Microsoft launches fitness Band

Published: Wednesday 18th March 2015 by The News Editor

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Microsoft will beat the Apple Watch to market with its first wearable device after the Windows maker confirmed its fitness-tracking Microsoft Band will launch in the UK on April 15.

The announcement comes a week after Apple confirmed that its first smartwatch, which has an 18-carat gold version costing more than £8,000, will begin pre-orders on April 10 before going on sale two weeks later.

Now Microsoft has swooped, and its Band – a fitness-tracker that monitors heart rate, calories and sleep quality – will be on sale just days after Apple Watch pre-orders begin.

The Band looks like a fitness-tracker, but comes with a small rectangular screen that can be used to receive and read notifications – similar to smartwatches already on the market. It is now available to pre-order on the Microsoft website.

Microsoft’s Matt Barlow said: “The UK is a mature mobile market with seven in 10 adults regularly accessing the internet via mobile devices.

“Recent studies have shown an increase in adoption of both free and paid health and fitness apps and devices, and we’ve seen research that suggests an estimated seven million people are already using fitness-focused wearable devices in the UK, with that number expected to nearly double by the end of 2015.

“All of this makes the UK a natural next step for the introduction of Microsoft Health and Microsoft Band.”

The Microsoft Band was introduced in the US last year, but sales are being expanded outwards as the company looks to take advantage of the trend for wearable devices.

The most successful project to be placed on crowd-funding site Kickstarter is a smartwatch, the Pebble Time. The Apple Watch lookalike needed 500,000 US dollars (£340,000) to be funded, but in less than a month has already attracted more than 18 million dollars (£12 million) in funding.

The Band comes with a companion app, called Microsoft Health, and crucially will work across different mobile platforms – iOS and Android, as well as Microsoft’s own Windows software. In contrast, the Apple Watch pairs only with Apple devices.

Google’s Android Wear devices also cannot pair with other operating systems. The Health app enables users to collect and monitor all their health and fitness data in one place, as well as set goals and create a regime.

It is the latest in a growing list of such software, with Apple having its own health app that allows users to collect data from all their fitness apps in one place.

The app then creates graphs to show progress. Fellow technology giant Google is very much involved too – its Google Fit application has similar features, and gives the option to create timed workout sessions.

Published: Wednesday 18th March 2015 by The News Editor

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