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It's All in the Family: A Closer Look at the Kin Phones

Last April 12, Microsoft unveiled a new line of phones in its “Time to Share” media event. Previously codenamed Project Pink, the phones were later christened the Kin phones. The Microsoft Kin phone promises to be a unique member of the diverse Microsoft phone family. Unlike the serious, no-fuss Windows Mobile platform and its more hip and modern Windows Phone 7 cousin, Kin appears to be the youngest, most gregarious Windows-CE based platform phone in the Microsoft family.

Kin can be seen as the offspring of Microsoft Mobile and Danger’s T-Mobile Sidekick, a.k.a. The Danger Hiptops. Developers from Danger, Inc., which was acquired by Microsoft in February 2008, were reported to be behind the development of the Kin phones. The Kin phones are also manufactured by Sharp, the same Japanese company that manufactured the Hiptops.

To date, there are two sibling Kins, which are prosaically named Kin One and Kin Two. Kin One is nicknamed the “Turtle” owing to its curvy square shape that looks like, you guessed it right, a turtle. Its main 320×240 QVGA display doubles as a capacitive touch screen, and it also slides out a tiny QWERTY keyboard that lies on top of the phone. It has a 5-megapixel camera with LED flash and standard definition video, mono speakers, and 4GB of internal memory. Kin One’s slightly heavier, pricier sibling, Kin Two (nicknamed Pure), has a larger 480×320 HVGA capacitive touch screen display, a side-sliding full QWERTY keyboard, 8-megapixel camera with LED flash, 720p high-def video recorder, 8 GB of internal memory and stereo speakers. Both phones run on 256 MB DDR RAM, and also has GPS, an accelerometer, Bluetooth 2.1, and a USB slot for charging.

Besides the usual phone specs, the Kins boast of new, social-network optimized features that promise to make social butterflies flutter with delight. The home screen of the phones, called the Loop, greets users with an aggregate of social networking info from Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Windows Live as well as live web feeds. This means that you stay up-to-date at first glance, and can send back your retweets and status updates in an instant. Keeping socially up to tabs is aided by the Spot, which is an ever-present green dot at the bottom of the screen. Almost any content (text, photo, video, maps) can be dragged to the Spot and automatically sent out via SMS, MMS and email to contacts in the user’s Facebook, MySpace or Windows Live account. Support for uploading photos and videos to Twitter, however, is unavailable.

The Kin phones also boast of the Kin Studio, a newly developed server slash cloud storage service. All text messages, call logs, and contacts are backed up in the Studio. Photos taken on both Kin phones are automatically geocoded and uploaded to the Studio as well. Microsoft thus promises an unfailing backup (and a permanent log?) to precious data stored on Kin phones. The Kin Studio can be accessed with a browser, and you can do cloud searching on the Studio via your phone’s Zune-based browser.

Media playback on the Kin phones is achieved using Microsoft’s own Zune entertainment platform. It allows for streaming music via WiFi or 3G, however it does not have support for Flash so you cannot play YouTube or Hulu videos. There’s also a media sync tool to let Mac users grab media files from iTunes and iPhoto onto Kin.

For a phone that has lots of social networking promise, its inherent limitations make it one of those “it’s either-you-love-it-or you-hate-it” devices. For one, there is a 15-minute delay on updates for the Loop, which is frustrating to see in a phone that claims to be “always connected”. Kin also does not have support for Instant Messaging, which means you can tweet or post your status updates on Facebook but are not allowed to chat. On-the-go socialites who need to keep tabs with dates and appointments will also be disappointed with the Kin’s lack of any calender application and inability to sync with apps like Google Calendar. For a device that touts itself as a “social phone”, the social scope of the Kin phones can actually be quite limiting.

The biggest downside to Kin is the inflexibility of its application suite. The Kin phones do not support third-party applications, so the only apps that you can use on the phone are those it came with. For a “fun” phone that targets the teen-to-youth demographic, Kin has no games whatsoever, and of course, has no games for download. It lacks support for Flash and Silverlight, and has no photo editing software for picture-savvy tweens and teens. With the emphasis on data storage via the Kin Studio, the Kins do not have options for expandable memory – no microSD slots here, so downloading and watching gigabytes of video can also be a hassle.

