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KIN: 'Full Bleed, No Chrome'

So a lot has come out in the last 72 hours about Microsoft's KIN project. Some of us get it, a lot of us don't, most of us still have many questions.

One interesting article (opens in new tab), written by Microsoft itself, addresses the design process behind KIN. Although we can see inspiration coming from the same roots as Windows Phone 7, that is Zune (which in turn was inspired by Windows Media Device Center), a lot of KIN comes from a different source: magazines.

Read more after the break ...

As it turns out, Microsoft had another program entitled "Muse" that predated "Pink." Muse was a research project where essentially the big, out of touch corporation tries to figure out what the "kids" want these day in a phone. It basically involved them interacting with, interviewing and investigating the habits and wants of some 2,000 volunteers. What they found out was obvious: social networking plays a big part behind usage habits these days, what with "Twit My Face" being the top three services, hence the concentration in KIN.

The term "full bleed" is used to describe the layout. In printing, this style refers to printing from one edge to the other without traditional boarders and that the print runs right to the edge, without stopping short of it. Microsoft's designers decided that magazines offered the best metaphor for what the wanted to replicate--basically that all of your close contacts have a "story." The magazine with a 'full bleed' layout stuck out the most as it concentrated on the content, therefore it was chosen. As Pioneer Studios creative director Jon Friedman notes:

“We started to think about what magazines do really well. They help you prioritize what to read first. There’s a teaser on the cover, and then there’s a headline, and then there’s the article itself. So there’s really a first read, second read, and third read to that kind of content, and that’s how the structure lives in KIN.”

"No chrome" was an expression we first heard with Windows Phone 7. It means no menus, scrollbars, etc., essentially everything that made up previous Microsoft UI layout. It too became a purposeful design decision. Combined with the magazine metaphor, social networking and full bleed and voila, you have KIN.

While the success of KIN remains to be seen and there are many hurdles for Microsoft to overcome yet, one thing is becoming clear between the designs of KIN and Windows Phone 7: style. This may sound silly, but up till this point, Microsoft has steered relatively clear of any sense of UI philosophy, leaving that to their competitors like Palm, Apple and even HTC.

At least in that area, Microsoft now seems to get it and that's a good thing.

Phil is the father of two beautiful girls and is the Dad behind Modern Dad. Before that he spent seven years at the helm of Android Central. Before that he spent a decade in a newsroom of a two-time Pulitzer Prize-finalist newspaper. Before that — well, we don't talk much about those days. Subscribe to the Modern Dad newsletter!

11 Comments
  • People can say what they want but at least Microsoft isn't simply going down the "I can do that too" UI route. iPhone, Android and the Sense UI are all about icons and widgets. The best thing i'm looking forward to is the hub and panaramic integrated experience where I don't have to return to the start menu every time to do things.
  • Things KIN has much in common with Windows Phone 7. Both are closed platforms. Microsoft approves the apps. Both are rushed to market. Both are missing essential features. KIN is missing IM, calendar, Twitter media upload, universal inbox, Flash, HTML5. It also lacks anything instantaneous, as it uploads data at 15 minute intervals. Imagine taking 50 or 100 photos with the 8 megapixel camera, and then the phone automatically starts uploading everything. The data usage is going to be horrendous. KIN has no photo editing tool to make them smaller. KIN paves the way for WP7 to have a closed platform, where Microsoft will decide what apps are allowed, turning the platform into a walled garden. WP7 is also said to be aimed at the young social networking crowd.
  • Frankly speaking, I doubt KIN will automatically upload photos to the internet; I very much doubt people can't opted out of using that feature. It's just ignorant to be picky about something like that. As for making the photos "smaller", most phones out there allow you to change the resolution. Calling things like html 5 [Really?] a 'missing' feature from KIN is a big mistake. The phone is made to appeal to a certain market, meaning, it's not for people like you. You know those things now called 'dumbphones'? They sell more than smartphones. Look how many of these things Nokia sold:
    http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/2008-04-17-173945271_x.htm Again KIN is good for what it is: a dumbphone. It's meant for people that buy things like the Lg Vu, not those that use smartphones. Get over yourself.
  • So is a "Dumbphone" dumber than a "feature phone"? At least all cheap feature phones run Java ME apps, the most popular phone apps of all. It is unbelievable that Microsoft's KIN cannot run simple Java apps. KIN automatically uploads all photos to Microsoft's server, whether the user likes it or not. It's in the MS literature.
  • Automatically uploading is probably the default feature. And you seem to have your info wrong. It doesn't upload from the phone every 15mins. Check it again, it's the Kin servers from MS that check facebook/myspace/twitter for updates automatically every 15mins and send you any new info. You can, ofc, do that manually, but 15mins was probably picked as a good time to keep bandwidth down (save on data costs), I have my RSS feeds updating every 15mins for example, same with email. It works fine, not too quick and not too long for me. As for the Java ME, meh, MS will add apps in time, and since this and WP7 share the same code base for the most part anything one has the other will probably get as well at some point. Kin is about users who want to keep connected to social networks more than downloading and running some new app. IM? If you're chatting through facebook/twitter why do you care about IM? Though that could probably come at some point IM would drive up the cost of data usage since it's always working when you have it on. That doesn't fit with the cheap target market (teens who don't have a job or aren't rich) for this.
  • KIN is targeted at teens and teens neither use mail, calender, nor Twitter - so no need to include any of these (and there is still a web browser included in case you need accees to any of these services). Flash is missing because Adobe isn't ready (they will included it asap) and IM would be useful, indeed. I think it is missing because it would require too much bandwith in the networks. HTML5 is far from complete - it's not even a standard. Data usage should not be a problem because these phone will sold with unlimited data plans, I guess. Photos might get resized automatically while being uploaded, so no need to edit them manually.
  • I am not the target demographic for these phones, but I think they are pretty slick nonetheless. People who are comparing these to iPhones are totally missing the point... My wife owns a dumbphone, and this phone does everything hers can do, and much it can't. In short, she would use one and probably love it. As one of the sad folks in purgatory... waiting for WP7... there are certainly some features on Kin that would be welcome on the big-boy version of the OS: I think the Studio has great potential. I would love my pics to upload automatically with geotags. That's a feature I would use all the time. I also think the sharing aspects of the Spot have potential. And obviously being able to stream my Zune pass content is a killer feature.
  • i would buy my kids and teens this phone. Its a hot phone for what it do.
  • At that moment, he says, the magazine became the metaphor for KIN phones. It was a thought that would guide them the rest of the way. The team was struck by the ability of magazines to transcend all different types of content, yet discuss and elevate individual stories, represented by pictures, articles and layout.
  • the left one looks like an cheap palm pre copy and the other one looks like its and cheap copy of other sideway sliding cellphones windows operating system has some nice phone like hds and touch pro 2 and so but those phones are ugly specially the cheap copy of the palm pre. i think i just throwed up in my mouth.
  • KIN phones are designed in this case, ones created by friends & family in status updates, text messages, group photos and everything else people share every day. Full bleed is a print-publication term meaning that a page has no empty margins.