Microsoft Corp. announced KIN, a new Windows Phone designed specifically for people who use social networks and share activities with friends. Brought to the market through partnerships with Verizon Wireless, Vodafone and Sharp Corporation, KIN is designed to bring up a social experience that blends the phone, online services and the PC with new tools called the Loop, Spot and Studio.
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.
“Working closely with our partners, we saw an opportunity to design a mobile experience just for this social generation — a phone that makes it easy to share your life moment to moment,” said Robbie Bach, president of the Entertainment and Devices Division at Microsoft. “We built KIN for people who live to be connected, share, express and relate to their friends and family. This social generation wants and needs more from their phone. KIN is the one place to get the stuff you care about to the people you care about most.”
With KIN, social networking is built into the phone. KIN has a simple interface and a unique hardware design that was developed in partnership with Sharp to create a new kind of social phone.
There are two models called KIN ONE and KIN TWO (pictured). Both phones feature a touch screen and slide-out keyboard. ONE is small and compact, making it a perfect fit for a pocket and to operate with one hand. 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 5 and 8 megapixel cameras in ONE and TWO, respectively, are designed for use in low light with image stabilization and a bright LumiLED flash. The KIN TWO can also record HD video.
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 network. KIN automatically brings together feeds from Microsoft and third-party services such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter all in one place.
Customers can also select their favorite people, and KIN will automatically prioritize their status updates, messages, feeds and photos.
KIN Studio is the online counterpart of this experience. 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 KIN Studio automatically backs up texts, call history, photos, videos and contacts, and populates a personalized digital journal.
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.
The phone has other features 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.