Lumiya is an Android client for Second Life which is really quite remarkable. I’ve followed its development through these pages at length since it first appeared back in 2012, all the way through to the most recent 2.6 iterations; and while things have been quiet for a while, rest assured, development work is continuing, although developer Alina Lyvette has been very caught-up with physical world matters.
But did you know you can also run Lumiya on Windows*?
I suspect the responses to this question would be a combination of “No,” and “Why would I want it to?” The former is to be expected, and the latter not unreasonable; after all if you have a computer capable of running the Second Life viewer reasonably well why would you want to try anything else?
One possible “why” might be if you have a relatively low-end laptop you use when on the move, and would like to use it on occasion to access SL, but don’t want to meet the costs involved in running Bright Canopy’s (very excellent) service (which I’ve also covered in these pages), and would prefer something bigger than the average android device screen when accessing SL.
While I’ve not played at length with things, I did come across an Android emulator called Bluestacks which runs on the PC, and used to be available for Mac*. It makes running Lumiya on Windows a breeze in four easy steps:
- Download and run the Bluestacks installer
- Run the Bluestacks player and sync it to your Google Android account
- Run Google Play and install Lumiya (note the app does have a one-off purchase fee if you have not previously installed it)
- Launch Lumiya.
There are a few things to note when running Lumiya in this way. Obviously, being built for Android, it is intended for touch screen use. While Bluestacks does a credible job of allowing mouse and pointer control and the use of keyboard controls such as the arrow keys and WASD, I tended to find that things did sometimes “stick”, prompting a return to the on-screen movement / camera focus keys (lower right corner of the screen).
Given Lumiya is running on a “standard” computer, it’s also easy to slip into the expectation that it will respond to things like ALT-camming when it obviously won’t – this is still an Android app running through an emulator, after all! Given this, it goes without saying that if you’re new to Lumiya, you have a lot to learn via the UI and options – feel free to use my reviews linked to above 🙂 .
Also keep in mind that as Lumiya is an Android app, the graphics don’t have the same fidelity as the viewer, and running it through an emulator isn’t going to magically give you that kind of fidelity. If that is what you’re looking for when on the move and don’t have a good laptop, then Bright Canopy is your best option outside of a new computer / GPU.
Also, as you are running through a laptop there might be a temptation to push Lumiya’s settings to the max. I’d actually suggest some caution here; your little laptop / notebook may appear to have more umph that an Android device, but you will take a performance hit in driving things too high.
Overall, I found running Lumiya on an Asus PCee 1201N to be pretty acceptable – certainly a lot less tasking than running a full-blown viewer. I wouldn’t want to do it all the time, but as an alternative and occasional means of access, it’s more than acceptable. The UI, intended for touch screens, works well with mouse and pointer, and while there were occasional niggles (sometimes I had to swap back to using the on-screen movement keys via mouse, for example), my biggest issue came down to trying to use conventional SL keyboard shortcuts simply because I was sitting in front of a keyboard!
Whether this kind of approach would appeal or not is down to the individual – but as noted above, if you are looking for the occasional access to SL from a low-end laptop / notebook whilst on the go and either don’t want to fiddle with the small screen of and android device or would prefer not to use Bright Canopy, then this might be an option for you.
Addendum, June 3rd: While Bluestacks was promoted as a “free” emulator, some 36 hours after installing it, I received a notification requiring a subscription payment of either US 2.00 per month or to install sponsoring games in order to keep using it to access Android apps.
*Note: Bluestacks used to offer an emulator for Mac systems as well. It’s no longer available through their own website, but can be obtained from this review on the TechApple website. However, as I’m not a Mac user, I have no idea how up-to-date it is compared with the latest Windows version of the emulator or whether it is a viable option.
Lumiya on Bluestacks was tested using an Asus PCee 1201N with 2 Gb RAM, Intel Atom 330 processor and Nvidia Ion 2 GPU using shared memory.