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Mobile Guru: Love Virtually

Whip out your handset and find yourself a partner this week as we explore the mobile dating world.

Mobile Guru: Love Virtually
Whip out your handset and find yourself a partner this week as we explore the mobile dating world.

It's no news that the dating game extends past face-to-face meeting and into the techno realm with the convenience of using mobile phones to make romantic calls, using SMS to send flirtatious messages and e-mail to send heartfelt love letters.

For years, Australian singles have been logging onto online personal sites from home (and never from work, I'm told) to search for potential companions. Last week, one of Australia's biggest online personals, RSVP, announced the mobile phone version of their dating service.

Giving it a shot -- purely for testing purposes -- using the WAP browser on the recently reviewed Siemens C65, we found you can search the RSVP profiles (over 400,000 we are told) by all the characteristics that are usually found on such sites: sex, age, body type, smoker, children, etc -- all the important filters. You can update your profile on the go, just in case you realise while waiting for that bus that your body type has suddenly become athletic instead of overweight or your age has suddenly dropped ten years.

What's good about the slimmed down WAP version of the site is that it is easy to use and light on graphics, which is makes browsing profiles quick. Profiles with pictures are flagged as such, so you can tell if it will take a little longer for the relatively slow speed of GPRS to download their photo.

Note: Apologies to any Sydneysiders that might have received mobile kisses this morning -- again, it was entirely for research.

If you find you're still striking out in the mobile dating world, you might want to reconsider your strategy and get yourself a virtual girlfriend instead.

Virtual Girlfriend

In response to demands at work eating into the average worker's free time needed to establish (and maintain) a relationship, Hong Kong-based mobile technology company, Artificial Life, has created the busy man's alternative: Virtual Girlfriend.

Essentially, it is an application for 3G handsets that manifests as an animated female character on the screen of your mobile phone. You can watch your virtual girlfriend as she goes about her business, shopping at the mall with friends, drinking at the bar or pottering around at home or work -- sounds a bit like stalking to us.

2G mobile phone users can access a "lighter" version of Virtual Girlfriend through their WAP browser which limits the autonomous behaviour and visual content.

By the sounds of things, these virtual girlfriends sound a little demanding too. Apparently, they can get upset if you ignore them by not sending frequent SMS or MMS messages. Also, it might end up becoming quite a costly relationship as we hear the "service" is subscription-based and lavishing your cybergirl with (virtual) gifts to keep the peace will cost extra.

Scheduled for launch in December, Virtual Girlfriend might be the perfect gift for a lonely friend during the festive season -- that is if you want to socially exile them. And don't lose hope ladies, Virtual Boyfriend is currently being developed and should be out by February -- just in time for Valentine's Day!

What do you think? Is RSVP opening up the possible ways to be on the prowl for prospective partners? Does a virtual girlfriend sound creepy to you or can't you wait to find the cyber-love of your life? Talk back to me below!

Whatever your question, comment or concern, if you'd just like to know more about a feature or need some advice, we'll offer our insight into these matters every week. Send them along to cnet@cnet.com.au.

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