Second Life Mobile mini update, August 2020 with audio

As I’ve previously reported several times over the last year, starting with Linden Lab confirm Second Life iOS client in the making, Linden Lab is developing a companion app for Second Life.

Since that first article, I’ve provided a number of updates on the development work – please use the SL Mobile tag to catch up with all of them.

At the Web User Group on Wednesday, August 5th, Keira Linden gave a further update on the client’s status, as per the notes and audio below, which have been provided alongside my usual notes on the app.

August 5th Update

iOS Client

  • The iOS version has been in a closed alpha that includes a number of residents for some 2+ months, having started in May.
    • In keeping with the Lab’s plans, this version offers the ability to communicate via IM and view your Friends list.
  • As a result of this close alpha testing, the Lab now has a build that is “destined for [Apple’s] App Store”, which is currently “bouncing back and fort”h between the development team and LL’s QA team.
  • The hope is that this version can be submitted to Apple for review some time in August 2020.
  • This does not necessarily mean the iOS client will immediately appear within the App Store, as Apple can be exceptionally picky in their review process, which can result in requests for changes to an app to be made before listing is allowed.
  • LL obviously hopes the app will not encounter significant issues, but because of the review process, no time frame can be given on when the app will appear in the App Store – but there will presumably be an announcement once it is available.

Android Client

  • Having started much later than the iOS version, which remains the Lab’s focus, the Android version is still at a somewhat earlier stage of development.
  • However, it is under active development.
  • When it is ready, it will likely follow a similar Alpha / Beta test process to the iOS version.

In-world Presence

  • In a change to earlier statements, Mobile app users will have an in-world location.
  • This will be in one of several special “Mobile” regions. However:
    • As Mobile users have no 3D world view, these regions are not landscaped or populated in any way.
    • Access is restricted to those using the Mobile app, general access by users on the viewer or other clients is not allowed.
    • Currently, three Mobile regions have been set-up.

General Capabilities

Note: this is a reiteration of notes from earlier updates on the SL Mobile client.

  • It should initially be regarded as more of a communicator / companion app than a fully-rounded client. The initial intention for the client is to provide users with a means of maintaining basic contact with other users whilst away from their main means of accessing Second Life.
  • As such, it will support logging-in to Second Life services to support IM and group chat support.
  • Capabilities such as having an in-world rezzing location, the ability to chat locally, support for scene rendering will be added over time.
  • However, in terms of any in-world rendering, this will not be part of any initial released (in the meeting it was described as “not even Soon™”), as LL are focused in just trying to get the basic app available to users as soon as reasonably possible.

Reporting and Updates in this Blog

Again, all information I’m able to provide through this blog, including future updates can be found under the SL Mobile tag, and can be accessed directly from the top menu options:

  • SL → User Group & Viewer → Viewers → Android & iOS and then selecting either:
    • Android Clients → SL Mobile or
    • iOS Clients → SL Mobile.

Speedlight: group functionality and other updates

via Speedlight

It’s been a little over a month since my last update on Speedlight, the browser based Second Life client, so here’s a quick round up of the major updates since then.

Note that unless otherwise stated, the following notes apply to the browser version of Speedlight, as at the time of writing they had yet to be applied to the dedicated Android app version or (so far as I’m aware), the beta iOS app version.

Group Support

Perhaps the most noticeable update to the browser version of Speedlight since June is the expansion of Group related capabilities, specifically:

  • Search your groups.
  • View group notices and send  group notices.
  • Leave a group.
  • Invite someone into a group.

Obviously, all group actions are subject to the group permissions assigned to your role within the group.

Notes:

  • Groups are accessed via the Group option in the Speedlight client menu.
  • The Group option will display your current groups as a searchable list, via the Search option at the top of the list.
  • When using Speedlight on a mobile device, the group list is displayed as an overlay to the main group information display, and is shown / hidden by tapping the Groups>> link displayed at the top of the options menu.
  • Tapping on the name of a group in the list will open the Group Info panel, shown below (and auto-close the Group list mobile devices).
The updated group display panel showing: 1. The pre-existing Group Chat button; 2. the new Group Notices button; 3. the Button to Join / Leave a group; 4. the Group Invite button.

Group Notices

Note: at the time of writing, the group notices functionality was only available to the browser version of Speedlight (any browser / device).

