Pocket Life Brings Real-Time Location App to Facebook

Following Glympse into the integration of mobile location-sharing and Facebook, Pocket Web’s Pocket Life mobile social network now lets you see friends’ status updates and other information on a map in Facebook. There are a number of notable differences between Pocket Life and Glympse, addressed in the rest of this post.

Pocket Life was originally created in Vodafone’s Innovation lab in Australia. Its Facebook integration, according to TheNextWeb Australia, is not officially launching until later this week, though you can access it after creating an account and downloading the mobile app. (Current phones with a mobile app include iPhone, BlackBerry, and Nokia, with a Palm webOS app said to be coming soon. Check their handset list of preferred and suggested devices to see if yours is supported. You can also request a download SMS text sent to your phone, which can detect your handset type and activate the appropriate download.)

Pocket Life and Glympse take different approaches to location sharing. First, Glympse lets you see actual user location trails — possibly making it the only LBS (Location-Based Service) app at present to do so. Pocket Life, like most LBS apps, shows static points on a map. Second, Pocket Life displays your accessible status map via a Facebook application, whereas Glympse gives access to maps via items in a user’s Facebook News Feed. Because of this difference, Glympse offers finer-grain controls over who can or cannot see a particular status update. With Pocket Life, there’s no Facebook Connect option. You do have control over which groups of people see your Pocket Life status updates, though that is currently only from your list of contacts within that social network.

In addition to these differences, Pocket Life also has a few features not in Glympse. One is that, similar to the Stuck LBS app, you can post an icon representing your current mood. Another is that you can upload photos, either from your smartphone’s camera or the camera roll, depending on your handset. Now while the Pocket Life Facebook app will mark your photos with icon in the map that you see, clicking on a photo icon does not seem to show a larger view of the photo, at least not on the latest Firefox and Flock browsers for Mac OS X 10.6. On the latest Firefox browser for Win Vista, the map doesn’t show at all.

Other issues they need to deal with include inaccuracy of status locations. I posted a text “pulse” and a photo pulse from my iPhone from the same chair, and the Pocket Life Facebook app’s map shows these in two different locations, albeit not far from each other. Hopefully these are bugs they’ll work out before the official launch. (It’s so new that right now, there are only four Facebook fans of the app, including myself.) They should also fix the FB app’s registration form, as all the fields are required but are not clearly marked as such. Finally, the iPhone has two versions of the Pocket Life mobile app. The Lite version is free, the paid version is US$0.99 — making it the only location-sharing I’ve seen so far that charges. The Lite version limits you to seeing the nearest five connected friends.