Thursday, May 13, 2010

One-Two Punch Gives Microsoft ‘Cool’ Factor

Microsoft has been in hot pursuit to develop a phone with more appeal to a younger demographic. Microsoft’s new devices are not meant to compete with smartphones, but, instead, highlight social media attributes, a feature many users of the iPhone admired when it was first released. With the release of the KIN 1 and KIN 2, Microsoft may attract a significant segment of the market looking for more social media convenience, rather than business and professional functionality.

The KINs, which will be sold through Verizon Wireless, are extremely social media friendly. The software of KIN 1 and KIN 2 allow the devices to give their full attention to Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and blogging. Once you’ve connected to all of your accounts on the KIN, your friends’ status updates and tweets will appear on the home screen, as will news updates from RSS feeds you subscribe to. Microsoft refers to this impressive social media concept as the KIN Loop. With either of these new devices, you will constantly be in the loop via popular social media websites.

The KIN 1 and KIN 2 boast easy navigation as you can scroll to the right on the touch screen and create a photo-tiled wall of your favorite contacts for easy access to their e-mail addresses, social media accounts and phone numbers. By scrolling to the left, you gain access to icons for Web access, camera, text messages, e-mail accounts and more. The unique operating system on the KIN 1 and KIN 2 is very similar to that of Microsoft’s Zune HD digital music player. The styles of the tiles are alike and both KINs feature a Zune application.

The most significant difference between the KIN 1 and KIN 2 is the size. The KIN 1 is no bigger than the palm of your hand and has a portrait QWERTY keyboard hidden behind a slide-up touch screen. The KIN 2 is closer to the size of Apple’s iPhone and also features a slide-out landscape QWERTY keyboard. Both phones will target teenagers and college students because of their social media attributes. Unfortunately, users of the KINs will not have access to an app store for downloadable applications right out of the gate but Microsoft has stated we may see something a little closer to the Windows Phone 7 launch. Don’t let that stop you from experiencing the simplicity and originality of the KIN 1 and KIN 2 if you’re social media savvy.

What the KINs lack in smartphone features, they make up for with cool elements like the KIN Spot. The “Spot” is a colored dot at the bottom of the touch screen where you can drag anything you see and send it via e-mail or text message. It’s a remarkable way to utilize the old copy and paste trick. In addition, you can listen to the radio or play unlimited music through the Zune Pass subscription service.

Probably the most notable feature is the KIN Studio. The KIN Studio will automatically back up everything you do on the web, including photo and video uploads, texts and contacts when you log into your phone with a Windows Live or Hotmail account on the KIN 1 or KIN 2. Think of it like a free, more intuitive and in-depth version of the iPhone’s Mobile Me service.

The KIN phones are a preview of what’s to come with Windows Phone 7, Microsoft’s revamped operating system that is due out later this year. It’ll make Windows Mobile 6.5 a thing of the past and will feature similar tiles for finger-friendly navigation, although it will have an expanded feature set and capabilities to better support business users. The KIN 1 and KIN 2 should give Microsoft’s wireless phone line some appeal.

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