  • To view your group notices, click / tap the Group Notices button.
  • The Group Notices panel will open and load any available notices.
  • Click / tap on any notice to display it below the list of available notices.
  • Note that notice attachments cannot presently be viewed / opened, but are listed in the text of the notice.
View a group notice in the Speedlight browser version

The Group Notices panel has two buttons associated with it:

  • Send New Notice – described below.
  • Schedule a Notice – this option is either awaiting implementation or a Gold / Patreon subscription option. As I currently do not have either of the latter, I was unable to check, ergo it is excluded from this article.

Send a Group Notice

Subject to group permissions you can also create and send group notices from Speedlight:

  • From the Group Notice panel, click the Send New Notice button at the top of the panel.
  • The New Notice panel is display. Here you can:
    • Enter a title for the notice.
    • Enter the text of the notice. Note the character counter will turn red if you exceed the 512 character count for a notice, and the text beyond that point will be truncated when the notice is sent.
  • Click the Send Notice button when you’re ready to send your notice.

Send a Group Invite

Subject to group permissions you can send a group invitation to one or more users from Speedlight:

  • From the Group Info panel, click the Invite to Group button.
  • The Invite to Group panel is displayed.
Speedlight Invite to Group panel
  • Role To Invite: select the required role (if available) that will be offered in the invite.
  • Resident Name: enter the avatar name of the person whom you wish to receive the invite.
  • IM Message (optional): if you wish, you can send the person you are inviting an IM alongside the group invite – such as an explanation on why you’re sending it, etc.
    • Note you can use the listed variables to personalise the IM. For example, clicking the %FIRST_NAME% option will precede your IM with the recipient’s first name, while %GROUP% can be used to display the group’s name in the IM.
  • When you’re ready to send the invite, click the Invite button.

Additional notes for group invites:

  • Pressing ENTER after typing the recipient’s name will actually send the invitation, so if you want to send an IM with the invite, be sure to click / press TAB / tap to position the cursor in the IM field.
  • You can also append “sent from Speedlight” to the invite IM (and any other initial session IM you send to someone) by going to Settings in the left menu and then checking Append “Sent from SpeedLight” to my IMs (first message of the conversation only) .

Other Updates

Search Functionality

The Search functionality has been tweaked so that you can now:

  • Search for friends in your Friends List.
  • Search for IMs in you IM history by sender’s name.
  • Search for a group in your groups list (as described above).

Teleport Offers

You can now accept / decline teleport offers via the Notifications bar.

Multi-Line Text Entry (Chat and IM)

Both IMs and local chat accept multi-line text entry – use SHIFT-ENTER to start a new line / offer a paragraph break.

RLV Support

RLV support is now available to Speedlight Gold and Patreon users. However, it is not clear if this is Marine Kelley’s RLV API or Kitty Barnett’s RLVa API.

Android and iOS App Versions

  • The Android version has yet to receive the multi-line text input option and the group updates, as noted. However, it has received a series of bug fixes and allows errors or issues to be reported back to the developers.
  • The iOS version version of Speedlight is available for Speedlight Gold and Patreon users, and requires Apple’s TestFlight app to be installed on the device using it.

Feedback

The group updates are good to have, with the promise of more to come. Further performance improvements are in the offing as well, apparently. This may well be a good thing, as it appears the issue from April of an avatar refusing to stop moving once set in motion in the 3D World view, is back, and once again requires a relog to stop it. I’ve no idea how widespread this issue is, or if it is encountered on Android devices (as my poor little Nexus 2013 HD cannot run Speedlight’s 3D rendering, being stuck on Android 6.0.1), but for me, it is consistent and appears to be a regression. I shall await further updates with interest.

Related Links

Speedlight: recent updates and iOS development

via Speedlight

Speedlight, the browser based / Android Second Life client, gained a further series of updates at the end of May and the beginning of June, together with an important announcement about the client’s future direction.

Key within the updates were the following:

  • The Android app now supports sending error feedback to the Speedlight team to help with bug fixing.
  • Web links are now displayed in IMs, local and group chats, together with a warning that following them will take a user away from the Speedlight site.
Links contain in IMs, chat and group chat are now clickable. Those that connect to external web pages will display a warning when clicked.
  • Further performance improvements.
  • Full-function 3D capabilities are now available to basic and well as Gold subscribers. So, Basic account holders can now move their avatar around.

