Microsoft Kin: Four features that windows phone 7 needs

Microsoft's social networking phones earned mixed reviews, but they did have some redeeming features.

With its Kin line of phones killed, Microsoft has announced that the people who worked on those devices will join the Windows Phone 7 team, incorporating Kin concepts and technology into Microsoft's upcoming mobile OS. Despite up-and-down reviews, Kin did have some redeeming qualities. Even though feature creep is a dangerous thing, here are four things that should make the leap from Kin to Windows Phone 7:

Kin Studio

The name would have to change, obviously, but automatic syncing of photos and video to a cloud server for easy PC access was one of Kin's most praised features. Windows Phone 7 will reach a larger audience than Kin, which could pose a challenge in terms of server space, but if Microsoft can offer Windows Live SkyDrive and Windows Live Sync for PC users, surely it can make room for mobile.

Drag and Drop Media

Known on the Kin as "The Spot" -- another name that needs to be scrapped -- this feature let users drag photos, videos, Web sites, and status updates to a common location on the phone, where they could be sent via e-mail, MMS, or social network. This kind of fluidity is notably absent from the iPhone, which could give Microsoft at least one advantage.

One Big Fat Feed

Windows Phone 7 will include a live feed of photos and social networking updates from your contacts, but what about blogs and Web sites? Kin's feed includes them as well, and Windows Phone 7 should find a way. There may be something chaotic about mashing RSS feeds and status updates into one long stream of data, but it's a great way to kill idle time -- a skill at which any consumer-facing smartphone must excel.

Distinctive Look

Specs and features aside, what makes the iPhone, the Droid, and Blackberry phones notable is how you can spot them from a mile away. The same is true of the Kin One, though I never saw one in the wild. I'm not saying Microsoft should use the Kin aesthetic for Windows Phone 7 -- those designs are a little too funky for the masses -- but it should at least encourage its hardware partners to avoid generic, uninspiring design.

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Jared Newman

PC World (US online)
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