Microsoft Band firmware, Microsoft Health app updated for Windows Phone & Android

microsoft-bandMicrosoft Band was released in limited supply in the U.S. over two months ago and since then there haven’t been any firmware updates released for the device or significant software updates pushed for the Microsoft Health app until today. The firmware update appears to be very minor and we don’t have exact details on what has been changed but we expect it’s bug fixes and related to performance.

Windows Phone users can now install an update for Microsoft Health app which doesn’t contain any new features but it does however bring “General app fixes and improvements” according to Microsoft.

Microsoft Health app also received an update on Google’s Play Store so Android users can now “control which apps send notifications to the notification center tile on the Band.” The update also adds “Just go to Manage Tiles and click on the Notification Center entry from the list.”

Click here to download Microsoft Health for Windows Phone

Click here to download Microsoft Health for Android

Ordering at Starbucks with the Microsoft Band!

If you’ve taken delivery of your new MS Band, or picked one up at your local Microsoft Store, you will have received a $5 gift card from Starbucks and there’s a good reason for that. Starbucks is a launch partner for the Band, with their own dedicated App pre-installed on your new toy. Using the card is as simple as going to the Starbucks Site, opening your account or registering for a new one, adding the card to your account, and you’re all set. You can also add value to the card by credit card or PayPal, and enable an autorefill option should you wish.

"Our Motto here at MPR"
“Our Motto here at MPR”

Well, I was getting a bit draggy after lunch here today, time shifted from the daylight savings time clock change and staying up late shooting the unboxing video the other day, so I decided I’d try out the Starbucks App and use my $5 on a BIG cup of coffee! Once you have registered your card, opening your Starbucks Band App will get the ball rolling automatically, so Band on wrist, I straggled out to my local Starbucks to get caffeinated! Opening the App is as simple as pressing the Power Button to wake the Band up, swiping right to the Starbucks symbol, and tappingSBucks App Logo on MS Band on it.

This will open up the App which just displays your card number as a bar code. The display keeps this in screen for about 15 seconds, and given how fast the process is you might as well hold off on this until you have made your order. When my turn at the counter came, I received a couple of nice surprises. I was holding my phone and activating the camera to photogra

Did you think I was going to let you buy your coffee on MY Account?
Did you think I was going to let you buy your coffee on MY Account? 

ph the process when my Barista spotted my oh so subtle banana-yellow Lumia 1020 and said:” Oh! Is that a Windows Phone? I’ve been seeing a bunch of them and I think they’re really cool.” Coming only a few weeks after the launch of the new iPhone the recognition of my Lumia was a nice indication of the increasing presence of Windows Phone here in the US.

“Yes it is.” I said, “and it is a really great phone, but the coolest thing I have is actually this.”, pointing to the MS Band on my wrist. “Oh! Is that the new Band thing? That’s so cool. We got a Memo about it today, you’re my first. Can I see it?” So a small group of curious Baristas and Customers began craning their necks to see the Band in action. “Sure”, I said, “Can I use it to pay first?”

"And He waveth His hand, and Lo! Caffeine was Delivered!"
“And He waveth His hand, and Lo!                                            Caffeine was Delivered From Bondage!”

And so I tapped the Starbucks App, the Bar Code appeared, and I turned the inside of my wrist (Yes, I’m an “Innie”, not an “Outie”) at the scanner. My Barista hit the button to activate it, it picked up my code with a discrete beep, and it was all over. Coffee paid for, people began quizzing me about the band and looking it over.

Now, ordinarily, I love being a quasi-Ambassador for most Microsoft products, but in this case,

"Is that the Large size MS Band you're wearing?"
“Is that the Large size MS Band you’re wearing?”

I was unprepared for the questioning and almost fawning over my wrist that insured. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have a good-looking, ok, a GREAT-looking wrist, which leads the eye seamlessly to my large hands (Hello Ladies!), but I can’t remember the last time I was asked to trot it out for a crowd of gawking strangers with lustful longing in their eyes. OK, yes I can, but that’s the stuff I write about for another Site.

"You have no idea the risk you're taking"
“You have no idea the risk you’re taking”

In this case, I had to struggle a bit to retain my composure and answer their questions patiently with some degree of accuracy. Didn’t these people realize I hadn’t had my daily coffee yet? This was not my most sociable hour and being besieged like those guys in the Hai Karate commercials from the 60’s was something I just wasn’t quite ready for.

But I persevered, answered their questions, and prayed my Grande Skinny Latte would arrive soon, with a large-bore IV needle so I could handle the onslaught. Sure enough, the coffee arrived, I gulped it gratefully, and strolled out of the store with the warm embrace of caffeine spreading thru my brain.

"Fantastic! But didn't I order this with an IV?"
“Fantastic! But didn’t I order this with an IV?”

