We have been patiently waiting for a smartwatch-style device compatible with Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform. After listening to the rumor mill for the past year, Microsoft has finally unleashed the Band, a device that is aimed at health and fitness. Luckily, the Band also acts as a basic watch and serves up notifications for your email, calendar, messages, and more.
The Band is a bit hard to find at the moment due to the fact that Microsoft is experiencing higher sales than expected. However, before you head out and plop down $200 of your hard earned cash, here are five things you should know about the Microsoft Band.
Voice assistance is only available on Windows Phone.
By now you have probably watched the commercial for Microsoft’s Band and have seen voice assistance in action. At first, we were unsure if Cortana would be bundled into the watch or the system would access a respective voice assistant via your Windows Phone, iOS, or Android device.
The answer is that you need a Windows Phone to use Cortana. If you want to check information on the fly with your voice, you are going to need a Windows Phone. Pairing the Microsoft Band will not give you access to Siri or Google Now. That being said, if you are picking up the Band, you are probably a Windows Phone fan to start.
You wear the screen on the inside of your wrist.
Almost every promotional photograph shows users wearing the Band on the insides of their wrists, and yes, that is how it is meant to be worn. The Band is obviously not glued to your wrist, so you can wear it the other way around, but you will be losing out.
First, the Band’s heart rate monitor was placed on the opposite end of the watch, so that when you wear the device, the sensor sits underneath the back of your palm. If you reverse the watch, heart rate readings can become unreliable. Second, the band itself is a bit rigid and doesn’t sit as comfortable when worn the other way around.
Note that we have heard complaints the screen can be a bit easy to scratch, and since it will be face down on the table when you are sitting, you might want to consider picking up a screen protector.
The Band is compatible with other services.
Thanks to Microsoft’s applications and its partnerships with other companies, the Band is third party ready. Users can easily sync their results to my Fitness Pal and Run Keeper. Support for Map My Fitness is coming soon, and Gold’s Gym currently supports the hardware.
Starbucks has also signed up, so you can easily pay for your Starbucks order with your watch, and let me tell you – there is nothing more that makes you feel like you are in the future.
Notifications are available to keep you informed and healthy.
As we mentioned, notifications are available to keep you on the go. Users can receive text messages, incoming calls, emails, calendar updates, and all other push notifications on their wrists. It is worth pointing out that text message replying from the Band does not work with iOS devices due to the locked down nature of the platform.
Health gurus can also take advantage of the unit’s sleep notifications, guided workouts, and 24-hour heart rate tracking. The Band can even measure the UV index, so you can stay protected against the sun before going out on a run (super cool).
The battery life is good, but not what Microsoft promised.
I currently wear a Samsung Galaxy Gear Live device on my wrist and it hardly lasts an entire day. The Microsoft band originally promised to deliver up to 48 hours of “normal use”, but testers are finding the watch lasts only around 24-36 hours in real world usage.
What does this mean? It means that the Band is most likely not going to reach 48 hours of battery life, while on your wrist, but it stills delivers damn good performance. Just be sure to charge your Band when you head to sleep each night and it will become part of your nightly ritual (unless you care about the sleep tracker functionality, then charge it while you are awake).