The feedback capability means that the Speedlight developers are currently focused in bug fixing, although the team also note they are working on group management capabilities – viewing groups, sending notices and moderating group chat, and state these capabilities will be release soon™.

iOS Version Coming

While Speedlight is entirely operating system agnostic in its browser version, allowing it to be used on Windows, OS X, Linux, Android and iOS through a suitable browser, the team has already released a dedicated Android version, as I noted in Speedlight: using the Android app, back in February 2020.

On May 27th, 2020, the Speedlight team have started working on a dedicated iOS version of the client as well, with an expectation that it will follow the same development path as the Android app, and – if all goes according to plan – should initially be made available in around 2-3 weeks.

Observations

The two key points of the recent announcements are likely to be the 3D avatar capabilities now being available to all Speedlight users, Basic or Gold, and the iOS app development, and the upcoming iOS app version.

The former could help make Speedlight a more attractive alternative to users who would like a “light” / mobile client (remembering that with Android, the device must be running version 7.0 or higher, whether using the dedicated app or running Speedlight through an Android browser), but who were not keen on paying a fee to be able to do so.

This does, however, also beg the question as to what the Speedlight team plan to do in order to maintain the attraction of Gold subscription. Currently, there is the mass IM capability, but his is liable to have limited appeal for most SL users, some one can only assume other features will be made available on a Gold subscription basis, although obviously, time will tell on this.

Given that Speedlight is already on the road to developing world rendering with interactive capabilities, the news that they are working on an iOS app version of the client may also be welcomed by users, particularly given that many feel such a capability is is “essential” to a mobile client, and Linden Lab has indicated that it will be some time before their in-development iOS / Android client will have such a functionality.

Related Links

Second Life Mobile mini update, May 2020 with audio

As I’ve previously reported several times over the last year, starting with Linden Lab confirm Second Life iOS client in the making, Linden Lab is developing a companion app for Second Life.

Since that first article, I’ve provided a number of updates on the development, including that the client will be for both Android as well as iOS, and speaking at the Web User Group meeting on Wednesday, June 3rd, 2020, Keira Linden – who is the Product lead for the client – provided and update on process, the core points of which are bullet-pointed below.

  • iOS Client:
    • The iOS version is now in a closed alpha featuring some residents.
    • In keeping with the Lab’s plans, this version offers the ability to communicate via IM, and has a basic Friends listing.
    • Further updates will follow  – the next being the addition of Abuse Reporting support and improved management for the Friends list.
    • Once the Lab believe the client has an initial set of functions to make it useful as a communications tool, it will will move to a beta phase and made available to a wider cohort of users for further testing.
  • Android Client:
    • Work is progressing, but it will take time for it to reach a point where it is ready for testing.
    • When it is ready, it will likely follow a similar Alpha / Beta test process to the iOS version.

General Capabilities

Note: this is a reiteration of notes from earlier updates on the SL Mobile client.

  • It should initially be regarded as more of a communicator / companion app than a fully-rounded client.
    • The initial intention for the client is to provide users with a means of maintaining basic contact with other users whilst away from their main means of accessing Second Life.
  • As such, it will support logging-in to Second Life services to support IM and group chat support. However:
    • It  will not initially present you with an in-world location, nor will your avatar rez in-world, it will not not support local chat nor any form of world rendering.
  • Capabilities such as having an in-world rezzing location, the ability to chat locally, support for scene rendering will be added over time.
    • However, in terms of any in-world rendering, this will not be part of any initial released (in the meeting it was described as “not even Soon™”), as LL are focused in just trying to get the basic app available to users as soon as reasonably possible.

All information I’m able to provide through this blog, including future updates can be found under the SL Mobile tag, and can be accessed directly from the top menu options:

  • SL → User Group & Viewer → Viewers → Android & iOS and then selecting either:
    • Android Clients → SL Mobile or
    • iOS Clients → SL Mobile.

Speedlight version 5.143.1224 – May 2020

via Speedlight

Speedlight, the browser based / Android Second Life client, received an update on May 22nd, focusing heavily on the world rendering capabilities, offering updates to the UI displays, and various performance fixes / improvements, together with a step forward in avatar rendering.