So there you have it. Using the Starbucks App to claim your free coffee via your new MS Band is a quick and easy process, and one that may serve as a great sign of things that may come as other companies develop Apps for the Band, making various activities and transactions as easy as this was. Just make sure you’re ready to be the center of attention for the next few weeks until this high-tech jewel become everyday.

It’s a burden, but someone has to wear it.

Microsoft Band Unboxing & First Impressions Video

Microsoft has just entered the wearable market with a bang, and their take is rather interesting. The Microsoft Band is a wearable fitness tracker and smart watch which they say will make you a healthier person.  Microsoft wants to create a way to help you stay healthy and change your life for the better with providing useful information to you through the data that Microsoft Band is able to capture.

Here’s our quick unboxing and first impressions of what may be the start of something big in the wearable market.

Microsoft Band Unboxing & First Impressions Video

Microsoft has just entered the wearable market with a bang, and their take is rather interesting. The Microsoft Band is a wearable fitness tracker and smart watch which they say will make you a healthier person.  Microsoft wants to create a way to help you stay healthy and change your life for the better with providing useful information to you through the data that Microsoft Band is able to capture.

Here’s our quick unboxing and first impressions of what may be the start of something big in the wearable market.

Microsoft's Strategy for the Band is a Lot Like Google's (but without the creepy personal data abuse thing)

MS Band w MPR Skype CallThe hot new personal electronic device? An iPhone, a Galaxy something, a successor the Lumia 1020 (I wish!)? Naw, those are all so passé. Unless you’ve been living under a rock since Wednesday night you know I’m talking about the Microsoft Band. The wearable fitness/Smartwatch combo that took the world by surprise this week and is already a huge success. Success has many measures. Media buzz is a good start, positive Reviews by respected Sites another, and the Band has received all of these. But the piece de resistance is – the early sell out.

MS Band Sold Out Online
The Early Bird Got the Band!

I grabbed my Band within a few minutes of the initial sale minute – 12:01 am last Thursday. If you wanted to order one on line and didn’t do so within 12 hours, well you’re probably on a wait list now. And lets keep in mind that this is a product with essentially no advance advertising or press, no leaks, a completely surprising launch at midnight in the middle of the week. So its been suggested that Microsoft wanted to sell out, that they did so to create a artificial perception of demand. I don’t buy that for many reasons. Some of which have been explored by Daniel Rubino over on Windows Central. I agree with his analysis, but I think there is more to it. Much more.

Remember Nexus? Google’s own Android phone, and the storm of controversy when it was well received but then Google initially said that they didn’t intend to extend the line as it was, for them, a tool with which to learn from their Customers? Well I see Microsoft as using the Band for the same strategy. Microsoft is in much the same position – they want to see other companies pick up their Health platform and run with it, but they need to show them that there is a market out there for it, and even then they have to attract those other OEMs to their platform by offering something the other platforms don’t.

Enter The Band! They need to have some very good analytics on what customers actually want in order to reduce risk for OEMs that might adopt their platform. In fact, that is a huge selling point to potential partners as it provides them with facts about what their potential customers will want and how they want it, greatly lowering their risk of a product flop. To offer that information, they first need to collect it. I think they are planning on doing so the same way Google did – by building the Band to collect the information that their OEMs will want. microsoft-band-smartwatch-fitness Also, lets be clear about one thing, Microsoft is not just interested on seeing Microsoft Health used by Windows Phone customers. They want EVERYONE to use it, regardless of their phone platform. That’s why Microsoft Health is agnostic, with Microsoft launching Apps simultaneously on Windows Phone, iOS and Android.

If Microsoft can ramp up production to meet a demand from users of all three major mobile platforms, they will sell a lot of Bands, and make it very clear to other fitness band makers that Microsoft has raised the bar and they’re going to have to either beat ’em, or join ’em. And with the great integration of the Band with Windows Phone it’s not going to be worth the effort of anyone hoping to get to that market segment to try and beat them.

We haven’t really heard much yet about how well the Band integrates with Android and iOS, although activities on various Forums suggests it doesn’t talk to Siri. Not surprising as Apple is not noted for encouraging people to use Microsoft products with their own. MS Band Slow DeliveryWe should hear a lot more about this in the next few weeks since most of the on-line orders will not be delivered until this coming Monday (Microsoft’s “2 Day Express Delivery” turned out to be UPS 2 Business Days Ground, which is neither ‘express’ nor ‘2 day’ delivery, something Microsoft should be ashamed of).

If iOS and Android users get a Cortana-less duplicate for the Windows Phone experience with the Band, I still think they will be very happy, all the more reason for OEMs to be attracted to Microsoft Health-based devices.

