Yesterday, the Microsoft band was leaked online after companion apps appeared in the App Store and the Google Play Store. Shorty after, Microsoft announced their own fitness band by posting it on their website.

The Microsoft Band starts at $199 and is currently only available at Microsoft Stores or online when shipped directly from Microsoft. Currently, they are not available through third-party retailers like Amazon – but that is sure to change in the future. Microsoft Band also has the ability to sync with not only Windows Phone, but Android and iOS devices as well.

The Microsoft band is a game changer primarily because it focuses on things that your phone can’t do. While it has email, messaging, incoming calls, and calender notifications like most smartwatches, it also excels in the realm of fitness. Not only does Microsoft Band track your steps and calories, but it also has a built in 24-hour heart rate monitor, UV sensor, and the ability to track your sleep patterns through the companion Microsoft health app. For users that love to run, Microsoft Band features the ability to track running patters via GPS which allows you to save your favorites or plan new routes.

One of the advertising points for Microsoft is that the Band is not completely dependent upon your phone for all of its functions. Users are able to go on a trip or a run without their phone but still have the Band tracking steps, calories, heart rate, and location via GPS. The Microsoft Band also steps up its game by providing users with the ability to use the Windows Phone digital assistant – Cortana – directly from the watch interface. You can ask Cortana the usual questions like inquiring about weather, your schedule, or to search something on Bing using voice commands.

The hardware of the smartwatch is rather standard with a 1.4″ TFT color display with a resolution of 320 x 106 pixels. Inside the watch, you’ll find a 100mAh battery that lasts 48 hours on when the Band is used on optimal settings. It also has a lengthy charge time of 1.5 hours.

However, the band is also missing a core hardware component – a speaker. So, no audible notifications will be played on the smartwatch, and all notifications will be made visible by the display and a vibration. Lastly, Microsoft has partnered with some companies like Starbucks, to enable wireless payment using Microsoft Band. By the way, you even get a $5 Starbucks gift-card upon purchase.

And yes, it tells time.

What do you think of the Microsoft Band? How does it compare to the Galaxy Gear and Apple Watch? Tell us in the comments below!