Microsoft Band Wearable: 9 Key Issues - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Mobile // Mobile Devices
News
10/31/2014
08:30 AM
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Microsoft Band Wearable: 9 Key Issues

Microsoft has packed its wearable Band with advanced sensors, cloud-powered health insights, and an affordable price. Is Microsoft ahead of the curve in this new mobile market?

to the gym, Microsoft Health will identify which exercise burned the most calories, for example. And if a user wears Band continually, Microsoft Health will track her ratio of restful sleep to restless sleep. Over time, these simple inferences will grow more sophisticated.

Using calendar data, Microsoft Health might recognize whether the number of meetings in your day is affecting your sleep quality, or if your stress levels rise when you have meetings scheduled at a specific time. Similarly, Microsoft's app might compare exercise data from recent workouts to food data you've logged over the same period, which could help you to find the right balance between diet and athletic performance. Microsoft Health will soon integrate with Microsoft HealthVault, which can securely share data with a medical provider.

All in all, Microsoft's pitch is intriguing, if Band's sensors are accurate and if Microsoft Health's Intelligence Engine is as good as advertised. But those are big ifs. Privacy, of course, is another huge concern.

4. Band isn't just for fitness buffs.
Though aimed primarily at fitness enthusiasts, Band could appeal to other types of users as well. If Microsoft Health can really provide insights that address poor sleep and high stress, many people who've never been to a gym might be interested, for example. Microsoft also says Band can track UV exposure, a metric that has more to do with general health concerns than fitness in particular.

Band's 1.4-inch color touchscreen offers 320x106-pixel resolution and a tile-based interface that should be familiar to Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 users. Via the screen, Band can receive notifications and emails from a paired smartphone. Users can reply by tapping pre-defined responses. Band also provides access (with limitations -- see Item 6) to Cortana, the Windows Phone virtual assistant. Cortana can provide information on specific topics, such as traffic conditions or sports scores. Band also has an onboard microphone so users can use Cortana for dictation or to set reminders. Band's screen can also display codes that can be scanned for mobile payments, though right now the functionality is limited to Starbucks.

5. Microsoft's wearables strategy is extremely open.
Microsoft has positioned Microsoft Health as a platform, not only for Band, but also for third parties. At launch, Microsoft announced Health will work with services from Jawbone, MapMyFitness, MyFitnessPal, and RunKeeper. Microsoft expects to add support for additional third-party products and services soon.

Microsoft Health is available not only for Windows Phone, but also for Android and iOS.
Microsoft Health is available not only for Windows Phone, but also for Android and iOS.

Just as importantly, Band isn't tethered to Windows Phone. Some smartwatches -- such as the upcoming Apple Watch -- will only work when paired with a compatible smartphone from the same manufacturer. Band requires a smartphone, but Microsoft supports Android and iOS in addition to Windows Phone. Given Windows Phone's lowly market share, Band would have been DOA if Microsoft had tried to position its new wearable as a pure ecosystem play. But even if Microsoft's hand was forced, Band is more evidence of Microsoft's new cross-platform strategy.  

6. Band still works best with Windows Phone.
Though Microsoft wisely made Band compatible with iOS and Android smartphones, the device still works best with Windows Phone handsets. Cortana functions, for example, are available only when Band is used with a Windows Phone.

7. Band provides fewer limitations than many direct competitors.
Compared to most competitors, Band is very well-rounded. As noted, it's cheaper than many other options and supports all major smartphones. Thanks to its GPS capabilities, it also

Michael Endler joined InformationWeek as an associate editor in 2012. He previously worked in talent representation in the entertainment industry, as a freelance copywriter and photojournalist, and as a teacher. Michael earned a BA in English from Stanford University in 2005 ... View Full Bio

