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

Microsoft Wasn't Lying About Battery Life For Their New Smart Band

Oh it gets great gas Milage. Trust me!
Oh it gets great gas Milage. Trust me!

One of the vexing aspects of modern wearable electronics is that they are electronic. Hence, they require batteries, and batteries have finite capacities. We’ve all seen and read of the claims and counter-claims about this phone or that one’s battery life, and in many cases have found that such claims are about as accurate in the real world as a Hyundai mileage sticker in the dealer’s showroom.

Your mileage may vary indeed.

So when the Microsoft Band burst upon the scene two weeks ago the question of its battery life was of concern. Surely a device keeping track of up to 10 sensors including GPS would need a huge battery to keep it going, and where was there room in the Band’s sleek packaging?

MS Band w Batteries LabeledWell it turns out that Microsoft has been very clever, packing in not one but two batteries into places you might not have expected. The wrist band contains two batteries, one on each side of the wrist, that also serve to ‘grip’ the Radius and Ulnar bones in a form-fitting cradle that keeps the Band from slipping around the arm without having to be too tight.

So, two batteries, but what about those sensors? Well Microsoft has released a bit more information about the clever power-sipping scheme they have devised to make optimal use of the Band’s sensor capabilities while maximizing its endurance.  In the case of the heartbeat sensor, it is turned on and off at intervals that vary depending on the activity and setting of the Band. It is turned on a lot when you are running, less often during the day, and even less while you sleep. In each case a useful heart rate profile is captured, without wasting battery life on unnecessarily high resolution. Clever.

First CarBut hopefully, not too clever.  It would be of little consolation if the resulting device was too limited by its electrical frugality to be effective for its intended use. So far, the MS Band is getting rave reviews for its functionality, so the only question would seem to be, what about those battery life claims?

Well Microsoft told us to expect 2 days worth of battery life in typical use, which included a run with GPS activated and sleep monitoring.  I’ve been wearing my Band for 10 days now with a use profile very much like the one Microsoft suggested would be ‘typical’. To be frank, I actually use it at least as much as a smartwatch, receiving notifications, Texts, Alarms and Reminders all to my wrist, with the Haptic feedback on the “High” setting.  Throw in occasional Cortana use as well and I’m demanding a lot from it, with Bluetooth enabled 24/7.

"Seems a Bit Excessive"
“Seems a Bit Excessive”

In my experience so far, Microsoft’s claims are quite accurate.  Unlike certain car companies, Microsoft’s claims that the Band will last 2 days have been completely in line with my experience. On days where I have charged the Band fully at night, the battery holds between 60-40% at the end of the day.  Running it for two days flat takes the battery down to 10%.

Ten days and one user is hardly a statistically valid sample but at least so far I’m happy to see my Band delivering on the battery life Microsoft claimed.

Microsoft hummerNow if only they made cars…

 

 

 

Well, maybe it’s better if they stick to electronics.

Microsoft Band Gets An Update – But It's For Another App's Notifications

microsoft-bandIf you’re one of the lucky ones to have a sold-out Microsoft Band on your wrist when you get to your computer or tablet and open up the Band syncing software you may think you’re in for a treat – an update is waiting for you!

I happily ran through the update procedure without any issue, just follow the onscreen prompt to connect your Band and it’s really as simple as that.

I couldn’t detect any changes to the Band, and the Build: 1.1.1933.0 09 R was the same as before, so I contacted Microsoft Band support to ask was was updated.

It turns out that the update was not to the Band per se, but rather was related to an app that accesses the Notification Center and sends a notification to the Band.

When an app on your phone wants to send notifications to the Band, it has to be modified to do so, as well as the software on the Band has to be modified to accept it.

The Service people tried to find out what app was involved, but apparently it’s only possible to do so indirectly. If you’re interested in finding out, on your Windows Phone, open up the Store and then tap the three dots on the bottom right corner, select “Downloads”, then swipe right to “History”.  There you should see a list of the apps that have been downloaded or updated recently.

In this case, one or more of these apps have been updated to send Notifications directly to the Band.  In order to receive the Notifications, the Band has to update its list of acceptable incoming notifications.  So that’s what the ‘Update’ on your Band was about. And with the popularity of the Band, I expect we will be seeing more of these “Updates” in the future.

When Microsoft does update the Band firmware, we’ll be sure to let you know!

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 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.

Microsoft Band Will Not Be Available Outside Of The U.S. Anytime Soon

microsoft-bandLast night Microsoft has launched their health & fitness SmartWatch called “Microsoft Band” and so far the response online and in retail stores has been extremely positive.

We knew the device was only offered in the U.S. but many have hoped Microsoft Band will soon be launched internationally as well, at least by the holidays.

Well, today we have some bad news for anyone outside of the U.S. eying this handy little gadget – it will not be available internationally any time soon unfortunately, according to Joe Belfiore from Microsoft in a recent tweet:

Microsoft is often known for first releasing and “trying out” the market at home, in the U.S. before deciding to expand internationally so we expect to see Microsoft spend considerable time evaluating the strategy with the Band before committing to a wider release.

Click here for more info on The Microsoft Band.

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.