Microsoft Band review

Can this sensor-filled fitness tracker really do it all?

Microsoft Band

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Since the Band is slightly different with Cortana, I decided to add an extra page dedicated to the little voice assistant.

As I mentioned before, you can do several things with a Windows phone and Cortana, like use voice commands and respond to notifications with short, pre-written responses.

For Cortana to work with your Microsoft Band, it needs to be installed on both your Windows Phone and our Microsoft Band, though it should show up automatically on the wearable if you have Cortana.

After holding down the Action button for a couple of seconds, Cortana uses the mic on your Microsoft Band to "listen" when you speak, and it displays answers and requests on the phone. I noticed shorter responses can be displayed on the actual band.

Asking "What's the weather in San Francisco?" will pull up the full report on the phone and a short "Right now, it's 62 degrees and sunny in San Francisco" from Cortana directly on the band.

Microsoft Band Cortana

You may also be able to use Cortana with your Android phone - but you'll need to be in the US for this to work right now. Cortana will need to be installed on your phone and Band while you'll also need to download the Microsoft Health app to unlock the feature.

It comes with all the features you get from the Windows Phone version though so it'll work just as well on your Android device.

Using Cortana hasn't become something that's completely necessary to fully enjoy the band especially since my usual handset is an iPhone.

Notes I've created are also stored in OneNote, another service I don't always use. Now if I was able to choose where my notes went (say, Evernote?), I'd feel more inclined to use it.

Telling Cortana to send someone a text has been handy (or relatively handless) as well as vocally inputting calendar reminders. The AI will listen for a certain amount of time then revert to "thinking" as it processes your request. It will then ask if your message is correct to send, prompting you to press the action button.

A tiny keyboard pops up as another option you can use to send messages, or to correct your voice dictated one. It actually works pretty well and has been quite intuitive. Compared to other itty bitty wearable keyboards I've typed on, this one has been the best.

If Cortana makes it to other devices, I'd definitely use it all the time. It's a service that puts the Microsoft Band on a higher level compared to other fitness trackers but it still seems firmly stuck in the Microsoft ecosystem. I've already become surprisingly dependent on my wrist for notifications so performing tasks, even simple ones, would be an amazing bonus.

Cameron Faulkner

Cameron is a writer at The Verge, focused on reviews, deals coverage, and news. He wrote for magazines and websites such as The Verge, TechRadar, Practical Photoshop, Polygon, Eater and Al Bawaba.