So what is Kin? Much like the rumor mill had projected, it’s two different social-network oriented phones: Kin 1, and Kin 2 (How very Seuss of them). Kin 1 is the phone previously known as “Turtle”, a little palm (as in the body part, not the company) sized portrait QWERTY slider with a 5 megapixel camera. Kin 2 was previously known amongst the whisperers as “Pure”, and is a landscape QWERTY slider with an 8 megapixel camera. Both phones are launching exclusively on Verizon in May.
Pictures incoming as soon as possible. Read on for all the details we’ve got so far.
The phones are very much the culmination of Microsoft’s purchase of Danger in 2008. According to three reps we asked, they are not based on Windows Phone 7, and instead use a Silverlight-based platform built from the ground up for these devices. They’re not exactly what we’d call “smartphones” – and Microsoft’s not pitching them as such. There’s no application store as far as we’ve seen. As we predicted back in October, it appears to be lacking a handful of features that folks might expect, including instant messaging and calendar functionality. Battery life “gets you through a weekend” according to a project lead.
The entire platform focuses around two features: The Loop, and The Spot. “The Loop” is your 3 pane homescreen: one pane is your news/social feed, one is your contacts page, and the last is where you access things like the phone and the browser. At the moment, the social “top contacts” supports updates from Facebook, MySpace, Windows Live, and Twitter. “The Spot” is a small circle at the bottom of the screen which you use to share content with your social network; you drag things from your feed (or the browser, texts, etc) into “The Spot”, and then drag over which contacts/networks you want to share that data to.
Similar to the Sidekick series, just about everything you do on the phone is auto-synced to the cloud, from pictures to videos to text. This cloud backend is browser based, and as such should be completely cross platform.
The website where you’ll be able to see all your images and video (unlimited storage, login via Windows Live ID) in a timeline is Kin.com, which is up now. Sharing, feeds, and functionality are similar, but bigger. There is a browser-based Mac sync client whereby you can sync music and media (yes, iTunes stuff), but this is NOT related to Zune and will not work with Zune devices. It is totally separate.