updated 02:00 pm EDT, Mon April 12, 2010
Kin One and Two reach Verizon in May
Microsoft today took the wraps from Kin, its first self-branded phone line. The series focuses on social networking and centers on the Kin Loop, a home screen that shows Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and Microsoft services. Contacts can be favorited and will take the lead in all parts of the phone UI depending on how often they're used.
Sharing is equally important and revolves around the Kin Spot, a sharing hub that lets users merge media from different sources: they can share websites, media, messages and location info at the same time without having to go to separate apps.
It promises a web sharing component known as the Kin Studio. The portal not only serves as a backup in case contacts, media and messages are lost but also as a Flickr-style way of sharing photos and videos with friends. It automatically populates a journal that can attach all sources of info together based on when they were created.
Kin actually beats Windows Phone 7 to launching Zune on phones and plays and syncs music. Since it has an always-on connection, it can even stream songs from the Zune Marketplace for those that already have a Zune Pass, making storage a possible non-issue. Notably, there will be a Mac music loading content to take music from iTunes, but no shopping from the Zune store.
The first two phones share capacitive touchscreens, sliding QWERTY keyboards and cameras with an extra-bright Lumi LED flash. The Kin One, previously codenamed the Turtle, is the entry level and has a 2.6-inch touchscreen, a five-megapixel camera, 4GB of storage, an FM radio, GPS and Wi-Fi. The Kin Two (formerly Pure) has a larger 3.4-inch screen and an eight-megapixel camera.
Verizon is expected to carry the Kin line in May, with prices to be set later. Vodafone will carry GSM versions sometime in the fall.