A new Surface and new Lumia smartphones might be what everyone was waiting to hear about at today’s Microsoft event, but the company made it clear it’s still chugging along in another area: wearables.
Microsoft’s newest wearable is called Microsoft Band, the same name as last year’s activity-tracker. The new one looks sleeker than last year’s Band, with a curved, touch-sensitive OLED display coated in Gorilla Glass 3. It now has Cortana integration — if you miss a workout, Cortana will remind you (which could be both awesome and annoying). The new Band also has a barometer, to measure elevation for hiking and stair-climbing.
Like last year’s Band, it offers GPS, heart rate, calorie and sleep tracking, guided workouts and smart notifications. It works with iOS, Android and, of course, Microsoft Windows Phone devices. The new Band is available for pre-order today, and costs $249 — $50 more than the starting price of last year’s Band.
Microsoft says the Band is meant for both seasoned athletes and people who are just looking to improve their daily health and fitness routines. It records metrics like VO2 max, normally found in watches for serious athletes, and even includes automatic shot detection for golf. But, considering features like voice integration and support for apps like Uber, RunKeeper, Starbucks, Subway and Twitter, it is definitely a kind of hybrid device, a smartwatch that doesn’t want to be a smartwatch. Microsoft has thrown in everything but the kitchen sink.
The original Microsoft Band was introduced last fall, and along with it, Microsoft Health, a software platform for all of the data that the activity-tracker recorded. The Band was packed with sensors, let you pay for Starbucks from your wrist, and was even useful when not tethered to a phone (not many wrist-wearables offer GPS without a phone in tow). You could go running with the Band without your phone, and the Health app would later show you where you ran and even break down your run into fast and slow segments.
Next she stood upon her right foot and said: “Hil-lo, hol-lo, hel-lo!” After this she stood upon both feet and cried in a loud voice: “Ziz-zy, zuz-zy, zik!” Now the charm began to work. The sky was darkened, and a low rumbling sound was heard in the air. There was a rushing of many wings, a great chattering and laughing, and the sun came out of the dark sky to show the Wicked Witch surrounded by a crowd of monkeys, each with a pair of immense and powerful wings on his shoulders. One, much bigger than the others, seemed to be their leader. He flew close to the Witch and said, “You have called us for the third and last time. What do you command?”
“Go to the strangers who are within my land and destroy them all except the Lion,” said the Wicked Witch. “Bring that beast to me, for I have a mind to harness him like a horse, and make him work.” “Your commands shall be obeyed,” said the leader. Then, with a great deal of chattering and noise, the Winged Monkeys flew away to the place where Dorothy and her friends were walking.
Wicked Witch took the Golden Cap from her cupboard
Great Oz himself, and driven him out of the land of the West. The Winged Monkeys had also helped her in doing this. Only once more could she use this Golden Cap, for which reason she did not like to do so until all her other powers were exhausted. But now that her fierce wolves and her wild crows and her stinging bees were gone, and her slaves had been scared away by the Cowardly Lion, she saw there was only one way left to destroy Dorothy and her friends. So the Wicked Witch took the Golden Cap from her cupboard and placed it upon her head. Then she stood upon her left foot and said slowly: “Ep-pe, pep-pe, kak-ke!” Next she stood upon her right foot and said.
But the thing was unattractive and clunky, something that became only slightly more understandable when Microsoft said it was licensing its platform to other hardware makers. This new Band shows improvements both in design and in capabilities.
As with all of these early-stage health trackers, the real value proposition is not what they track, but what they can tell you about yourself. This new Band has so many sensors and integrates with so many different apps that it might just be the most feature-filled activity-tracking wristband out there, so until we see what it actually tells us, we won’t be able to say what its true value is. Stay tuned for more.
MICROSOFT HAS THROWN IN EVERYTHING
BUT THE KITCHEN SINK
Then the Lion gave a great roar and sprang towards them, and the poor Winkies were so frightened that they ran back as fast as they could. When they returned to the castle the Wicked Witch beat them well with a strap, and sent them back to their work, after which she sat down to think what she should do next. She could not understand how all her plans to destroy these strangers had failed; but she was a powerful Witch, as well as a wicked one, and she soon made up her mind how to act. There was, in her cupboard, a Golden Cap, with a circle of diamonds and rubies running round it. This Golden Cap had a charm. Whoever owned it could call three times upon the Winged Monkeys, who would obey any order they were given. But no person could command these strange creatures more than three times.
It’s very possible that his shooting schedule could have conflicted with Gotham‘s, but that doesn’t mean his character has to die. For those of you wondering if he really dies, rest assured that the episode ends with a close-up of Jerome’s twisted smile, which is affixed to his face permanently in the afterlife. The boy is dead.