Is Microsoft Band the Device AppleWatch Should Fear?

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Microsoft has had a huge couple of weeks.  The updates have been broad, impacting a whole lineup of products and solutions from the company.  One of those announcements was Microsoft Band, the lifestyle and fitness wearable that has a huge number of sensors and Cortana.  The device went on sale yesterday and it has pretty much sold out of your local Microsoft store and for sure online.

The Microsoft Band, while innovative in design, fundamentally isn’t bringing anything terribly new to the wearable market, especially the fitness market.  Fitbit has somewhat been the standard when it comes to fitness wearables but Jawbone’s Up has also been there as has Nike’s Fuel Band.  But really, when you do a stare-and-compare, you think Fitbit.

When it comes to Smartwatches however, the game is pretty much wide open.  Apple is introduced the AppleWatch two months ago and it was immediately compared to the Fitbit line up and every Smartwatch that any Android based manufacture had ever produced.  What you get past the distortion field however and really look at the AppleWatch, it has some serious flaws.  Like deal breaker flaws.  I’m going to look at three of them:  Cross-platform support, price of entry and ease-of use.

What I’m not going to do is compare the Microsoft Band to anything from Fitbit.  Frankly, there are a lot of people who only want a step tracker or calorie tracker.  They produce some fantastic solutions that, while certainly more limited when compared to the Band, do a great job.  I’m on my 2nd Fitbit in 5 years (they take a beating and keep on keeping on) and it is the only wearable I’ve ever used or considered until the Band was released a couple of days ago.  I think the only way you can do a proper comparison of a Fitbit product to the Band is if you compare the upcoming Surge.  But if you need integration to your Windows Phone and other apps, I think the Microsoft Band will be better.

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Swarm for Windows Phone Updated with New Features

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Swarm for Windows Phone has been updated with several new features including the ability to search your check-in history from within the app.  The update, version 1.2.0.16 for those keeping score, is available now in the Windows Phone store online or through the Store app on your phone.

If you aren’t familiar with it, Swarm is the check-in and meet up app from Foursquare.  This is the dedicated app for such activities after Foursquare separated it from the original Foursquare app which is more about localized content now.  I’m personally not a big fan of the separated apps but I embraced the horror a few months back and have moved along.

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OneDrive Storage Increases Rolling Out to Office 365 Users

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Earlier this week Microsoft announced that Office 365 customers would have their current 1TB of OneDrive storage increased to an unlimited amount.  This was big news and I think it is a show of force by Microsoft that they are serious about being the cloud storage leader in the market.  This morning it appears that this massive increase in OneDrive storage is starting to happen for some users.

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Microsoft and Verizon Working On Lumia Cyan Update

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Months behind their competition, Verizon and Microsoft are finally working on the Lumia Cyan update for customers.  The news comes from Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore via his Twitter account where in two separate Tweets gives everyone an update on the update for Verizon customers.

In the first Tweet, Belfiore states that Lumia Cyan is coming to Verizon but it will be “farther off”

Joe Belfiore Tweet on VerizonThis isn’t great news for Verizon customers given that AT&T has Lumia Cyan and Windows Phone 8.1 out on their devices and T-Mobile will have it out on all of their devices shortly.    Still, I suppose it is progress.  It’s the second Tweet however that made me really scratch my head.

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Bing Rewards App Updated

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Microsoft has released an update to the Bing Rewards app for Windows Phone.  The update brings the app to a level of being an actual app.  The initial release from this summer was little more than a web wrapper for the Bing Rewards site and, as you can imagine, was met with a fair amount of skepticism.  This update should squelch some of those concerns.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Bing Rewards, it is a US-only program where you are awarded points for doing searching on Bing.  Those points in turn can be used to purchase of things like Microsoft Store or Xbox credits, Starbucks cards and the like.  The more you search the more points you get.  The Bing Rewards app lets you keep track of how you are progressing towards a point total or status level as well as shop to spend those earned points.

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Background on The New Microsoft Health

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On the official Microsoft blog, Vice President Todd Holmdahl has posted a lengthy piece explaining the new Microsoft Band and accompanying Microsoft Health app.  In the post, he outlines how Microsoft is leveraging data coming from the device and getting that into the Cloud to manage it and provide it to consumers through the Microsoft Health App for iOS, Android and Windows Phone.

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Microsoft Band Video Posted

Yesterday Microsoft introduced the Microsoft Band, a lifestyle and fitness tracker that brings the company into the wearables market full-tilt.  The $199 unit not only measures your activity but includes 10 sensors that measure things like heart rate, sleep, stress levels and integrates with Cortana on your Windows Phone.  Initially available only in the United States, the Band on the surface looks pretty interesting and is at a great price point when you compare other devices on the market.

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