Virgin Mobile launches "Connect", a social networking dashboard for Helio

(Disclosure: I’ve done consulting work for Helio, prior to their acquisition by Virgin Mobile)

With the almost silly number of social networking applications available for the major smartphones, it’s easy to forget how much of a pain it can be to scratch that social itch on a feature phone. Sure, you can generally use a feature phone’s built-in browser to navigate to each site – but that’s one hell of a process, compared to “Tap, tap, done” process of native applications available on most smartphone platforms.

As the first major change (that we know of) for Helio from Virgin Mobile, they’ve announced Connect, a browser-based social site and news aggregator. Once users plug in the account info for their Flickr, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter or YouTube accounts, updates are automatically pulled and rolled out in one long list alongside their favorite RSS feeds.

It’s a concept not unlike Yahoo’s oneConnect Pulse – but until Yahoo gets around to rolling out the Mobile Frontpage changes we wrote about a few weeks ago, Pulse is irrelevant for anyone not carrying an iPhone.

Though it’s browser-based, this can be seen as an upgrade from Helio’s H.O.T (“Helio On Top”) application. Where as H.O.T lacked support for Helio’s flagship device, the Ocean, Connect currently supports the Ocean, Mysto, Fin, Heat and Drift. Support for non-Helio Virgin Mobile devices is planned for Q1 of 2009.