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Microsoft Kin missing key features

2010-04-14 08:44 BJT

BEIJING, April 13 (Xinhuanet) -- Microsoft has launched the Kin, a mobile phone aimed at younger users and geared towards social networking.

However, both the short and squat Kin One and the wider-screened Kin Two are already receiving criticism with some pointing to limitations and omissions within the software which may prevent it from becoming a threat to lower-priced smartphones.

The software firm says the phones have been created specifically to help people who like to stay in touch with friends and share content.

Fitted with a high-resolution camera, the phone is also the first to access Microsoft's Zune music service. The launch is designed to counter rivals such as Apple, Google and Research In Motion's Blackberry.

Made by Sharp, the Kin handsets will go on sale in the U.S. in May. In Europe, the Kin models will be available on the Vodafone network and will be launched in autumn 2010. No prices have yet been given.

"This is a phone that knits together a tight community of kindred spirits..., the phone personifies true kinship between people, technology, friends and customers," said Robbie Bach, president of the entertainment and devices division at Microsoft.

The Kin Two is equipped with an 8 mega-pixel camera and a built-in flash, while the Kin One possesses a 5 mega-pixel camera. The device also captures HD video. There is a Zune HD media player for video and music playback as well as a built in FM radio. But according to some reviewers the smartphone is let down by failures in its much plugged social networking features.

There is no native calendar nor is there support for syncing a user's Outlook or Google calendars. There's also no native IM client and the Kin lacks support for uploading photos or videos to Twitter. While it is possible to upload videos to Facebook or Myspace profiles, the popular micro-blogging website Twitter is left out though Microsoft says it might be adding these features in future over-the-air updates.

Heavy app users may also be disappointed to learn that there is no software development kit currently available for the Kin phones, nor is there an app store. For now, Kin owners will be stuck with what is preloaded on the device.

With an increasingly saturated market, Microsoft will have some stiff competition. HTC smartphones running Google's Android software and the Apple iPhone still remain the favorite amongst consumers.

Both Android devices and Apple's iPhone offer an extensive selection of apps via their respective online stores. In addition both offer ability to synch with the cloud.

Microsoft has already come in for criticism over the failure to include copy and paste in its new Windows Mobile 7 operating system. This latest effort to enter the smartphone market is unlikely to boost confidence.

Editor: Zheng Limin | Source: Xinhua