Update August 29th: There have been two additional updates with Lumiya since this review was published. Versions 2.5.2 and 2.5.3 both offer the same additional functionality as reviewed here, but include further fixes for devices using Adreno GPUs.
Alina has released versions 2.5.0 / 2.5.1 of Lumiya. The two versions, released on August 26th and August 27th respectively, comprises the same updates features-wise, but the 2.5.1 release includes an additional fix to correct a crash issue users encountered with devices using Adreno GPUs (such as the HTC One).
The focus for this release has been on rendering capabilities, with the 2.5.0 release notes summarising the updates as:
- An advanced rendering mode for better visual quality
- Limited windlight support (sky, clouds, stars, time of the day)
- Drag-to-select pointer for easy selection of small objects in 3D mode
- Ability to purchase objects
Fixed an issue with terrain not being rendered when 3D view is opened too early.
Advanced Rendering and Windlight
The number of rendering options already included in Lumiya is impressive. Advanced Rendering brings with it the ability to render in-world light and other visual effects, windlight support for clouds, night-time stars, setting the time-of-day in the world view, and anti-aliasing.
The additional capabilities are added to the 3D View section of Lumiya’s Settings menu (device Menu button > Settings), although they are on by default. While they do offer some enticing options, they do make Lumiya very much more device dependent than perhaps has been the case with the client in the past.
For example, I found that with the Advanced Rendering options active, my Galaxy S2 struggled mightily to render an in-world scene, even with high quality textures disabled, max avatars dialled back to 1 and draw distance down to a minimal 48 metres. More particularly, it got very hot in my hand; something I’ve not encountered previously. Once rendered, the scene also lacked clouds (although I’d chosen a region with a cloudscape overhead on purpose), but stars were visible when switching the time to night. Because of this, I’ve not included images from my phone, but rather demo images Alina captured on a tablet device with more oomph than my S2 can manage, as they give a fairer indication of what can be seen when using the right hardware.
That my S2 struggled isn’t surprising. There’s an awful lot of work for a small hand-held device to manage, even with just some of the bells and whistles turned on. Just as it is unrealistic to expect older computer hardware with limited graphics performance, memory, etc., to be able to handle all the latest shiny in Second Life, it’s also unfair to expect devices which necessarily have limited capacity to present everyone with the same level of detail with all the options ticked.
Another major new addition to Lumiya in this release is Drag to Select. This comprises a small hand icon in the top left of the world view, with the label Drag to Select. Following the instruction allows you to drag the icon (which changes to an arrow) and point to objects in-world, enabling you to interact with them more easily. Releasing the icon when pointing at an object will bring up the initial interaction menu, allowing you to touch, sit, etc., depending on the object.
This is especially useful when using a small screen, where the finger can easily cover multiple items, resulting in some frustration when trying to long touch something for its menu. Do note, however that as the option removes your avatar from the in-world view, you can’t use it to touch your own attachments; nor does it appear to work on other avatars’ attachments.
You can now shop ’til you drop with Lumiya. Simply find a vendor or object set for sale, long-touch it, and the pop-up menu includes a Buy Object item. Tap this for a final confirmation before buying.
Another interesting update, albeit it one which may well tax some devices, prompting users to disable some of the options. Seeing windlight start to arrive in Lumiya is good, and helps the client to become more of a mobile alternative to a full-blown viewer for those on the move requiring their SL fix. Similarly, having the ability to make in-world purchases adds to Lumiya’s attractiveness. I also like the new Drag to select function, although its addition is starting to make the in-world view on small screens rather crowded. Even so, I’d rather have it than not.
I understand that in-world building is on the cards for a future release of Lumiya; now that will be interesting. I presume it’ll be a capability best suited to tablet devices rather than small-screened handhelds, but that’s no reason for seeing it excluded. It just means I’ll have to go buy myself a tablet! :D.