So, the Band is already a success, but it’s real value to Microsoft lies in the days ahead. Wondering why Microsoft packed an incredible 10 Sensors into the Band? Well they are offering to license any and all of them to OEMs. Think about that for a minute. Essentially, if you want to make a kick-ass fitness band with or without Smartwatch capability, you don’t have to design the sensor hardware, program support, or the cross-platform App to make use of all the data it will generate. Even the analytics can be bought from Microsoft. All you have to do is decide what market segment to go after, design the Band around Microsoft’s sensors, and go! I expect this will be an irresistible opportunity for many OEMs, particularly those in Asia which are often reluctant to invest in creating new technology from scratch. For once, they won’t have to ‘copy’ someone, just license the technology and get to market asap.

I think we will see the impact of the Band/Microsoft Health duo over the next 12 months in the form of a swarm of new entrants into the Fitness/Smartwatch arena, similar to the way that Microsoft licensing Windows Phone 8.x for free to OEMs has produced a swarm of new devices and OEMs with Windows phones in development.

"Healthy, I'll make you healthy!"
“Healthy, I’ll make you healthy!”

If you’d asked anyone last Wednesday what OS those devices would be integrating with your answer would have had to be Android.

Not now. There’s a New Sheriff in town, Partner!

Could Cortana Land On iOS And Android Via Microsoft Band?

microsoft-band-cortana-on-ios-androidMicrosoft Band is the newest wearable device made by Microsoft that is meant to enhance your everyday activities but also provide quick access to calendar, e-mail, text messaging and other communication interactions.

We know that that the Band is equipped with Cortana to let you take notes or set reminders using voice commands and also “give you driving directions and keep you on top of traffic, sports, stocks, weather, and more” according to Microsoft. The catch is that to use Cortana’s personal assistant services, you must have a Windows Phone 8.1 device connected to the Band.

Considering that Microsoft is rumored to be working on expanding Cortana’s availability beyond the Windows Phone, we’re expecting that Microsoft may in fact introduce Cortana to iOS and Android, and the Microsoft Band would be the perfect vehicle to do so. After all, Microsoft Band is branded as a “cross-platform device” and if the wearable gadget takes off on these platforms, it is a real possibility for Microsoft.

What do you think? Will Microsoft Band help bring Cortana to iOS & Android? Let us know below!

Microsoft Band Is Sold Out Online

microsoft-band-sold-outIt’s not clear how many Microsoft Band units were slotted for online sale but in less than 24 hours since the product launched, Microsoft’s SmartWatch has sold out in all wrist sizes online on the Microsoft Store Website. This is perhaps a positive sign that consumers are very excited about this new device and Microsoft has not anticipated such response.

Official statement on Microsoft store website says “Sold out due to overwhelming demand, find Microsoft Band at your local Microsoft Store.”

Today, also there were many reports of huge lineups at Microsoft retail locations across the U.S. as people were eager to get their hands on the Microsoft Band. We got ours and we’re working on a couple reviews so keep an eye out for that!

We’re not sure yet when Microsoft will release more Bands for sale online but we’ll keep you posted so stay tuned if you haven’t gotten yours yet. As a side note, we learned today that Microsoft is likely not going to release the Band device to any international markets for a while.

Meet The Microsoft Band – Microsoft's Cross-Platform Cortana-enabled SmartWatch

en-INTL-PDP-Kronos_PersonalizeUpdate [October 31, 2014]Microsoft Band Is Sold Out Online!

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We’ve heard many rumors about it and witnessed FCC filings detailing Microsoft’s wearable health and wellness wearable device and today the highly-anticipated wearable device has been revealed – it is called The Microsoft Band. It can be pre-ordered through Microsoft now but it is expected to ship by November 1.

The Microsoft Band is offered in Small, Medium and Large size and it’s selling for $199 USD. It is a cross-platform device that can be easily personalized to look and function according to your very own needs.

microsoft-band-smartwatch-fitness

It features Guided Workouts, an integrated 24-hour heart rate tracking as well as a Sleep tracker that monitors the quality of your resting time. Another neat feature is the Skin temperature sensor.

Microsoft’s new SmartWatch also lets you stay productive. With the help of Cortana it allows you to easily interact with your e-mail and calendar. The Microsoft Band also acts as a perfect phone companion as it lets you “preview incoming calls, texts, social updates, weather, and more are just a wrist away. With Microsoft Band, now you can keep your head up, your eyes forward, and your hands free” according to Microsoft.

en-INTL-L-Kronos-4M5-00001-RM2-mnco

The Microsoft Band is super light weighing in at 2.12 ounces (60 g) and is compatible with Windows Phone 8.1 update3 with Bluetooth, iOS 7.1 and 8 as well as Android 4.3-4.4 devices with Bluetooth.

Microsoft has put in some amazing technology behind this new device, such as built-in GPS that records the routes you’ve walked, run, biked, and hiked. It even features a UV monitor that gives you current UV index reading to help you protect your skin.

We’ll have a full hands on review of the Microsoft Band shortly so stay tuned.

Click here to visit the official Microsoft Band page for more details.