The performance improvements are mostly under-the-hood – notably the addition of a further back-end rendering server pool, that I understand specifically handles textures and which corrects issues of textures with alphas failing to render correctly (so, among other things, no more “boxy” trees). There have also been updates in handling network traffic, so 3D world view freezes should be less apparent.

For client-side assistance with rendering, the Scene Progress / 3D Settings information panels have been updated thus:

  • The old connection status has now been revised to show three colour relating to “lag”:
    • Green – you’re “fully” connected to the server.
    • Orange – your connection is suffering from network lag.
    • Red – severe lag (/ awaiting data?).
  • The 3D Settings display in the panel now includes the option to switch between downloading and rendering objects at “high” or “low” quality, with the latter intended to reduce the network traffic load between your browser / device and the Speedlight servers.
The 3D World View, May 2020, showing the “lag indicator” (top) which will switch from green to orange if the connecting is lagging (or red if really problematic), and the new option in the 3D settings to select your preferred object rendering quality. Also visible is the revised avatar mannequin

With regard to these object rendering quality settings, I understand that for users on the “low” quality object setting, objects stay cached in the Speedlight intermediary server, speeding load times when camming / moving around. Objects cached in “high” quality”, however, may be discarded if not in the immediate view, so as to allow the servers to handle other object data.

The improvements to avatar rendering mean that avatars now have a body shape. It’s still primitive, but again somewhat in keeping the Lumiya’s progress with avatar rendering.

The case remains that only Gold members can move their avatars in the world view while free account users can only orbit / zoom their camera / turn their avatar on he spot. However, both Gold and free account users can see others avatars moving in their field of view, and the walking is fairly fluid, and certainly a good start to things. The short video below highlights the avatar movement.

According to the release notes, seated avatars should be rendered in a basic sitting pose (and a seated avatar is shown in the video). However, whether this is limited to just Gold users or a glitch with my experience, I’m not entirely sure (my Gold membership has lapsed at present) – but I found that when my avatar (running on a viewer) was seated on a lounger, my alt (running on Speedlight) rendered her as standing on the back of the lounger, rather than offering a view of her Speedlight avatar in a basic sit pose.

Speedlight should render seated avatars in a basic sit pose in this release. Whether it was because I’m currently only using a free account or not I couldn’t say, but in testing I found this not to be the case. My other avatar appeared to be standing on her seat.

Observations

At the time of the release, there were apparently a number of issues with world view rendering, but these did appear to get fixed fairly rapidly. Certainly, by the time I got to play with the release for around 3 hours, I didn’t encounter any of the problems that had been reported; generally speaking, I found my experience was a lot smoother than previously: no sudden lock-ups  / freezes / log-outs within minutes of starting the world view rendering.

As noted, I did have an issue with rendering seated avatars, which might be down to the fact I’m currently not at Gold status. The lack of the latter also meant that I couldn’t check to see if a fix had been made to my issue of my avatar refusing to stop once walking had been initiated (unless she hit and insurmountable obstacle or I logged out / in).

The “high” quality object rendering appears to have fixed a little niggle I’ve had with earlier versions failing to render two of the more complex mesh boats we have have moored at home; one or other would invariably be left with holes in it / missing mesh faces when the download / rendering process apparently completed – but, no more! With this release, both boats render as I’d expect to see them. It was also good to see the trees around our house render correctly, thanks to the alpha issue being fixed.

Quite probably the best experience I’ve had with Speedlight to date, and I understand more improvements are coming down the pipe in the near future!

Related Links

Speedlight: looking at the 3D world view

via Speedlight

At the end of March 2020, Speedlight, the browser / Android Second Life client, extended its world rendering capability to Free account holders whilst also offering Gold members the ability to move their avatars around.

Over the last few days, I’ve had the opportunity to take Speedlight’s world view for a test on both Free and Gold accounts, and this article is intended to act as both an introduction to the capability and to provide insight into where it stands at this stage of its development.

Before getting down to specifics, it should be remembered that it is still very early days in the development of Speedlight’s rendering capabilities – what is seen here is by no means anything close to what might be considered a “finished” product. Avatars, for example, are only presented as rudimentary “manniquins”, as the emphasis thus far has been on rendering in-world objects, and the Speedlight team plan to improve avatar looks in the future.

