2015 is going to be a big year for wearables. Not only is it the time where VR headsets could see their first commercial releases, but some of the biggest names in technology are launching their own wearable devices. While Apple is arguably the biggest name to do so this year, Microsoft’s upcoming smart Band is a giant one too and could be a real game changer if it’s as good as the software giant claims.
The smart Band is designed to work much like most fitness tracking bracelets and keeps an eye on things like your heart rate, distance travelled, current location, calories burned, steps taken etc. It also watches you while you sleep, giving you insight into the quality of your slumber. However where the Band goes a step further, is that it partners with a number of other fitness applications like Runkeeper, MyFitnessPal, MapMyfitness and Microsoft’s Health Vault.
All of that information is bundled together into the Microsoft Health application, which can therefore give you much more detailed break downs of your workout and day to day health.
Hoping to capture a large market with its new wearable, Microsoft’s Band will be compatible with iOS, Windows and Android smartphones and comes with several pre-installed workouts that you can run and take part in alongside it.
Beyond exercise however, there’s also a number of other functions on the Band, like the ability to ask the digital assistant Cortana questions, and can give you notifications like texts, calls and emails and even lets you go through your calendar to look at upcoming events.
At the time of writing you can pre-order a Microsoft Band for £170, which makes it one of the more expensive wearables out there for basic fitness tracking, but it’s certainly cheaper than a lot of smartwatches – most notably Apple’s – which will be its main competitive group. It’s set for release on the 15th April.
Microsoft’s main issue may its competition. It hasn’t been a very successful hardware company over the years and I do wonder whether Apple’s steamroller PR machine will make too big a splash for people to really notice Microsft’s efforts. Also, as polished as the Band seems, it’s not really breaking the mold.
The smart Band from Microsoft looks like a worthy purchase at its price range, but it doesn’t really do anything we haven’t seen before. It will be interesting to see how it does against the big competition this year.