kin

If you’re on Verizon or just want an interesting Microsoft off-shoot of their Windows Phone series, then the Kin One (a partnership with Sharp) may be for you. Plus you can have it for the low-low price of $25 (free shipping).

The Kin One, was a device released in April 2010 and can be considered part of the Microsoft-in-transition-what-the-hell-are-we-doing phase of the company. Seriously, Windows Phone 7 was just announced and prepping for release that fall when the Kin One (and Two) came along and confused everyone. What does it run? How is it related to Windows Phone? And most importantly, Why?

Fun fact: the Kin One and Two grew out of the secretive 'Project Pink' at Microsoft...

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It's common knowledge that the Microsoft Kin family of handsets suffered from a short life and quick death, with the hardware only being available for a matter of weeks. The poor devices never really saw the light of day when Microsoft's somewhat 'hip' mobile phones launched back in 2010.

Issues ranged from the hardware being too expensive to having too few apps and being slow and sluggish. Internal videos have now been published that show focus groups testing the Kin (using pre-production units that reportedly changed very little from the shipping product). It doesn't look good at all for the ill-fated devices.

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As a companion piece to my review of the Phonos app, I thought it would be interesting to check in with Andy and get some background on his experiences whilst developing for Windows Phone. Originally, on the team that built the ill-fated Kin devices he has since been working on Windows Phone 8.0 Apollo. Andy shares his experiences with bringing his app to market. He tells us about hurdles hes overcome with the platform, thoughts on WinRT development and much much more... For these insights you’ll need to keep on reading past the break..

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Could the Kin Studio be rising from the ashes and headed to the Windows Phone as the Mobile Studio? For those not familiar with Microsoft's Kin, in many ways it was a scaled down Windows Phone for teenagers. A social networking phone of sorts.

It failed and had a life span measured in months but one glowing success of the Kin experiment was the Kin Studio. The Kin Studio was an online portal to your phone where photos, videos, status updates and messages were synced to. Similar to Windows Live but with more pizzazz.

There have been hints that Microsoft hasn't completely scrapped the Kin Studio concept and a recent job posting might be another such hint. Microsoft is advertising for positions to the Mobile Studio Team. As described in the announcement,

"The Mobile Studio will redefine the mobile phone for millions of everyday users around the world. We are looking for an intuitive and driven User Interface Designer with the ability to conceptualize and lead the design of features built for mobile phones...The candidate will be part of a team that is responsible for extending and evolving the functionality of Windows Phone."

Could the Mobile Studio be a new version of the Kin Studio? Maybe a new addition to the Windows Live services?  Or are we just reading too much into the job posting?

Source: ZDNet

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Just as promised, this morning at 3am Microsoft officially killed KIN Studio--the online media management network--for all active KIN users. The announcement was first made in December and sure enough at 3am we got word the site when offline, making KIN almost useless (though they still do make calls and SMS).

We also heard that the Zune pass, which worked over 3G and WiFi would only work on WiFI afterward, but so far it is still clinging for dear life to cellular--but for how long? Everything else though, whether it was social networking, photo sharing, search near me, posting to photo sites, commenting, etc. are all gone, effectively killing the KIN.

While we never understood the strategy by Microsoft on this one, it's still sad to see it go out like this. However, there are two happy areas: all current KIN owners are eligible for a free new phone from Verizon and the KIN Studio team has been folded into Windows Phone, resulting in some killer media-cloud services---some day. As reported in the Seattle Times, Aaron Woodman, director of the mobile communications business at Microsoft noted that some KIN Studio features will make their way to Windows Phone: "We have a very, very small baby step with Windows Phone Live...It's definitely part of the road map to have enriched services that make the phone more meaningful, and the Web more meaningful."

Thanks, Conflipper, for the heads up

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The title says it all, but let us get into some details about the closing of Microsoft's KIN Studio, which was the backbone in the cloud for the device.

Evidently, come January 31st, people with KINs (all two of you) will lose the ability to do everything over-the-air, except use your Zune Pass over WiFi and email. What exactly is everything? Check it:

  • Feed Reader will stop working
  • Search Near me will stop working
  • Posting Photos to social sites will no longer be possible
  • Most pictures currently on Kin will only appear at thumbnail resolution
  • Posting to Social Networks will no longer work.
  • No comments from the loop
  • Social network contacts will disappear.
  • Loop will stop to work
  • Kin Spot will only send to emails.
  • Social networks only accessed from web browser.

So outside of making phone calls and playing music, the KIN is really, truly dead. Why even bother after that last, half attempt at a re-launch? We have no idea either. But Verizon is trying to make things right by letting users know now to back up their data now and going one step further, allowing them to pick a 3G phone of their choice for FREE. Offer is valid only through March 31st. Attached are some images from the pamphlet that Verizon is sending out to KIN customers. More can be found here.

Thanks, Conflipper, for the info!

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Microsoft's KIN phones have risen from the dead and are once again available through Verizon Wireless. Verizon is listing them under their Feature Phone category with a slight name change. The KIN ONEm is the smaller, bottom slide-out keyboard model and the KIN TWOm is the larger, side slide-out keyboard model.

