As I’ve previously reported (see: Linden Lab confirm Second Life iOS client in the making), Linden Lab is developing a companion app for Second Life.
As the last mini-update I gave for the product was in July 2019 and there is some further news to be had, I thought it time to provide a further update on where the client stands.
First and foremost, while the client was initially defined as an iOS client, speaking during the 19th episode of Lab Gab on March 27th, 2020, Ebbe Altberg confirmed the Lab has now started on an Android version as well, which they have to have up to parity with the iOS version at some point.
In addition, he indicated that the iOS version is currently close to being at an “alpha” testing status, which may only be for internal testing.
So, lot’s of activity there. We have a person who’s worked on a mobile – what do we call it? Companion client, because I want to make it clear that people understand that the mobile client will be primarily a communication client, where you can chat with people, and stay connected, but it’s not a 3D viewer. So you will not be running around with your avatar in the mobile client for quite some time. But you can at least, when you’re on the road, stay connected with your friends and customers, etc.
The iOS client is very close to what we call an “alpha”; I don’t know exactly how the alpha will then progress to a beta to like a full release that people can try…
I’m not sure if alpha is even just for internal people; we probably want to get the whole company using it first, but we might, umm, some pre-production grid, get some external users involved in the alpha as well, I don’t know the exact details. But it’s being worked on; hopefully most of us will be able to use the iOS client to stay connected with Second Life in, I don’t know, a month or two, I’m guessing.
And we also have added more resources, so we now have people working on an Android version as well. So hopefully that will catch-up and will get neck-and-neck or almost parallel with iOS here by the time we get to full release. So, actively being worked on.
– Ebbe Altberg, Lab Gab, March 27th, 2020
Summary of What is Known
The following notes are an amalgam of my July 2019 mini-update, and more recent comments from Third Party Viewer Developer Meetings, Simulator User Group meetings and the aforementioned Lab Gab session.
- As noted, the app should initially be regarded as more of a communicator / companion app than a fully-rounded client. The intention is to provide users with a means of maintaining basic contact with other users whilst away from their main means of accessing SL.
- It will support logging-in to the Second Life service and initially provide IM and group chat support.
- Initially it will not:
- Present you with an in-world location, nor will your avatar rez in-world.
- Support local chat (as your avatar does not have a defined in-world location)
A mobile user won’t actually be in an area … they can use p2p or group chat, but not local, because we’re not rendering the world (yet) in the mobile app [and] we didn’t want things to be unbalanced: you can see me but I can’t see you, I can “go” somewhere but can’t see anything [etc.]. [But] direct IM is supported (that’s what I meant by p2p).
– Oz Linden, VP of Engineering, Simulator User Group Meeting,
March 17th, 2020
- In theory, the app should work with both mobile ‘phones and tablets / iPads, although there may be some configuration differences.
- Over time it will be enhanced – but additional capabilities and their order of development is still TBD.
- As noted above, the iOS client will likely be available to users ahead of the Android client.
- The time frame for the iOS client appearing is not confirmed, but might be in a next 2-3 months.
- The Lab had started the work on getting the initial test versions through Apple’s acceptance process some time ago.
- It had been previously stated that iOS users will need to have TestFlight installed on their iPhone (or iPad), as the app will be made available though Apple’s beta testing environment for apps. I assume this is still the case.
There may be further news on the mobile client in the April 3rd Lab Gab session, in which case, I will update this article.