Lumiya 2.2.0: out with the old, in with the new

lumiya-logoWednesday August 8th saw the launch of Lumiya 2.2.0, followed on Saturday August 11th by 2.2.1. With them came a host of goodies, including:

  • A new user interface
  • Split-screen layouts for tablets
  • The ability to:
    • Add and remove friends
    • Set an auto-response for incoming IMs
    • Send teleport offers to others
  • Support for legacy user names (rather than only using Display Names)
  • Avination added to grid list.

As we shall see, this is really quite a modest representation of what amounts to a huge amount of work to completely overhaul what was already a very usable and increasingly intuitive application and turn it into a highly polished product.

This review was written using a Samsung Galaxy S2 smartphone running ICS 4.0.4. Note that as I do not have a tablet device, I’m unable to do any direct screen comparisons, therefore some details might differ on a larger display.

Sign-In Screen

The changes are apparent from the moment you launch Lumiya, as a slick new log-in page appears, complete with new widgets.

The older (l) and newer (r) log-in screens – note the widgets, top right, in the latter

The widgets are at the top right of the screen and comprise (in left-to-right order):

  • Account Manager: easily access all of the accounts you’ve used Lumiya to log-in to SL. Tapping on this will display a list of accounts, including the name of the grid the account is used to access. Tapping an account name will return you to the sign-in screen, with the user name and password fields auto-completed with the required credentials, and the client pointing towards the required grid
  • Settings: tap on this to access and set / amend your preferred settings for Lumiya.

Settings Options

Before getting into the various changes within Lumiya itself, it is worth covering the Settings options, as these include some important updates. Chief among them is the new Light skin option. Until now, Lumiya has presented itself on a dark background. On smaller screen, than can be hard on the eyes and lead to discomfort. The Light skin option displays Lumiya’s screens on a white background which on smaller screens especially can be easier on the eye.

The two visualisation options for Lumiya

Also within Settings are the new options to: use legacy names rather than Display Names; enable the split-screen display and when it will be activated (see Screen Orientation, below); and display local chat in the 3D world view (see Conversing in the 3D World View, on the next page).

Grid Access

The grid access list can now be displayed in one of two ways:

  • By tapping the name of the currently selected grid. This will display a pop-up list of grids
  • By tapping the Menu button on your device and selecting Grids from the menu which is displayed. This will switch to a full-screen list of defined grids

Tapping on the name of a grid in either list will automatically return you to the sign-in page, with the grid selected. Both lists also include the option to add further grids, as I’ve documented in my last review of Lumiya.

Menu Options and Icons

Tapping the Menu button on your device in earlier versions of Lumiya would pop-up a set of on-screen buttons. This has now been replaced by what I’ve dubbed here the “Lumiya menu”. This is a set of context-sensitive menus which will display options in accordance with the screen you are using / function you are performing and which take into consideration screen orientation (see below). These make working with Lumiya even smoother and more intuitive.

Greater use is also made of on-screen buttons as well. These are also context-sensitive  and present a far slicker and faster means of performing activities within Lumiya than with previous versions. As the buttons rely on icons extensively when in portrait mode (at least on smaller devices), a PDF-format guide to the icons and their functions can be found here. A long touch on an icon will also show an on-screen tool tip.

Screen Orientation

Lumiya now includes much better screen orientation options when rotating between portrait and landscape modes, and adds a split-screen capability.

When rotating between portrait and landscape views the screen layout will automatically adjust itself. This will generally result in better screen utilisation in either orientation. However, when in landscape mode, it may appear as if buttons are vanishing from the screen due to the use of icons & labels – not so! Any buttons that are not displayed as icons are moved to the Lumiya menu, accessed via the Menu button on your device.

Where the icons go: rotating the Lumiya display to landscape may seem to cause buttons to vanish from the layout. Tap the Menu button on your device to display them within the Lumiya’s menu

The a split-screen option is primarily intended for tablet devices, but can still be useful when used with suitable screens on mobile phones. It is enabled via Settings (tap the Menu button on your device to display the Lumiya menu and then tap Settings), and can be set to one of the following:

  • Automatic: Tablets will automatically switch to split-screen when in landscape orientation, devices with smaller screens may not
  • Always in Landscape: the split-screen will activate whenever the device is rotated to a landscape orientation, regardless of screen size
  • Always: the split-screen mode will be active in both landscape and portrait modes, again regardless of screen size
  • Never: split-screen never activates.
Contacts screen in split-screen view

Contacts Screen

Signing-in to Lumiya displays the Contacts screen, which default to the Chats display (see the image below for an overview of the Chats display). Contacts provides quick access to local chat, your friends and groups lists and a list of all nearby avatars.

Chats is perhaps the most radically altered screen within Contacts, and does much to improve rapid access to ongoing conversations, be they local chat, group chat or individual IMs, as well as seeing who in your Friends list is on-line and being able to contact them.

Note that you can close and remove IMs conversations from the list by long-touching any conversation you wish to close and selecting Close from the pop-up menu. This is particularly useful in stopping group chats in which you are not participating from filling up the screen. Note that using Close will also close the group chat in the Groups screen as well.