The KIN ONEm is priced at $19.99 with contractual discounts and the KIN TWOm is priced at $49.99 with the discounts. Either phone will require a voice package of at least $39.99 and it doesn't appear a data package is required (as it was for the previous release). There is no indication as to what the "m" designation is in reference to.  "Much Cheaper" maybe?

I'm not sure how attractive the KIN will be without data but maybe Verizon will have some success this go around by not treating the KIN as a feature phone as opposed to a smartphone.

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Rumors: Kin rising from the dead?

Just when you thought we had heard the last of Microsoft's Kin One and Kin Two, they find a way back into the news.  Even after their death, we saw not only one update but two updates.  Now it appears their absence may be short lived.

The Kin is listed as coming back as early as this quarter on a Verizon device guide, identifying the target audience being young adults/teens. Could this simply be an attempt on Verizon's part to liquidate the KIN inventory that's collecting dust in a warehouse or an effort to revive the Windows Phone?

If it's the latter, Verizon will have to work on device and service pricing. The units will be harder to sell to the younger crowd if they are priced along side other smartphones. We felt that the Kin phones were nice but not for everyone. A step above featured phones but they didn't rise to the level of what we expect from a Windows Phone.

If Verizon can market and price the Kin with that in mind, they might actually sell more than handful of units this time.

via: Precentral.net and thanks to ericn32 for the tip!

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The Microsoft KIN has now received its second software update since being axed back in June. As with the first update, the second round deals primarily with tweaking the KIN's Twitter interface.

Basically, the update allows for Twitter replies to show up on a tweet and The KIN Loop now shows pictures from picture links directly in the shell without having to open the browser.

If you are one of the few owning a KIN, the updates can be accessed through the KIN's over-the-air update system. Speculation on why Microsoft continues to update a dead device range from testing out Twitter functionality that may land on Windows Phone 7 to testing OTA updates.

Then again, these updates may have simply been close to being finished when the plug was pulled and Microsoft didn't want to leave any loose ends.  Regardless of the reasoning it's nice to see Microsoft lending support to those who continue to use the KIN.

via: wmpoweruser.com

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Microsoft updates the KIN

Microsoft's KIN may be dead but it keeps on ticking. Microsoft has released an update for the KIN that offers minor functionality changes. Not enough for resuscitation but the update is reported to include the following:

  • Twitter avatars showing up in the KIN Loop
  • Changes to Twitter status appearance
  • Re-tweets by contacts show up in the Loop
  • Twitter contact profiles show up
  • Twitter contacts can now be pinned to Favorites.

Rumors were circulating that Microsoft was working on a KIN update to give it more functionality that included better Twitter integration. This may have been the last item on the KIN Team's "to do" list before they turned off the lights completely.

The software version is 1.0 build 2814.0 and can be accessed through the KIN's Over-the-Air update system.

[read: wmpoweruser.com]

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We already know that Verizon and Microsoft have pulled the plug on the whole KIN series (see our review), the question then becomes what to do about existing supplies?

We're getting word, confirmed though two sources, that anything and everything KIN gets sent back to...wherever...starting tomorrow. What happens to them is anyone's guess.

That's right folks, we may be on the verge of a fabled E.T. game situation for the KIN-they will perhaps be dumped in a big landfill, where 20 years from now, rare NIB KINS will fetch for thousands of dollars on eBay.

The geek inside of us wants to run out and buy one to keep next to our big-head Han Solo action figure; the analyst in us sees Microsoft trying to erase this mistake from history and think that's OK.

[Thanks, Jason Cipriani, for the tip!]

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Microsoft KIN getting the axe

Wasn't it yesterday we heard rumors of a software update for the Microsoft KIN?  Just as we had hopes a software update would breath new life into the KIN, we are now hearing that Microsoft has pulled the plug on the Windows Phone. The official statement from Microsoft reads,

"We have made the decision to focus exclusively on Windows Phone 7 and we will not ship KIN in Europe this fall as planned. Additionally, we are integrating our KIN team with the Windows Phone 7 team, incorporating valuable ideas and technologies from KIN into future Windows Phone releases. We will continue to work with Verizon in the U.S. to sell current KIN phones."

While Microsoft will site the need to focus on Windows Phone 7, poor sales might have played a role in the decision as well. You also had issues of the KIN not having any apps (YouTube would have been nice), no calender, and pricing issues (hardware and data) that didn't help matters.

The one shining feature of the KIN was the KIN Studio. Hopefully, Microsoft will salvage that feature and find a way to incorporate it into the WP7 picture.

[read: engadget.com]

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While rumors of software updates for the Microsoft's KIN, Verizon is busy slashing prices on the Windows Phones.

The KIN One has been reduced to $29.99 (from $49.99) and the KIN Two's price has dropped from $99.99 to $49.99.  These prices reflect an online discount and requires the standard two-year commitment with Verizon.  The pricing also makes the KIN more competitive with similar Feature Phones.  All that is needed now is that software update to give the KIN a little more functionality and a lower priced data plan.

