A single repository for all your health data has been the theme for the later half of 2014. Apple has launched its HealthKit platform and associated Health app with iOS 8. Google Fit launched shortly after Android 5.0 Lollipop. Now Microsoft has taken its turn with Microsoft Health. They’re also bringing their own fitness tracker to market with the Microsoft Band. Let’s take a closer look.
Apple HealthKit and Google Fit are tied to their company’s respective OS platforms. Microsoft is going in a different direction with Microsoft Health. Not only will the platform work with Windows and Windows Phone (which will soon be the same thing), but it’ll work with Android and iOS as well. This is a very practical decision. As good as the latest versions of Windows Phone seem to be, the market is very much dominated by iOS and Android. By the numbers, a lot of those iOS or Android users probably have a Windows machine at work or home.
Microsoft acts much like rivals in that it offers a single vault for health metrics from several third party sources. By no surprise, it’ll track activities, sleep, and more. The initial 4 services are well known: Runkeeper, the Jawbone Up app, MyFitnessPal, and MapMyFitness. The consumer MS Health platforms will also connect eventually to Microsoft’s existing HealthVault service for digital medical records. I don’t know if it’s something that will give them a leg up, but it’s something they didn’t have to invent from scratch.
What really looks interesting is the ability to have metrics based on your work involvement. Microsoft Health will Connect to your Outlook Calendar and email and take your work into account. This could be a copout, it could be a grey area when it comes to sensitive work information, but it’s something different. Overall, this platform looks compelling enough to give a look.
The Microsoft Band is Microsoft’s first wearable device. Like the Samsung Gear Fit, it’s a device that’s halfway between a FitBit and a light smart watch with a thin 1.3″ x 0.43″ Touchscreen. It connects to your device via Bluetooth low energy. As a fitness tracker, it has a collection of sensors including an optical heart rate sensor, accelerometer, gyroscope, GPS, and much more. It also has a UV sensor so you can get sunscreen before your run or hike. It looks to track your activities and sleep patterns with the best of them. However, it is more than that. The Band will display information from you email, SMS and calendar notifications. It’ll also work as a speakerphone via Bluetooth. For Windows Phone 8.1 users, it has an ace in the hole in that it will work with work with your phone’s Cortana assistant.
Overall, the Band is a little pricy at $199. The Gear Fit is $70 less with much the same feature set. The Band will work with far more devices though.
Both Microsoft’s app and Band health tracker look compelling, though the latter is awfully expensive for what it does. What do you think? Are you a Windows Phone user who can take advantage of Cortana? Let us know in the comments.