You can toggle between the various screen within Contacts by:

  • Portrait orientation: tapping on the individual screen name (Friends, Groups, etc), displayed across the top of the screen
  • Landscape orientation: tapping the screen name in the top left of the screen (e.g. Chats) and selecting the required screen from the drop-down list.

Icons displayed in any of these screens allow you to (in left-to-right order): switch to the 3D view; open the Object list; display your inventory; display the mini-map; teleport you to your home location. Note that when displayed in landscape view, some of the icons may be transferred to the Lumiya menu, as described in Screen Orientation, above.

Setting an Auto-response

Lumiya now lets you to set an auto-response which is automatically sent to all incoming IMs, handy for when you’re away doing other things (such as making a call on your mobile phone). The options can be found in the Chat section of Settings, accessed using the Lumiya menu. There are two options:

  • Auto-response: checking this enables / disables auto-response
  • Auto-response text: only accessible when the Autro-response option is enabled. Allows you to replace the default auto-response with a custom message. Tap the option to open the text input screen and type-in your desired response. Tap OK to set it.

Sending a Teleport Offer

As well as allowing you to accept teleport offers, Lumiya now gives you the opportunity to send teleport offers to others. This can be done using one of a number of options:

  • By long-touching a name of an on-line friend in the Chats or Friends screens and then tapping Offer Teleport in the pop-up action menu
  • If you are in an IM conversation with the person
    • Tap the Teleport icon in the IM window displayed bottom right of the screen in portrait mode, or
    • Tap Offer Teleport in the Lumiya menu if using landscape orientation
  • If the person is not on your friends list, you can use Search People from the Lumiya menu, then either:
    • Long-touch the person’s name and select Offer Teleport from the pop-up action menu or
    • Display their profile and tap the Teleport icon in the IM window (displayed bottom right of the screen in portrait mode) or Offer Teleport in the Lumiya (if using landscape orientation).

Adding / Removing someone to / from Your Friends List

Lumiya now lets you add / remove people from your Friends list. This can be done in a number of ways, depending on whether you are adding or removing someone from your list.

To add someone to your Friends List:

  • If they are nearby, display the list of nearby people. Long-touch the name of the person you wish to friend to display the actions menu, and tap Add Friend
  • If you are conversing with them in IM, tap the Menu button on your device and then tap Add Friend from the displayed menu
  • If you are running in 3D view and can locate them visually, long-touch their avatar, then tap either Chat or Info on the displayed options and then tap the menu button on your device and select Add Friend from the displayed menu
  • Use Search People from the Lumiya menu, then either:
    • Long-touch the person’s name and select Add Friend from the pop-up action menu or
    • Display their profile and use the Add Friend option from the Lumiya menu.

The easiest way to remove someone from your Friends list, is to locate their name in the Chats screen (if they are on-line) or you Friends list, long-touch their name and tap Remove Friend from the displayed menu.

Inventory Updates

This update sees enhancements to the Inventory screen:

  • The on-screen Back button has been replaced with a smarter-looking Up One Level icon display within a given list
  • The Back button on your device will now not automatically exit the Inventory screen and return you to the last screen used; instead it will move you back up one level as per the Up One Level icon above, and will only exit you from inventory if you use it from the top-level screen.

Conversing in the 3D World View

The 3D view gets a number of updates in this release, perhaps the most prominent being the ability to join-in a conversation while able to see what is going on around you. display chat in a number of ways.

To simply see incoming chat displayed directly on the 3D world view, go to Settings and check the Messages in 3D View option. This will not display your own outgoing chat, but will allow you to read what is being typed.

Seeing incoming chat console-style within with 3D view

To see your own side of the conversation as well, tap the Contacts icon at the top right of the 3D view to display. If you are not working with split-screen active, this will overlay the 3D view with a translucent Contacts screen. Tapping the Chat option will allow you to converse with others and still see what is going on in-world with a reasonable amount of clarity.

If you have the split-screen mode active, with will display local chat to the left of the 3D view, again overlaying it with a translucent panel, allowing you to view the conversation. The is obviously best used in landscape orientation when using something like a smartphone. However, note that tapping the text input box will pull-up the on-screen keyboard, masking the in-world view completely. Nevertheless the ability to converse within the 3D world view is still a useful and welcome addition to Lumiya.

Chat used with the 3D view in Lumiya’s split-screen mode

Feedback

Lumiya has always tended to stand head-and-shoulders above other mobile offerings for Second Life – and more recently, for OpenSim. With this release, it simply leaves all competition standing. Obviously, there are those who will only need to access their preferred grid while on the go to do simply IM someone or join a chat. As such, all of the other Android clients very much have a role to play. But if you have a tablet device or a reasonably modern mobile telephone with a decently sized screen, Lumiya simply offers everything you might need for now – and in the future. As such, and if you’re looking for Android-based grid access on the go for any purpose at all, then choosing Lumiya is simply a no-brainer.

The new UI layout – particularly the new light visualisation (or skin, if you prefer) – this lifts a client that was already largely intuitive and easy-to-use well above the standard of many so-called “professionally-developed” applications available for the Android platform. Allowing for data costs, Lumiya really does make accessing SL on the go more and more attractive with each release.

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