much as function.
Microsoft Health is the software side of Microsoft’s fitness push. It’s more of an aggregator—Microsoft Health will take in data not just from Microsoft Band, but from third-party apps like RunKeeper, MapMyFitness, MyFitnessPal, and Jawbone Up. Microsoft Health will pool that data, analyze it, and give you feedback about how you can change your habits to live healthier.
While Microsoft Band is clearly going to be most useful as a companion to a Windows Phone, it can be paired with iOS and Android devices. That said, with wearables like the Moto 360, the LG G Watch R, and, for iOS, the Apple Watch, I’m not totally sure why you would pair a Microsoft Band with one of those other platforms. Instead, Microsoft Band looks like something meant to bring the mobile Windows platform up to speed with iOS and Android.
Microsoft Band is available today online and in Microsoft stores for $200.