The Speedlight world view showing our living area at home. The rendering is acceptable, although there are some niggles that will doubtless be addressed in future updates (e.g. in this image, the “glass” doors rendered as soid grey objects, the ceiling rendering as black). Certainly, they are not enough to detract from what has been achieved at this early stage of work

Also at this point in time, the world view doesn’t offer any avatar / object interaction (no right-click options, etc.), and interaction (chatting, IMs) with other avatars is via switching tasks using the left menu. Other points worth keeping in mind with the world view are:

  • As I understand it, Speedlight uses an intermediary server for organising asset data information for download to the client, and this can have an impact of how fast a scene can be rendered. It also means that rendering can occur in “bursts” as object and texture data is collected (visible in the information bars at the top of the world view panel – see below), so it’s perhaps preferable to refrain from changing your camera view / moving your avatar until the scene has loaded.
  •  Key differences between Free and Gold accounts in terms of world rendering are:
    • Free accounts do not (as of the April 1st 4.093.0825 release) have the ability to move their avatar, but can orbit / zoom their camera.
    • Gold account can move their avatar via the Arrows keys when running in a browser, or via the on-screen “joystick” when using the dedicated Android app.
    • I understand from Speedlight support that the number of textures / objects a scene loads is “capped” for Free accounts at present, in order to prevent the intermediary server from being flooded with requests to handle asset information.
  • The world view requires a minimum of Android 7.0 to work on an Android device (either using the dedicated app or when running Speedlight through an Android flavour of a web browser). As I only have Android 6.0.1 at my disposal, this precluded me from trying Speedlight’s rendering on a mobile device.
  • In order to limit any excessive load, rendering is limited to a radius of apprximately 50-60m around your avatar / camera, with objects fading into haze – an effect that helps disguise what might otherwise be glaring “holes” in a scene.

Accessing the World View

  • Log-in to Second Life via your Speedlight account and Open your avatar account.
  • The Summary screen will be displayed.
  • Click / tap the 3D World View option in the left side menu.
  • If you have not run the 3D world view during the current session, a blank window is displayed with the message: Avatar Is Not Rendering 3D World.
  • Click / tap the button under the message to start the rendering process.
  • Rendering will commence, with a warning that it could take 2 mins. Given the variables involved (complexity of scene, information fetching / caching, network connectivity and speed, etc.) this is a not unreasonable estimate.
  • The information bars at the top of the world view (see image below) will report the land area, the number of textures and objects that are being processed / loaded.
The world view explained: 1: the X, Y, Z region coordinates of your avatar; 2: object and texture load count – will change as you cam / move / teleport. 3: horizon hazing at the limits of the pre-set draw distance; 4: avatar mannequin – displays a small green arrow (not always visible) to show direction being faced / avatar will move in (Gold only); 5: information bar – Gold membership shown; Free accounts have a yellow panel located on the left of the world view, carrying different information

Observations

Given this is still very much a first cut at scene rendering, what is presented is impressive, if with some niggles to be addressed, as noted above, and with things like dealing with blended alpha masks and with some transparent surfaces, etc.). However, these will hopefully be addressed over time.

Movement also seems to have a degree of latency surrounding it – possibly because of the use of an intermediary server on top of general network / connectivity aspects. This can be particularly noticeable when ceasing avatar movement, which can result in a degree of “rubber banding” as the avatar’s position as estimated by the client is updated with its position as recorded by the simulator. As such, I found it preferable to use light, repeated taps on the movement keys rather than holding them down for extended periods.

I also encountered a peculiar issue with my avatar simply refusing to stop walking, even after a teleport; something that I could only remedy by relogging. It’s something that may well be unique to me, although I’ve reported it to the Speedlight team just in case. Should anyone trying Gold membership with Speedlight encounter a similar problem also advise the Speedlight team?

Overall, and in terms of appearance, it is not unfair to say that Speedlight’s world view is pretty much on a par at this point in its development with that Lumiya’s world view during its earliest days of development – and look how far that went over time. Whether Speedlight will go on to mature to a similar level of capability with its rendering obviously remains to be seen. However, given that development is only a couple of months old (and niggles aside) what has been produced thus far is not to be sneezed at, and I look forward to continuing to cover the client’s development in the future.

Related Links