Microsoft Corp. on Monday announced Kin, a new line of Windows phone designed specifically for people who are actively navigating their social lives. Kin is designed to be the ultimate social experience that blends the phone, online services and the PC with breakthrough new experiences called the Loop, Spot and Studio.
Kin has a simple interface, which is designed to help people publish the magazine of their life by making the people and stuff they love the focus rather than menus and icons. The hardware design was developed in partnership with Sharp to create a new kind of social phone. There are two models called Kin One and Kin Two. Both phones feature a touch screen and slide-out keyboard. Kin One is small and compact, making it a perfect fit for a pocket and to operate with one hand. Kin Two has a larger screen and keyboard, in addition to more memory, a higher resolution camera, and the ability to record high-definition video. The 5MP and 8MP cameras in One and Two, respectively, are designed for use in low light with image stabilization and a bright LumiLED flash.
The home screen of the phone is called the Kin Loop, which is always up to date and always on, showing all the things happening in someone’s social world. Kin automatically brings together feeds from leading Microsoft and third-party services such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter all in one place, making it easier to stay connected. Customers can also select their favorite people, and Kin will automatically prioritize their status updates, messages, feeds and photos.
Another feature, the Kin Spot is a new way for people to share what’s going on in their world. It lets them focus first on the people and stuff they want to share rather than the specific application they want to use. Videos, photos, text messages, Web pages, location and status updates are shared by simply dragging them to a single place on the phone called the Spot. Once all the people and content are in the Spot to share, the consumer can choose how to share, and start broadcasting.
Kin Studio is a phone online. Almost everything created on the phone is available in the cloud from any Web browser. Photos and videos are freed from the confines of the phone and presented in an online visual timeline so they are easy to view and share. The KinStudio automatically backs up texts, call history, photos, videos and contacts, and populates a personalized digital journal so it’s easy to go back in time to relive a crazy weekend or recent birthday. And the Kin Studio gives customers tons of storage to keep all those photos, videos, contacts and texts so they’ll never run out of space on their phone and lose a memory.
Kin will be the first Windows Phone to feature a Zune experience – including music, video, FM radio and podcast playback. With a Zune Pass subscription, customers using Zune software on their PC can listen to millions of songs from Zune Marketplace on their Kin while on the go, or load their personal collection. KIN also has other features customers want in a phone including a rich browser with the ability to share pieces of the Web, local and Web search by Bing, and an RSS feed reader to pull down information on people and stories from the Web.
Kin will be exclusively available from Verizon Wireless in the U.S. beginning in May and from Vodafone this autumn in Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom. Microsoft did not announce pricing of Kin smartphones.