In the end, the Kin phones do rise up to the Microsoft family name – particularly in its fierce brand protectionism. This inability to cooperate with and support other platforms and applications makes the Kins phones quite limiting in scope. The full set of factory-shipped apps, though, are still in the works, and tweaks can still be made until the phones are finally shipped. Let’s just hope that Microsoft has a change in heart and keep our fingers crossed.

Kin You Believe It? Microsoft Kin Phones Up For Grabs Starting May 6th

A leaked internal email from Verizon May 2nd has revealed what many Microsoft phone fans have been waiting for: the company will have its newest Kin phones available for pre-order via Verizon as early as May 6, and will ship out to the market on May 13.

Microsoft had earlier unveiled the Kin phones, dubbed Kin One and Kin Two, in April 12 of this year. In its soft launch, the company promised that the phone will be available in the U.S. exclusively via the Verizon network in May, and on Europe’s Vodafone network in fall 2010. The Kin phones have been dubbed Microsoft’s “social phones” for the “upload generation”, integrating features that are specially geared for the Facebook-and-Twitter-connected tweens, teens, and in-betweens..

The phone has generated some excited buzz, not so much with its social-networking features, but with a slightly racy advertisement released in mid-April that showed a young man putting the Kin phone under his shirt, taking a picture of a bare nipple, and sending a female [presumably] friend a photo of said nipple. Various consumer groups, organizations and parents’ groups have cried foul over the video which allegedly encourages sexting, which is an SMS text version of phone sex. Teenaged fans high on Red Bull and status updates could only snicker. There are no reports yet however, of the Kin phones being packaged with a label overtly warning, “not for use in sexting.”

To date, the Kin phones will only be available in the US and Europe this year. Microsoft, however, has said that it has plans to release the phones in other countries, although currently they are focusing on the said markets.

Microsoft’s New Application Store for the Windows Phone 7

Microsoft is following suit, the trend started by apple and then continued by Google, a very wide application base. Microsoft has recently opened up its portals for the international developers and is offering various tools to help them write applications and games for the new Windows Phone 7 series which is expected to be released into the market in the 4th quarter.

As the presence of a wide app. base is gaining more importance as a deciding factor in choosing a smart phone, Microsoft is showing more interest in its inconspicuously missing app base. The app. developers now have a chance to use Microsoft’s most sought after tools and make app’s that help us do anything from playing games to paying bills online to accessing social networking sites such as Facebook and twitter to in some cases booking tickets online. Such are the apps that Microsoft is targeting.

Some more facts that might have woken up Microsoft from their stupor-
The number users who connect wirelessly to internet are expected to top 10 billion by 2015 which is five that of what it is today. If the present trend is to continue revenues made by the sales of applications alone are estimated to cross $18 billion by 2012 compared to the $5 billion as of today.

Microsoft announced free access to critical tools for developers such as – Visual Studio 2010, and Expression Blend 4 for tools. The XNA Game Studio 4 for the development of various games. It announced free support for Silverlight framework which is essential software to build media rich applications.

The free access provided to the tools grabbed the limelight at the MIX 10 conference for the developers guild held in Las Vegas in march. Microsoft has decided to lay down standards for the minimum configuration that a device needs to have to run Windows Phone 7. By laying down this standard, they say, that are ensuring that the customer gets the optimal performance of the new operating system.

The standards that they have set include a multi-touch touch sensitive touch screen, 256 MB of Random Access Memory or simply RAM, at least 8GB of flash storage, ARMv7 Cortex/Scorpion processor or better, directx 9 acceleration, a five megapixel camera (with flash with a dedicated camera button), GPS, accelerometer and compass.

Joe Belfiore, corporate vice-president, was recorded stating that the new operating system’s design is centred on social networking and is designed for somebody who is” 38 years old, 76 per cent employed and 73 per cent in a partnered relationship”, whom he also goes on to term as life maximizers.

The factor which will differentiate the phones of today from the phone of tomorrow is the ability to sync data from your phone to the PC and from your PC to the phone. Apple offers integration of music from the PC to the phone, Nokia has the Ovi service package, google offers map services. But Aaron Woodman, Microsoft’s director of mobile communications, asserts that the new Windows Phone 7 series will include all the above mentioned features and also integration with Microsoft’s famed gaming console the X-Box. The small screens of your mobile phones are all set to change forever with the launch of the Windows Phone 7.

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Call Now: +1 833-522-1003