Microsoft Kin One and Kin Two ‘social’ phones announced

Microsoft Kin One and Kin Two phones

Microsoft have announced their Kin One and Kin Two Windows handsets, aimed firmly at the social networking set.

Microsoft Kin One and Kin Two phones

Microsoft Kin One

The Kin One is a dumpy, curved slider looking like a squished Palm Pre, and comes with a 2.6-inch TFT, QVGA (320 x 240) display, 4GB of internal storage, a 5 megapixel camera with LED flash, plus a full slide-out QWERTY keyboard, a mono speaker, and Zune media player.

Microsoft Kin Two

The Kin Two ups the spec sheet with a 3.4-inch TFT, QVGA (480 x 320) display and a slide-out landscape QWERTY keyboard backed by an 8 megapixel cam and 8GB of internal storage.

Microsoft Kin One and Kin Two phones

Both 3G phones come with multi-touch screens, WiFi and Bluetooth, GPS and run a customised version of Windows Phone 7, with user content synced online.

“What if we took Windows Phone 7 and customised it for a social networking audience,” enquired Microsoft’s president of the Entertainment and Devices Division Robbie Bach in a manner most rhetorical, at the launch event in San Francisco.

“Windows Phone 7 is about simplifying people’s lives, this is about amplifying their lives,” he replied. To himself.

Microsoft’s ‘Kin Studio’ dubree will automatically backs up texts, call history, photos, videos and contacts, and slaps it all up into a personalised digital journal, making it easy to look up your digital history online.

For capturing those late night moments, the two handsets also come with image stabilisation and a bright LumiLED flash.

Microsoft Kin One and Kin Two phones

Socially focussed

In line with its social networking  focus, the home screens are always on and displaying upcoming events, text messages, tweets, or shared images, and whatever else is going on amongst the user’s chums.

“This is a phone that knits together a tight community of kindred spirits…, the phone personifies true kinship between people, technology, friends and customers,” effused Robbie Bach.

Kin Spot

A neat gizmo called the Kin Spot takes the form of a small “hot spot” at the bottom of the screen and users can drag pictures, addresses, web pages, and other media into it, and then drag the faces of friends you want to send the information out to.

Tap on the spot again and you can preview your message, add some text, and choose from MMS or email to blast it out over the airwaves.

Made by Sharp, the handsets will go on sale in the US in May, and they’ll be made available on the Vodafone network in Europe  in Autumn 2010. No prices have yet been announced.

Both handsets both look pretty plain to our eyes, but we could maybe see them gaining traction with the intended market (i.e. the Sidekick demographic who blog and tweet and update so ferociously it’s  like they’re suffering some sort of nervous affliction).

These phones are much more about fun and social networking and that’s what might differentiate them from more upmarket phones like Android and the iPhone – and if they pitch them cheap enough, Microsoft may have a hit on its hands.

Check out the videos here [Microsoft Kin].

Press Release:

Microsoft Ushers in the Next Generation of the Social Phone With KIN, a New Windows Phone

Microsoft, Sharp, Verizon Wireless and Vodafone unveil KIN, a new Windows Phone designed for broadcasting and sharing everyday moments.

REDMOND, Wash. — April 12, 2010 — Microsoft Corp. today announced KIN, a new Windows® Phone designed specifically for people who are actively navigating their social lives. Brought to life through partnerships with Verizon Wireless, Vodafone and Sharp Corporation, 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 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.

KIN is a new social experience from Microsoft Corp. that combines the phone, online services and the PC.

“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.”

A New Kind of Social Phone

With KIN, social networking is built into the fabric of the phone. KIN has a fun, 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 unique 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. 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 New Way to Share

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 unique 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.

Your Phone, on the Web

KIN Studio is your 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 KIN Studio 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.

Music and More

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.

[Engadget walkthrough]

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