Health Tech: Microsoft Band gets its first update in USA as we still wait for UK release date

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Microsoft Band has been available for three months now in the USA and has got its first large update, adding 12 additional workouts to the fitness band alongside updates to mobile apps.

The 12 new fitness workouts include works from Mark Rippetoe, a best-selling fitness author. Microsoft will make those available on the Band and the mobile apps.

Tweaks to the Microsoft Health app will be available in an update for Windows Phone, Android and iOS. Microsoft is focusing on making its health platform available to everyone, to compete with Google Fit and Apple Health.

Microsoft does seem more concerned with the software than the hardware when it comes to the Microsoft Band, and the lack of supply for the device shows the software giant is not making the fitness band a serious consumer product.

In our research of the Microsoft Band, we found the £131 ($199) fitness band to is reported to  lack the design quality of the FitBit Charge or Jawbone UP24, but Microsoft Health has a management and smart interface for health fanatics.

Microsoft has made the Microsoft Band available to order today in the US, but there’s no word yet on when, or in fact if, it’s coming to the UK.

Microsoft Band: Price

As it’s currently only available in the US, Microsoft’s Band is priced at $199 and there is no UK price yet. That’s £125, which seems like a reasonable guess to us. The Samsung Gear Fit is priced at £180.

Microsoft Band: Features

Microsoft Band Health

The Microsoft Band is powered by Microsoft’s new Health platform, which Windows Phone, Android and iOS users will be able to use even if they don’t own a Microsoft Band. Like Apple’s Health app, it collects and stores data from fitness devices (whether that’s the Microsoft Band or a third-party fitness tracker like the FitBit) to offer up insights to help you live a healthier life.

The Microsoft Band tracks your heart rate, steps, calories and sleep, and feeds all of that information into the Health app. You can set goals, use the Microsoft Band to complete guided workouts, map the routes you’ve run, cycled or hiked using GPS, and more.

In addition to the fitness features, you’ll also be able to connect your Microsoft Band to your smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth to get notifications such as emails, calendar alerts and text messages, which you’ll be able to preview. It’ll also let you know when you’ve got an incoming phone call, if you’ve got a notification from Twitter or Facebook, for example.

There’s a built-in timer and alarm app on the Microsoft Band, too.

For Windows Phone 8.1 users, the Microsoft Band gives you access to Cortana from your wrist. You can ask Cortana to take a note for you, or set a reminder, for example.

Microsoft has also partnered up with third-parties to bring more compatible apps to the Microsoft Band, including Starbucks, MyfFitnesspPal, RunKeeper and more.

Microsoft Band: Design, specs and hardware

The Microsoft Band’s strap is made with plastic and fastened with an adjustable clasp. At present, there’s just the black/grey design, though.

The 1.4in TFT full colour display is 320 x 106 pixels, at 11mm x 33mm.

Microsoft claims that the Microsoft Band will last for 48 hours of normal use, but if suggests that the extended use of GPS could make battery life suffer. However, it’ll only take 1.5 hours to recharge the Microsoft Band, which charges using a USB magnetic connector cable.

As you might expect, the Microsoft Band features lots of sensors, as listed below:

  • Optical heart rate sensor
  • 3-axis accelerometer/gyro
  • Gyrometer
  • GPS
  • Ambient light sensor
  • Skin temperature sensor
  • UV sensor
  • Capacitive sensor
  • Galvanic skin response
  • Microphone

The Microsoft Band isn’t waterproof, but is dust and splash-resistant so should be ok to wear in the rain and will resist sweat. We’ll update this article with UK specific release date information as soon as we uncover it.

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