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Microsoft Kin One and Kin Two announced: Windows Phone roots with a social slant (updated with video)

Chris Ziegler
04.12.10
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It's finally official: Microsoft Pink -- the product of Redmond's acquisition of Danger -- has just been unveiled as a pair of handsets sourced from Sharp (which made most of Danger's Sidekicks) known as the Kin One and Kin Two. The devices are being marketed as Windows Phones, and while they're ultimately based on most of the same underpinnings of Windows Phone 7, it's a distinctly and totally different experience -- the entire user interface is custom to Kin with a heavy social media slant, a custom browser (we're told it's based on the Zune's browser), and surprisingly, zero support for third-party apps. The displays are capacitive with support for multitouch (yes, you can pinch and zoom in the browser), but there's no support for in-browser Flash or Silverlight.

Kin One -- the phone we'd seen rumored as "Turtle" -- is basically a curved square slider with a QVGA display, 4GB of internal storage, 5 megapixel camera with LED flash, and a full QWERTY keyboard. Kin Two, meanwhile, is the phone leaked as the "Pure," upping the ante with a HVGA display and a more traditional landscape QWERTY slide form factor. It also moves up to an 8 megapixel cam and 8GB of internal storage, but otherwise, the experience is roughly the same as what you get on the One; both phones have WiFi and Bluetooth in addition to their 3G cellular radios. For what it's worth, Microsoft is emphasizing that internal storage really isn't a big deal with the Kin phones, because your entire photo and video collection that you capture using the onboard camera is synced seamlessly with your bottomless online storage; you can access the entire collection from your phone at any time by browsing thumbnails, and if you want the full content, you can download it. Kin comes bundled with a desktop web experience that's entirely based on Silverlight for viewing and sorting just about all of the major stuff that you can see on your phone -- contacts, social network status updates, images, and so on -- and we've got to admit, it looks pretty slick. Keep reading after the break for a lot more info and video!

Gallery: Microsoft Kin One and Kin Two press shots | 20 Photos




A big focus for Microsoft with Kin is the totally new, different, crazy UI, which is based on blocky, simple text, monochromatic elements, and zoomed-in, stylized pictures. The big two features unique to Kin are being called "Spot" and "Loop." Loop is sort of the Kin's home screen, aggregating social content from your friends (Twitter, Facebook, and so on) roughly based on order of priority by how you sort your contents, so you don't have to see as many updates from people you don't follow too closely. Spot, meanwhile, is an ever-present green dot at the bottom of the screen where you can drag content -- just about any content, be it maps, images, status updates, videos -- and share it with contacts. Think of it as an "Attach" button in your messaging client, but on steroids.

Both phones have full support for the Zune music and video experience (but not Zune gaming), and it looks like the Zune HD UI we're accustomed to, just as it does on Windows Phone 7. To loop in the Mac community, Microsoft will be offering a Mac-compatible music side-loader -- in other words, it won't be a true, native Zune client and you won't be able to use it to shop for music, but it'll happily connect to iTunes and sync your non-DRM collection. Both phones also support over-the-air firmware updates, so there'll be no need to tether just for that. Speaking of tethering, data tethering isn't supported.

Verizon is getting the Kin One and Two in the US in May, while Vodafone has signed on as the European partner for a Fall launch. We'll update you on specific pricing and availability just as soon as we have it.

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