Pocket Metaverse iPad App Improves Life In Second Life [Review]

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Unfortunately, Second Life definitely ain’t what she used to be. There have been more than a few headline-grabbing scandals in recent years, user numbers have fallen off a bit and the newest official Linden Labs viewer software hasn’t exactly gotten rave reviews.

However, there is still a very large and very loyal SL contingent that is eager to access their digitized world wherever and whenever they can. Those people have been begging and pleading for a reliable Second Life viewer for the iPhone since day one. Those same people really began clamoring for something more mobile when the iPad came on the scene.

Pocket Metaverse Pro ($2.99) is just that app. With versions for the iPad and iPhone (and free versions to boot), Pocket Metaverse is more than adequate for accessing Second Life and other similar Open Grid virtual worlds while on the go.

If, unlike me, you have healthy and fulfilling relationships with scads and scads of real human beings, you may have never heard of Second Life. “SL” as it’s often called, is a virtual world that was launched by Linden Labs in 2003.

It is a large and somewhat open source metaverse, where nearly everything you see is user-created. There’s live music, roleplaying, gaming, gambling, virtual shopping and of course virtual sex — all there for the taking. Linden Labs boasts millions of users but there are usually around 60,000 avatars logged on at any given time.

Unfortunately neither the iPhone nor the iPad can handle the actual full-on SL experience. Pocket Metaverse was designed to fill the gap as best it could and give users as much Second Life as you could possibly get on a mobile device. I have to say… It’s a pretty good compromise.

In a nutshell, Pocket Metaverse blinds you but lets you plod your way around the grid using an enhanced map view as your eyes. You can teleport around via a simplified and very limited search function but if you plan on using the app very often, it’s best if you build yourself a lengthy list of landmarks to use as a reference. Pocket Metaverse also lets you chat with other avatars that are within range and IM your friends and groups. You can also pay or receive in-world payments from other users and give and receive items if you opt for the Pro app.

In addition to being able to move around, what sets Pocket Metaverse apart from the other SL messengers that have gone before is its ability to access and play media. If you want to catch your favorite SL musician but you’re going to be on the road that day, you can log in via your iOS device and play the streaming audio right there. Multitask is also fully supported so if you’re using an iPhone with iOS 4 you can even play the audio in the background. The live music community has always remained one of the bright spots in the Second Life universe so adding this feature was a very smart move by the developers.

The iPhone Pro version also allows users to take photos and upload them to their inventory to share and use later when they log into their desktop viewers. Other than that, the only differences between the iPad and iPhone versions are the size of the display. When having intense chat conversations, the iPad’s larger on screen keyboard is pretty nice but the iPhone’s ability to run the app in the background and take photos made it the one I used the most. For the fairly small $2.99 asking price, I’d probably opt for the Pro version and its extra features.

I would really like to see a more robust search function but other than that, Pocket Metaverse does as it promises. It allows you fairly full access to your friends and acquaintances while on the go and gives you as much of the Second Life experience as your iOS device can handle. I hope your boss doesn’t fire you for staying logged into SL at work all day.