Can a fitness band actually help you do your job? Maybe if it's the Microsoft Band, a fitness device that integrates a slew of smartwatch features into an affordable, cross-platform package. In addition to tracking your physical activity, the device pairs with your smartphone to deliver alerts and notifications right to your wrist. It also responds to voice commands, letting you quickly save reminders and notes on the fly. And at $200, it's pretty affordable compared to devices like the $349 Apple Watch, set to launch early next year. The Microsoft Band went on sale Thursday on both Microsoft's website and in brick-and-mortar Microsoft stores. Read on for three features that make it good for work.
A good smartwatch can pair with your smartphone to deliver alerts and notifications right to your wrist, so you don't have to worry about missing an important email, message or phone call. But not many fitness bands include that functionality, which is what makes the Microsoft Band a great productivity tool. And while most smartwatches can only connect to a limited number of devices, Microsoft's wearable is a cross-platform device. It pairs with iPhone, Android and Windows Phone devices via Bluetooth to grab alerts and display them on your wrist, where you can't miss or ignore them. No, the device isn't as fashionable as smartwatches like the Apple Watch or Motorola's Moto 360, but it wasn't necessarily designed to be a watch replacement (even though it does tell the time.) Theoretically, business users could wear the Microsoft Band on one wrist and their regular wristwatch on the other.
Support for voice commands is a feature that's unique to Microsoft's fitness band. The watch actually includes Cortana, Windows Phone's voice-activated personal assistant app. Just activate the voice command prompt, and then state a command such as, "Remind me to call Pam at 2 p.m. tomorrow," to receive an alert when the time comes. You can also use voice commands to quickly save notes and even access turn-by-turn directions right on your wrist.
That's not to say that business users should dismiss the device's health-centric features. After all, maintaining a fitness routine during your off-hours is one of the best ways to boost your energy and stay productive during the workday. The Microsoft Band can use a built-in GPS sensor to track your progress and calories burned while you're walking, running or biking, and provide guided workouts at the gym. It can even use a motion sensor to gauge your sleep quality by monitoring your movement during the night, and it has a built-in heart-rate monitor to measure your pulse, another important health indicator.