Lab working on a Second Life iOS client?

We’re in the early discussion stages, so Grumpity and I – Grumpity who heads-up Product here for Second Life – we talk quite a bit about what it would mean to invest in a mobile Second Life experience or product. So we’re trying to figure out how to validate the idea, and how much would it take to do it, and what could the value be to us and to customers to do it.

– Ebbe Altberg, April 20th, 2018 Town Hall meeting

I’m leading with the above quote because in the early hours of Wednesday, January 9th, 2019 (UK time), Whirly Fizzle directed me towards a Linden Lab code repository on Bit Bucket, which reveals that work has apparently started on an iOS client for Second Life.

The repository has been posted by Brad Linden, and shows some initial code segments Brad has been working on.

Brad Linden’s Bit Bucket repository for the iOS Client. Note I’ve redacted his given last name and some other information in respect of his privacy (although I understand it has also been posted to the forums)

That the Lab could start work on a mobile solution has in some ways been heralded over the course of the past 12 months, with Ebbe and senior SL managers openly discussing thoughts and possible options.

In his April 2018 discussion, for example, Ebbe pointed out that at that time, there were still issues the Lab wanted to address in trying to develop a mobile client, including what kind of investment it would be, both monetarily and resource-wise, and what the return on investment might be gained for the effort, as well as trying to figure out how such a client might be used.

I think the main question is if it would really primarily be a companion for existing users, so therefore increase the time spent in engagement and commerce. Or would it be an opportunity to actually reach users who don’t even have PCs and Macs, and would that be an addressable market, is something we have to wrap our heads around.

– Ebbe Altberg, April 20th, 2018 Town Hall meeting

By June, and the SL15B Meet the Lindens talks, it was clear that the Lab was thinking long and hard about the merits of both mobile and streaming solutions, with Grumpity and Oz openly discussing both.

– Grumpity and Oz Linden discussing mobile / streaming options at SL15B, June 2018

Both the question of how a mobile  / streamed solution might be developed and used was also a topic Ebbe returned to in his SL15B session in June 2018. Like Oz and Grumpity, he pointed to a previous streamed solution, SL Go (Grumpity and Oz referenced Bright Canopy, which was founded after SL Go had ceased to be available).

– Ebbe Altberg  discussing mobile / streaming options at SL15B, June 2018

Whether the repository indicates the Lab has now answered those questions and is ready to go ahead with an iOS client, or whether it is another aspect of testing the water and seeing what can be done, code-wise is unclear. I also freely admit to being insufficiently versed in code to guess whether this work is geared towards a dedicated iOS client, or part of a larger streaming option.

Turning to the man who is fronting the project, Brad Linden joined Linden Lab a the time of the Windlight integration over 11 years ago, and since that time has been focused on viewer development, specifically in the area of viewer stability.  Interestingly, the first indication that the Lab might be ready to move beyond talking about a mobile client came in December 2018, when Brad changed his Second Life Display Name from Brad Linden to Mobile Brad.

Brad Linden changed his display name to Mobile Brad in December 2018

I have contacted the Lab about the repository and what might be coming out of it placed with the Lab, and will update should a reply be received.

In the meantime, until such time as Linden Lab do clarify the work, it shouldn’t be assumed any kind of iOS client is about to be released in the immediate future. However, that the Lab is working on code would appear to be a positive sign, again given Ebbe’s words at the April Town Hall.

I hope will come to the conclusion to jump in soon; so more to come on that.

– Ebbe Altberg, April 20th, 2018 Town Hall meeting

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11 thoughts on “Lab working on a Second Life iOS client?

  1. I for one would love this! Even just something for IM and basic access on iOS would be welcome. Similar to Lumiya on Android. Back in about 2007 my older brother showed me Second Life. I wasn’t much interested at the time, but I’m sure he used to have it on an iPad?? Maybe I remember that wrong.

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  2. …By the way in the Brad Linden BitBucket screenshot you didn’t block out the URL, so I was able to find it pretty easily. Then again it’s a public repository so I guess it’s not meant to be a secret project.

    (Delete this comment if you want!)

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  3. Exciting news, but i’ll be interested in how it would take form, it throws up so many questions. Will it be a fully featured SL viewer or a companion app? Will it be a complete new native ios app, if so could they then expand that to a new macos client?

    Then there is the possibility apple could be releasing an AR/VR device in a few years which would probably be built on ios…. but im getting ahead of things. I hope its not just a streaming option. Id like the lab to at least try and get it working native on the iPad.

    Knowing Linden Lab, it’ll be 2 or 3 years before we see iOSSL, iOS devices could be 4 or 6 times more powerful by then. I really hope its not a streaming solution.

    I’ll admit i’m surprised to learn LL are working on iOS version of SL rather than Sansar.

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    1. I’ve got a series of questions for the Lab … we’ll see if they’ll answer 🙂 .

      Sansar was supposed to go mobile as well for a “consumer experience” while on the go. No idea if that has been progressed at all on the QT (but not yet ready to be revealed) or is still on the roadmap for future development or has been put off to one side for the time being.

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  4. As a merchant in SL I confess my first thought was, let’s hope the “buy” feature is enabled and linked to their Apple Wallet :} :}

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  5. I hope very much, that it won’t be a streaming client, though if they support in-home streaming I’d welcome it.

    My main use for an iOS client would be chatting with people in my usual hangouts while reading a book or webcomic away from the keyboard.

    Lumiya works fine for this, but obviously only for Android users. Meta-chat falls short, because it is fully non-graphical, so even walking up to people for chatting isn’t possible in any meaningful way, and because it disconnects when you switch out of the app. (Possibly an iOS-side restriction, that requires server-side support to circumvent.)

    Previous game-streaming solutions were both extremely expensive, both in terms of direct service cost and required internet connection, and lacked the ability to stay connected and serve chat notifications when switching to another app. I’m not sure on the latter points for Bright Canopy, but their service model doesn’t fit my use-case at all.

    I’d be interested in these possible outcomes:
    1. A lumiya-style graphical client with touch-UI, that works on iPads. (best)
    2. A companion app, that allows accessing the chat of the running PC client from iOS, ideally with support for in-home streaming of the 3D part, and touch-friendly controls to make it useful.

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    1. I beta-tested both SL Go and Bright Canopy; I found both acceptable for occasional use, but also with aspects that weigh against prolonged use as well. OnLive did respond to user’s concerns over pricing (and opened up to allowing payment in L$), but I found the UI overlay very limiting. With Bright Canopy, the issue has always been the pricing structure, particularly as I have Android devices, and so Lumiya sits as a very cost-effective alternative.

      I hear what you say about MetaChat (I’m not an iOS / Apple user so have never used it myself), but the app switching issue apparently an iOS-side restriction, as I know the developer has been banging his head on the desk trying to work out how to avoid it.

      I’ve got a set of Qs with LL on most of what you raise (other than in-home streaming, something I’d never even thought of and would have said would be a limited use-case at best?). If they do reply, I will obviously be following-up on this article 🙂 .

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      1. With in-home streaming, you probably have a point 🙂

        The iOS restrictions are probably solvable for Linden Lab, since they are solvable for every chat app. It would likely require some sort of “passive connection” option, that can be used while the client is in the background. Chances are however, that the assumption of a continuous unconstrained client-server connection is baked into the server software, making a solution much harder than it would be for a from-scratch product.

        MetaChat, of course, doesn’t have any access to introduce such changes.

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