March 2015

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Saturday, March 21, 2015

I'm With the Band 

This week I started wearing a Microsoft Band.

I was on a three-person team at work that participated in a health challenge (each of us not gaining weight from before Thanksgiving through Super Bowl Sunday) and won a drawing for Bands for each member.

I had been wearing a fitbit Flex since last June (a Father's Day present) and was surprised by how much seeing the data accumulate helped to motivate me to continue walking regularly and keeping up my daily step count. Another thing that I didn't expect to find so useful was the Silent Alarms that the fitbit supported. It's nice to be able to be awakened without interrupting my wife's sleep. The Band has this too, but only one alarm, and no recurrence. On the other hand, I can set the Band's alarm directly on it, but the fitbit required using the website.

Now, I've stopped wearing the fitbit and am wearing the Band.

One obvious advantage over the Flex is that the time is displayed (newer fitbits have this too), even when not actively using the Band; I missed wearing my watch and have never grown used to taking out my phone to see the time.

Other advantages are the heart rate monitor, workouts, guided workouts, sleep analysis, and the integration with the phone (seeing notifications, text messages, phone callers, calendar events, etc.).

My phone integration is a bit kludgy since I'm using an Amazon Fire Phone which has an OS that is a fork of Android 4.2, required side-loading Google Play in order to load the Microsoft Health app, and the Band expects at least Android 4.3 to use its services correctly (for example, I'm not seeing the social tiles or the weather in the right city...).

Getting the Band has motivated me to switch to a Windows Phone soon (I'm waiting for the Lumia 640 to be released) so that I can take full advantage of the Band (especially using Cortana), and later will upgrade from Windows Phone 8.1 to 10 without having to get yet another phone. I'm sure Microsoft hopes this will be a popular choice.

Again, I was surprised by how much my behavior is affected by tracking activity, especially when the trends are viewable in a nice display like on the Microsoft Health dashboard. If I hadn't experienced it myself, I'd probably be scoffing at people purchasing smart watches to track these things.

I guess this the age of the Quantified Self. We'll see where it goes from here.