News by Luke Jones on Thursday October 30, 2014.
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No big press event, no showbiz style launch, but Microsoft has entered the wearable market today, although don't call its "Microsoft Band" a smartwatch. Interestingly, Redmond has avoided the urge to compete with Android Wear and the Apple Watch with a full wrist accessory and is instead targeting the fitness crowd with the Microsoft Band.The device lands as instantly one of the most robust fitness trackers on the market, a direct rival to Sony's recently launched SmartBand Talk, not the Moto 360. The big news here is that the Microsoft Band is cross platform and will work on Android, iOS, Mac, and most Windows devices; clearly Microsoft sees more value in sharing this device than keeping it exclusive, a first for its hardware. Powered by the Microsoft Health Suite, the Band can keep track of heart rate, steps, calorie burn, and sleep quality, and because of its GPS capabilities it can do it without the need of a connected smartphone. Email, Calendar, and even Cortana make it more than just a fitness band though and you can use the personal assistant to set up notifications. It is worth noting that for Cortana's full functionality, you will need to be hooked to a Windows Phone 8.1 device. With smartphone connectivity you can see incoming calls, messages, and of course grab updates such as weather or from social networks. Microsoft has been clever here because the full smartwatch market is very crowded for a niche that is not lighting the retail space alight. Smartwatches tend to lack the full breadth of features that a true fitness tracker does, so Microsoft is in a way undercutting its rivals with lesser tech, but arguably more functionality in terms of what the consumer wants. The Microsoft Band is available now in select US Microsoft stores and from the company online for $199, although it is only running in "very limited numbers".
Luke Jones is the Managing Editor at MobileBurn.com and is the person you need to speak to about the content on the site. Luke studied creative writing at degree level before carving out a reputation as a freelance tech writer. He settled here at MobileBurn, where he reviews devices and contributes to the news, as well as overseeing the site's content and direction.