 

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Jealous of the new KIN UI? No? Well, too bad because now you have the option to run a UI overlay on  your favorite Windows Mobile phone, but without all the limitations.

Turns out someone at Windows Phone Hacker (yeah, new to us too) has come up with a sophisticated looking KIN UI. Seriously, considering what this is it actually looks pretty darn good.

Called 'KinLauncher', it makes available eight tabs on your homescreen, each linking to a core aspect of your phone: messages, email, phone, music, settings, browser, camera and alarm clock.

It might not permanently replace your Sense UI, but hey, it's free and seems like worth a shot if you're bored.  You can grab it right here and after the break, watch a video demonstration of it in action.

[Thanks Saijo, 1800PocketPC]

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Microsoft KIN at Best Buy

The Microsoft KIN has invaded Best Buy. If you are considering the KIN for yourself or your teenager but the cost isn't that appealing, you may want to check out what Best Buy is offering.

The KIN Two is running $49.99 with a Verizon Wireless two-year contract and the KIN One is free with the two-year commitment. Both will require Verizon's data package which will run you about $30 a month.  While it would be nice for a lower priced data package to surface for the KIN, it looks like the KIN's pricing is slowly coming down to reasonable levels.

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Review: Microsoft KIN, Part Three: Performance

In looking at the Microsoft KIN, we've taken a look at the design of the KIN and the KIN's software.  In this last part of the review, we pull everything together and look at the KIN's performance.

As was mentioned at the start, while the KIN is a Windows Phone I don't think it was ever intended to take the place of a Windows Phone running Windows Mobile or Windows Phone 7.  However, after using the KIN for some time now, it is a good alternative for someone wanting more than your standard feature phone but less than a Windows Phone running Windows Mobile.

After the break, we'll run down the KIN's software, camera, phone, and overall performance.

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Review: Microsoft KIN, Part Two: Software

 

While the KIN is being marketed as a Windows Phone, it doesn't run Windows Mobile or Windows Phone 7.  The primary mission, if you will, of the KIN is to keep you in touch with your friends and social networks.  While the KIN's OS is a dramatic departure from the traditional appearance of a Windows Phone, it does a decent job of keeping you in touch with your social networks.  

The KIN may also give us a feel for the social networking abilities the upcoming Windows Phone 7 may have.

In Part One of this review we looked at the design of the KIN phones. While there are design differences between the KIN One and Two, with respects to the software, I can only think of one (the KIN Two has screen rotation).

Hit the break for more on the software, some screen shots and to find out what's missing.

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Review: Microsoft KIN, Part One: Design


The Microsoft KIN has been on the market for a few weeks now and we've shared a brief video tour of both KIN models and now we'll take a closer look at the latest Windows Phone from Microsoft.

Reviewing a single Windows Phone has its challenges and looking at two phones at the same time is really challenging. To help maintain sanity and break things down a little better, we'll separate things into three parts: design, software and performance.

The initial impression of the KIN (both One and Two) is that the phones were more like a feature phone with a little more "feature" thrown in. I don't believe either were designed to replace your Windows Phone running Windows Mobile but instead, to offer an alternative to those who don't need as much.

We start with looking at the KIN's design. While the KIN Two has more of a traditional design, the KIN One compactness stands out. Ease on past the break to read more on the design and what impression it left.

 

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Microsoft KIN Video Overview

We have received review units for the KIN One and Two and over the next few days we'll be taking them out for a test drive to see what these new Windows Phones are all about.

In the meantime, we put together a brief video overview on the two KIN phones. The initial impression of the KIN series is that if your a heavy Facebook or Twitter user, the KIN might be right up your ally. I wouldn't consider it a replacement for your Windows Mobile Phone running Windows Mobile but rather an alternative for those who don't need as much.

Note: In the video it is mentioned that the KIN doesn't have any Function Keys. The KIN does have a function key (the green key) that will allow you to key in numbers and characters. What it doesn't have is function key shortcuts to launch apps such as the browser or email.

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KIN Un-boxing

It looks like the KIN has taken center stage today with regards to Windows Phone news.  Earlier today, Microsoft released pricing and confirmed availability.  We are now seeing a few un-boxing (or should I say un-tubing) videos surfacing for the KIN One (bottom sliding keyboard version).

Initial impressions are that the phone is small and probably feels better with the keyboard extended.  Speaking of the keyboard, it appears well spaced and with the clicking sound that is evident in the videos I would imagine the keys aren't soft to the touch.  The touch screen seems to be fairly responsive but a fingerprint magnet.

It's difficult to properly gauge this Windows Phone without having it in hand but based on the videos, the KIN's OS seems a little cramped.  Items seem to blend together with little separation.  Maybe it's the smaller screen or that I'm used to the larger Windows Mobile environment.  If we can get our hands on a review unit, we'll have a full review up to give you all the highs and lows of this new phone from Microsoft.

Following the break, you can see the initial set-up for the KIN. It has a comprehensive set-up that will import contacts, emails, and appointments from your Windows Live account or help you setup a Windows Live account.

[via: wmpoweruser.com and intomobile.com]

 

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