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In the tech world, rumors usually build up for months before a product gets released.
This past week, that wasn’t the case. During the day on Wednesday, October 29, rumors started to appear online about a mysterious Microsoft Band.
Then suddenly, unexpectedly, Microsoft confirmed the Band later that night. We went from “unconfirmed rumor” stage to “product confirmed” stage in just a few hours!
So it’s understandable that you missed some of the details regarding the new Microsoft Band. Here’s what you need to know about Microsoft’s entry into the smartwatch world:
5) It runs on Android, iOS, and Windows Phone
Microsoft, in a smart move, decided to make the Microsoft Band open to all major mobile operating systems. Here are the certified Microsoft Band devices:
-iPhone 4S, 5, 5C, 5S, 6 and 6 Plus running iOS 7.1 or later
-Android devices running Android 4.3 or 4.4 (and likely Android 5.0 when it’s released)
-Windows Phones running the Windows Phone 8.1 update
Microsoft has even quietly released those apps onto their respective apps stores. It’s calling the Microsoft Band app “Microsoft Health”. You can view the iTunes listing here.
Early screenshots from the app look really good. It features an aesthetically-pleasing UI and overall, looks like a smart, sexy fitness app.
The only difference between the Windows Phone version of Microsoft Health and other OS versions is that Windows Phone users can interact with Cortana, the voice assistant. So you can talk into your wrist – but that’s the only difference.
4) It has a total of 11 different sensors and input features
The Microsoft Band has more sensors than any other smartwatch or fitness band on the market today. Most fitness bands have heart rate sensors and step-tracking technology. But the Band has all that and more. Here are all the sensors you get with the Microsoft Band:
-Optical heart rate sensor
-Ambient light sensor
-Skin temperature sensor
-Galvanic skin response
-Haptic vibration motor
Compared to other smartwatches and fitness bands, it’s not even close. Many fitness bands don’t even have GPS trackers – they just use your phone’s GPS.
But the real cool part of the Microsoft Band is its unique sensors. No other fitness band has a UV sensor, for example, or a galvanic skin response sensor.
The UV sensor will tell you when you’ve been out in the sun too long based on your UV exposure. The galvanic skin response will measures your stress based on the galvanic response of your skin.
Ultimately, these sensors make the Microsoft Band the most versatile smartwatch/fitness tracker on the market today.
3) It doesn’t look like a normal watch or a smartwatch
The Microsoft Band looks more like a Fitbit than any other smartwatch on the market today. That’s why Microsoft isn’t really calling it a smartwatch: it’s calling the Band a fitness tracker or fitness band.
I like the aesthetics of the Microsoft Band. The slim, narrow display doesn’t take up much room on the wrist. Plus, the sleek black band is a minimalistic fashion accessory that doesn’t necessarily look out of place.
It’s not even overly noticeable. Unlike the Moto 360, it doesn’t dominate your entire wrist, and it’s not much larger than those “Livestrong” bracelets.
Ultimately, the Microsoft Band looks unique. Some people will like that unique appearance, while others will not.
Personally, I think it looks pretty good.
One interesting part about the Microsoft Band is that in most advertisements, the band is seen on the inside of the wrist. Instead of checking the device like you would check a normal watch – on the top of your wrist – Microsoft seems to be encouraging under-wrist usage.
That being said, some advertisements show the watch facing upward, so it ultimately may not matter.
2) It can last 48 hours of normal use and is surprisingly durable
Microsoft claims the Band will last for 48 hours of normal use. Compared to other smartwatches, that’s extraordinarily high. The secret lies in the Microsoft Band’s batteries: it’s got two lithium-ion polymer batteries.
Microsoft does state that battery life will decline when GPS is enabled, but that’s to be expected. We’ll let you know if Microsoft’s “48 hours” promise lives up in real world testing once we get our hands on this thing.
Durability is also key with the Microsoft Band. The device is sweat-resistant and splash-resistant (although Microsoft says you shouldn’t dunk it underwater). Furthermore, it can safely operate in temperatures of 14 degrees to 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
1) It costs $200 and is available starting today
That $200 price point might seem pretty average, but it’s $150 less than the $349 Apple Watch – which has significantly fewer features than the Microsoft Band.
Ultimately, industry critics are already calling the Microsoft Band a “game changer”. Not only is it $150 cheaper than the Apple Watch, but it also looks substantially more useful than its major competitor.
One cool thing about the Microsoft Band’s pricing is that it also comes with a free screen protector, a free $5 Starbucks gift card, free shipping, and free returns.
Microsoft appears to be treating its users generously with this product launch – and I’m not going to complain.
I’m just happy that Microsoft didn’t make it a Windows Phone-exclusive device.
You can learn more about the Microsoft Band at the official Microsoft Store here. You can order it starting today. However, the Microsoft Band is only available from the American Microsoft store – it’s not available in Canada, the UK, or Europe as of yet.