9 Nov.

My first week with the Microsoft Band

It’s been over a week now since I started wearing my Microsoft Band and I can say I’m still in love with the device.

While there are several things that frustrate me, there are several things that still amaze me and I find to be of great benefit. I’m also in love with the potential of what this device can do, and am still thankful I happened to be in Seattle when it was launched.

I’ve previously written about some of the pros and cons of the device, as you can read about here and here.

After a week what have I learnt & enjoyed?

  • Charge the device every day (the best time I find is during/around a shower as you can’t wear it anyway)
  • Getting text notifications on my wrist is far less intrusive than checking my phone, and as such is a big bonus
  • Keep your VIP list small (only my wife is on mine) for emails
  • Do NOT enable the notification centre to display on your Microsoft Band, unless you’ve tweaked it so that very little shows up – otherwise you will buzzed every few minutes
  • Deal with the fact that the notifications are not truly bi-directional – I’m sure this will be fixed in the future
  • Paying at Starbucks using only your wrist is very handy
  • You can customise your call & text message replies separate to that of a Windows Phone (I’ve gone so far as to have one which says I’ve seen the message on my Microsoft Band but am not in a position to respond). My good friend and fellow Office 365 MVP Sean McNeill has taken this a step further by adding some humour about having fallen and can’t get to his phone to respond.
  • Having Cortana on your wrist is AMAZING!!!

As I’ve been at the Microsoft MVP Summit in Redmond for the past week I haven’t had the chance to really test out the fitness capabilities of it. Now that I’m back in Seattle and on a more normal schedule I’ll certainly be trying it out this week – so watch for updates.

It’s also been interesting paying for items at Starbucks (we don’t have any of them back in Australia) as each person who has seen me do it has remarked with commons like “wow, that’s cool” or “that’s amazing” which is great to hear.

Something I do want to address is wearability. I’ve seen other blog posts and reviews saying the device is big and clunky. If you look at most men’s watches these days most likely they are wearing something bigger and clunkier. After a week of wear I barely notice that I’m wearing it. It feels as present on my wrist as wearing a watch or Fitbit would.

Having the screen on the underside of my wrist has been slightly noticeable while typing, however normally I use an ergonomic keyboard with raised wrists so I probably wouldn’t notice if that was the case.

I do find the very adjustable strap on the Microsoft Band to be of great benefit. It allows me to make minute adjustments to the tightness of the Band throughout the day based on the thickness of my wrist (due to water retention, temperature, etc.). This is definitely a benefit over my Fitbit Flex.

So my synopsis after a week of use? This device has amazing capabilities. It is very usable and advantageous in its current form. Yes it could do with a lot of improvement, but for a version 1 device and solution it is quite adequate. And as I said earlier – having Cortana on your wrist is AMAZING!!!

 9 Nov.

The Windows Phone app gap starts with Microsoft

In the past week I have attended the MVP Summit at the Microsoft mothership in Redmond.

During this week we were exposed to a lot of content that can’t be shared due to our Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) however one thing I can disappointingly share is that in the “mobile first” view from Redmond: iOS and Android come before Microsoft’s own Windows Phone.

The business sense is justified: iOS and Android make up the majority of mobile devices in the world so if you want adoption of your technologies then they need to be supported.

I feel sorry for the Windows Phone team. While they continue to grow in developing markets due to low cost phones, their market penetration in most developed markets is in the single digits.

A big reason people don’t adopt the platform is due to the “app gap”. In several sessions at the MVP Summit we were exposed to amazing new mobile functionality coming out – only to find that it would only be available for iOS and Android, with Windows Phone at some point in the near future.

It saddens me when I see a popular application or service with links only to the Apple App Store and Google Play marketplaces. I am often surprised when I see people such as our house removalist truck driver using a Nokia 930 and stating that it was a “beast” and that he’s always used Windows Phone since it was released (only a few years ago).

If Microsoft does not treat its own mobile operating system as an equal – why would others? Microsoft has spent billions on developing the Windows Phone operating system, marketing, purchasing Nokia and then laying off most of its workforce. The technology in the operating system as absolutely amazing. The Universal Apps model is a game changer. Cortana…. well it’s hard not to love her.

Windows Phone has so much going for it. If only Microsoft product groups saw it as an equal 3rd and released apps with the same level of functionality (or even higher) than iOS and Android then maybe other developers might do the same, and maybe Windows Phone would stand a chance.