MobiLuck, which started out as a Bluetooth based chat, dating, messaging and file sharing application now has a mobile web based social network. Like MocoSpace, Peperonity, Wadja, ItsMy, Multiply and several others it’s a pure mobile play rather than a mobile front end to a web based social network. MobiLuck focuses on location and presence. The idea is to share your location with friends (and strangers if your feeling adventuresome) so you can meet up with them in the real world. When you log into MobiLuck you see a listing of friends and other users who are nearby. See someone you know or want to meet? MobiLuck lets you open a chat session, IM them with MSN or phone them. Optionally you can receive SMS alerts when a friend is within a certain distance (1km by default).
The mobile web based version of MobiLuck doesn’t really detect your location . That’s not really MobiLuck’s fault, it’s almost impossible for an off portal web service to obtain location data because of carrier policies. To share your location with MobiLuck you have to enter it manually.
Location entry is cumbersome on mobiles at best. MobiLuck uses your IP address to default your country. With Opera Mini it said I was in Norway! (Hint to mobile developers – proxy based browsers like Mini send the user’s real IP address in the
X-Forwarded-For header.) Changing my country to US required scrolling to the bottom of a very long drop down listing what seemed to be every nation in the world. It would have been much easier to just key “us”. Once selected, the country does persist across sessions, at least. I also had intermittent problems saving locations in MobiLuck. I’d enter a full location with street address, city, state and postal code and hit “OK” to set that as my current location and get another screen that said “There are many addresses, please select one” with a list of 3 or 4 addresses, none of them the one I had just keyed! This didn’t happen every time but it did occur often to be annoying.
MobiLuck has an attractive tabbed interface and is generally pretty easy to use except in the critical area of location selection. I like the way the main navigation is implemented as tab bar with 4 tabs; People, Places, Chat, Change Location and Settings. I did find it hard to tell which tab had focus on a phone with the Obigo browser. Fixing that was just a matter of going into MobiLuck’s settings and changing display from “Graphic” to “Text”. The tabs do look and work great with Opera Mini and Nokia Webkit. Another thing I like about MobiLuck is that it’s very easy to sign up using just a phone. All you need is a phone number or email address and a password. I’m sure ease of sign up contributes to MobiLuck’s rapid growth, 130,000 users since launching four months ago. The privacy features in MobiLuck are good too, your location is only shared to friends by default, you can change it to be visible to all, none or a subset of your friends. MobiLuck shows a lot of promise – if they can just make setting your location easy and reliable.
Related: Mobile Social at Wap Review