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On the morning of Tuesday, October 6th, Microsoft held their fall tech briefing to announce the next generation of Windows 10 supported devices. It’s hard to believe that Windows 10 launched only 10 weeks ago, but Microsoft estimates there are approximately 110 million devices running it! With so much new interaction options available, Microsoft’s taking note and updating some of their old favourites and showing off some new ones for this fall. You’ll be able to see some of the new innovations on Plug-In from some of my colleagues, but I’m here today talking about the new generation of the Microsoft Band.

Microsoft Band 2 is available now for small, medium and large wrists.

The new Band may be the greatest workout helper designed yet and as you’ll see, it takes the functions of multiple wearable and competing devices and combines them into one. In fact, Microsoft feels it won’t just be a wearable. It’ll be like a personal assistant.

What is it?

The Band is Microsoft’s contribution to the wearables market. However, the original had a lot going against it. While it looked nice, I felt there wasn’t much that separated it from the rest of the competition or made it “stick out” so to speak. 

With today’s new Band announcement, Microsoft’s clearly heard the feedback from the general public and have taken steps to ensure that this is one of the most, if not the most comprehensive wearable on the market today.

What’s returning?

You will still have access to many returning features of the Microsoft Band, including its Built-In GPS, UV Monitoring, Guided Workout Advice, Sleep and Calorie Tracking and Smart Phone/Social Notifications. Those aren’t going away at all.

What’s new?

Throughout this morning’s announcement, my thought while following along was “What ISN’T new?” about the Band?  Here are some of the new features of the new Microsoft Band

  • A fully redesigned body. The new Band was specially designed to be breathable, comfortable and have no hard edges. The screen has been redesigned to curve along your wrist better.
  • A scratch resistant AMOLED screen featuring Corning Gorilla Glass 3 technology. Very few wearables on the market offer Gorilla Glass screens to begin with, and almost none offer them in a format designed to curve around your wrist and be responsive to multi-directional touch.
  • Better integration with Cortana. Cortana will now be able to tell you much more, including real-time updates throughout the day that keep you in sync with your daily goals.
  • Better measurable Workout Data. You’ll be able to see the vitals of your recent workout almost immediately through the use of the Microsoft Health app. Band will offload details to the app and you’ll be able to see your workout information as soon as it’s over.
  • A 48 hour battery life with a full charge time of less than 90 minutes. Bear in mind that the use of constant resources like GPS will drain the battery sooner. 

What’s exclusive?

BandGolf.jpgThere are a few features that are completely exclusive to Microsoft Band that I did not mention above.

  • Smarter golf monitoring. Band can also function as a golf GPS and personal scorecard. While this isn’t exclusive to the wearables market, Band will also have the ability to automatically distinguish between regular and practice swings and pick up on your swing types to keep score for you while you’re out on the course.
  • An unprecedented 11 sensors adorn the Band including a barometer for the sake of elevation monitoring. Now in addition to calories burned, heart-rate monitoring and workout statistics, climbers and hikers will be able to see literally how high they pushed themselves. The Elevation monitor works from -300m below sea level to 4877m above.
  • Through heart-rate tracking and through Microsoft’s algorithm generation, a wrist wearable of all things will be able to estimate your oxygen usage through its VO2 MAX inclusion. This is the first time something like this has ever been included in a wearable.

If that isn’t enough, Microsoft is joining forces with dozens of partners to help make the Band a continually comprehensive and fulfilling experience.  Here are some of the partners listed below, including Starbucks, Subway and Men’s Fitness. You’ll soon see a partnership with Loseit as well, giving you integrated access to one of the best weight loss and monitoring apps out there.

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Oh yes, and let’s not forget that it still tells you the time. The new Band will work with Windows Phone 8.1s (or higher) along with iPhone 5s and above running iOS 8.1.2 (or higher) as well as Bluetooth enabled Android devices running Android 4.4 (or higher.)

When does it come out?

Canadians had trouble finding the original Microsoft Band simply because the availability was so sparse. Most Band owners I know had to drive down to the US to get theirs. That won’t be an issue with the new Microsoft Band. In fact, you won’t have to order from or travel to the US this time.

Microsoft Band 2 is available now for small, medium and large wrists. 

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