Microsoft has just unveiled a pair of smartphones developed by Project Pink. These will be inexpensive consumer-oriented models created for people who primarily use their phone for texting, social networking, and music.
“We built Kin for people who live to be connected, share, express and relate to their friends and family,” said Robbie Bach, president of the Entertainment and Devices Division at Microsoft.
Microsoft is calling these Windows Phones, but they won’t run Windows Phone 7. Instead, they will run the new Kin platform, which has a completely different user experience from anything this company has done before.
The homescreen, called the Kin Loop, will be made up of images and posts made from social networking services like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. Users will be able to select their favorite people, and Kin will automatically prioritize their status updates, messages, feeds, and photos.
Videos, images, text messages, Web pages, location and status updates can be shared by dragging them to a single place on the phone called the Kin Spot — the green dot in the user interface.
Kin will include a web browser with pinch-to-zoom, local and Web search by Bing, and an RSS feed reader to pull down information from the Web.
In addition, the Kin-based devices will be the first Windows Phones to feature the Zune experience, including music, video, FM radio, and podcast playback. Users will be able to load their personal collection with the Zune desktop software, or a Zune Pass subscription will let them listen to millions of songs from Zune Marketplace while on the go.
A feature notably absent is a Kin Store, as there will be no way to add third-party software.
All the information stored on these phones will be automatically backed up over the Internet, and a service called Kin Studio. If the device’s memory starts to fill up, older images, texts, and other items will be removed from the device and saved in Studio.
Texts, call history, photos, videos, and contacts are all saves, and used to create a personalized digital journal that users will be able to access through a web browser.
The first two phones running this new platform will be the Kin ONE and Kin TWO, which were designed by Microsoft and Sharp.
Both feature a Touchscreen and slide-out keyboard, but ONE is going to more compact with a 5 megapixel camera and 4 GB of internal storage, while TWO will include a larger screen and keyboard, 8 GB of memory, and an 8 megapixel camera with the ability to record high-definition video.
The cameras on both are designed for use in low light with image stabilization and a bright LumiLED flash.
The Kin models 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.
There is no exact word yet on pricing, but they are expected to be relatively inexpensive.
Microsoft has released some videos showing off the user experience for its Kin models.