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Kin sometimes out of the loop

The central hub of Microsoft's social hub updates only every 15 minutes as part of an effort to improve battery life. But will this turn off the "upload generation?"

One of the central features of Microsoft's just-announced Kin phone is the "Loop" feature, which shows recent updates from a variety of social networks.

However, not only doesn't the Loop get automatically updated with new posts, but it refreshes itself only every 15 minutes. Those who want updates more frequently have to either open the Kin's built-in feed reader application or lock and unlock the phone. (The Kin automatically fetches new updates when it is unlocked.)

Microsoft characterized the setting as a battery-saving move for the phone, which is aimed at the 15- to 30-year-old "upload generation" and goes on sale next month from Verizon. Pricing has not yet been announced for either the device or for service plans.

"It is our goal with Kin to deliver to people enough battery life to last a typical weekend, from Friday to Sunday," Microsoft said in a statement. "To achieve this, the Kin service intelligently optimizes updates to the phone for times when consumers need them most. When people unlock their Kin phone, for example, the Kin Loop will automatically seek an update. During continuous phone usage, updates will flow down on a 15 minute interval."

The Kin Loop, as seen on the higher-end Kin Two device. The Loop, which features the latest updates from various social networks, is hard-wired to update only every 15 minutes. Microsoft

Although the feed reader program provides more frequent updates from Twitter, MySpace, and Facebook--as well as RSS bookmarks--I wonder how the choice to update the Loop less frequently will sit with the always-connected crowd that Microsoft is targeting with the Kin.

Of course, battery life is always a trade-off. Heavy users of Twitter on other smartphones also have to decide whether they want constant updates and shorter battery life or if they'd rather go longer between charges.

But fixing the update interval on the Loop makes the choice for the user, something that strikes me as a little odd. The update interval is just one of a number of interesting choices Microsoft has made with the Kin phone. Not only doesn't it have an app store--Microsoft said it preferred to go with an integrated approach--but it also doesn't have a calendar program, nor can photos be uploaded to Twitter, although they can be sent to Facebook, MySpace, or Windows Live.

But, as the birth date on my driver's license reminds me, I'm not the intended market. I'm interested to hear more feedback once the target demographic gets a chance to get their hands on the Kin.

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