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Previous
2 of 3
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
<<   <   Page 4 / 4
Shane M. O'Neill
50%
50%
Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
10/31/2014 | 10:48:14 AM
Less is more?
Smart move by Microsoft -- at least strategically against Apple -- to release an affordable wristband wearable with features focused on health and fitness and some messaging. It's not trying to be an uber watch that does everything for everybody. The Fitbit is taking the same tack as Microsoft with Surge. If people take to these bands that do 10 things really well, then Apple Watch will seem bloated when it hits the market. We shall see.
BoydMoon
100%
0%
BoydMoon,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/31/2014 | 10:38:37 AM
Re: Hmmmm
Got the same impression ... if MS gets a win, they must be lucky.
malharden
100%
0%
malharden,
User Rank: Strategist
10/31/2014 | 10:29:49 AM
Hmmmm
Is it a coincidence that the coverage of MSFT devices starts with the word "issues" in the title, while the coverage of Apple devices is generally warm and flowery?

 

And the first poster immediately brings up Apple, rather than discuss MSFT's tool?

 

It sort of implies a fixed prism that everything gets viewed through. One might even say a "bias".

 

Just sayin.
jgherbert
50%
50%
jgherbert,
User Rank: Ninja
10/31/2014 | 9:55:18 AM
Re: One to watch (haha, get it?)
The idea that it will integrate with Apple's HealthKit is indeed a fascinating concept. My mind is currently somewhat boggled by the idea. I can only assume then that the wearables unit has been given permission to go try and make money any way it can. There's some sense to that though - I'm fairly unlikely to walk away from Apple's ecosystem just for a wearable band; it would have to be phenomenal for me to even consider it. But if I can buy their hardware and use it with the iPhone, maybe there's a win there, even if there's no Ford Cortana.
Michael Endler
50%
50%
Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
10/31/2014 | 9:40:17 AM
Re: One to watch (haha, get it?)
There is an iOS app to go with Band! And an Android one too. You need Windows Phone for Cortana functions, but compared to a lot of others, Microsoft isn't trying to use its wearable to corner you into its ecosystem.

In fact, at least one report says Band will integrate with Apple's HealthKit, which is really interesting, given that Microsoft Health plays in the same space.
jgherbert
50%
50%
jgherbert,
User Rank: Ninja
10/31/2014 | 9:34:46 AM
One to watch (haha, get it?)
This does look like a nice product. A colleague came back from lunch yesterday carrying a Microsoft Store bag with a shiny new wearable band in it. As he put it, "Well that's my productivity for this afternoon blown."

I'm a little intrigued by the idea of licensing out the hardware components; Microsoft again seems to fear being the one making both the hardware and the software for a product, and is immediately falling back on licensing as a way to spread the love (and risk), even though chances are somebody else can do a better job putting a product together for less money.


Still, the value in all this data - as with all data - is what you do with it. If the MS "insights" are good, that could be a deal-sealer for many people. Now, is there an iOS App to go with it?   ;-)
Michael Endler
50%
50%
Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
10/31/2014 | 9:32:42 AM
Is Band a hit?
Microsoft Band sold out online almost immediately, and there are reports of long line at Microsoft retail stores, which are usually pretty lonely places.

It's too early to say if Band has really inspired demand. After all, Surface models have sold out on the first day too, and in most of those cases, that had more to do with limited inventory than high demand. Still, Band seems to have more positive first-week buzz than any first-party device Microsoft in a while.

Any readers interested in buying one?

If so, were you already interested in wearables? Or is Band the device that finally won you over?

Anyone who'd been waiting on Apple Watch tempted to get Band instead?

 

 
<<   <   Page 4 / 4
Slideshows
What Digital Transformation Is (And Isn't)
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  12/4/2019
Commentary
Watch Out for New Barriers to Faster Software Development
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  12/3/2019
Commentary
If DevOps Is So Awesome, Why Is Your Initiative Failing?
Guest Commentary, Guest Commentary,  12/2/2019
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
The Cloud Gets Ready for the 20's
This IT Trend Report explores how cloud computing is being shaped for the next phase in its maturation. It will help enterprise IT decision makers and business leaders understand some of the key trends reflected emerging cloud concepts and technologies, and in enterprise cloud usage patterns. Get it today!
Slideshows
Flash Poll