Revisiting Second Life mobile options

Logos copyright and Trademark Google, Linden Lab and Apple Inc., respectively

With the recent confirmation that Linden Lab is working on an iOS solution for accessing Second Life, there has been renewed interest in what is available – and it struck me that since my initial reviews of mobile clients such as Mobile Grid Client (2011) – and with the exception of Lumiya – I’ve not really updated on those clients that are available.

This being the case, here’s a quick round-up of those mobile (Android and iOS) solutions recorded on the Third Party Viewer Directory. These are not intended to be comprehensive reviews, but will hopefully provide a general overview of the products and their capabilities / status.

Android

Mobile Grid Client

  • Available since: 2010.
  • Last updated: 2016.
  • Text only.
  • Subscription package.
  • OpenSim support: yes.
  • Website.
  • Reviewed:  November 2011.

Mobile Grid Client is the longest running of the Android clients listed on the TPV Directory. A text-only application, it provides a range of options, including OpenSim support – but these are subject to the subscription package taken, one of which must be selected after an initial 14-day trial period.

Mobile Grid Client: inventory options (note some , such as the give / copy options are only available by taking the “Pro” subscription)

The available subscription options  are:

  • “Standard” version: L$250 per month, with a selection of features disabled (e.g. giving inventory to others, creating / copying notecards, changing your active group, paying avatars, OpenSim support).
  • “Pro” version L$450 per month / L$4500 per years, with access to all available features.

Please refer to the Mobile Grid Client licensing page for a breakdown of the application’s features by subscription model.

Opinion

In 2011, this was a reasonable application, given what was available at the time. Today, however, and even allowing for the subscription payments being non-recurring (so opting out is easy at the end of a subscription period), when compared to Lumiya (below), Mobile Grid Client is notably over-priced, even at the “Standard” subscription model.

Lumiya

  • Available since: 2012.
  • Last updated: October 2017.
  • Text  and graphical.
  • Single payment.
  • OpenSim support: yes.
  • Website
  • Reviewed:  March 2012-January 2017.

First released in 2012, Lumiya was, up until the start of 2017, routinely updated to keep pace with the latest viewer releases from Linden Lab as well as to provide bug fixing issues with various android platforms.

This application has such a well-rounded suite of capabilities, including plug-ins for voice and improved rendering (both available for free), that it pretty much matches the “full” viewer in features and functions, up to and including Bento support (January, 2017). It even has VR (Cardboard) support!

Lumiya even support HUD use in its 3D world view

Initially text-only when first introduced, Lumiya quickly progressed to basic graphical rendering prior to maturing into a very capable graphical client with continued improvements to the graphical UI to allow for better, easier and more comprehensive in-world interactions. For those who use it, Lumiya also respects RLV / RLVa

Opinion

Lumiya is the Rolls Royce of mobile Second Life / OpenSim clients, although development work seems to have frozen. There have been recent issues for some with the use of voice in recent months.

Even for occasional text use, inventory management, etc., this is the go-to Android client, while the 3D world rendering adds a whole now level to mobile SL / OpenSim use. True, the graphics are not as crisp and fresh as the “full” viewer, but considering everything Lumiya is packing into a hand-held device and it has not been developed within major financial input and technical support, it is not to be dismissed on that basis.

Very much the standard-bearer for what can be developed by way of mobile SL / OpenSim applications using Android.

LittleSight

  • Available since: 2012.
  • Last updated: October 2016.
  • Text  and graphical.
  • Single payment.
  • OpenSim support: No.
  • Google Play web page
  • Reviewed:  July 2012.

Appearing around the same time as Lumiya, LittleSight provides basic text chat and IM capabilities to users – albeit with ads displayed periodically. Additional capabilities, such as teleporting, and the removal of the ads can be had on payment of a small fee.

LittleSight: free for basic messaging. What to teleport / get rid of ads? Pay the fee – or just get Lumiya: you still pay, but you get way more bang for your bucks
Opinion

The most limited of the three Android clients, and one with reported issues for users trying to log-in with the latest version. While I encountered no problems myself with logged-in on re-installing LittleSight on my tablet device, I did find the map failed to render, but that seemed to be the only issue.

Given the need for payment, and the sheer volume of capabilities presented in Lumiya, unless the latter expressly will on work on a particular device, it is hard to see why anyone would opt to use LittleSight. You may not need all the tools available in Lumiya, but having them available just in case is not necessarily a bad thing.

Continue reading “Revisiting Second Life mobile options”

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Lumiya 3.4 goes Bento

lumiya-logoOn Friday, January 20th Lumiya, the Android client developed by Alina Lyvette gained the latest in what has been a flurry of updates for the client, with the release of version 3.4. This sees Lumiya gain support for the Project Bento skeleton extensions and rendering of associated avatar meshes and accessories.

All of the Bento updates are under-the-hood; there are no UI changes, and no Reset Skeleton options as seen in Bento-supporting viewers. As Alina explained to me in discussing the release, Lumiya’s approach to rendering should generally result in Bento avatars and accessories rendering correctly in the 3D world view.

Medhue Simoni's Bento MEGAwolf, as worn by my alt and rendered in Lumiya's 3D view
Medhue Simoni’s Bento MEGAWolf, as worn by my alt and rendered in Lumiya’s 3D view

For the vast majority of times, this is indeed the case. You can select and wear a Bento avatar or Bento accessory such as a head and wear / unwear it without any problems.

However, as was noted during Bento’s development, when swapping between quadruped avatars, which can involve severe deformation of the avatar skeleton,  and bipedal avatars, there can be times when your avatar doesn’t always resume its proper shape in the 3D world view, resulting in the avatar appearing deformed in your view (see below, right.

deformed
Very occasionally, when swapping between avatars – say quadruped to biped, you might encounter your avatar appearing deformed in Lumiya. Simply exit and restart the 3D view

These occurrences tend to be very intermittent / rare. As with their occurrence in a viewer, they might be the result of race conditions and / or missed appearance messages.

As Lumiya does not have any Reset Skeleton options, the problem can be fixed in one of two ways:

  • Tapping the actions menu icon (top right of the screen) and selecting Stop Avatar Animations. This will generate an appearance update, and should correct the problem
  • Exiting the 3D world view, and then enabling it again. This will again force an appearance update, and correct any deformation.

Note that in testing, these kinds of deformation issues didn’t extend to other avatars changing their form within viewing range of Lumiya 3.4, and they always rendered correctly following a change. However, should other avatars appear deformed in your 3D world view, try exiting and re-started the 3D view and see if they then render correctly.

Outside of this, Bento HUDs, where supplied can be added and used in the usual manner with Lumiya – attach the HUD, then select it via the on-screen HUD button.

You should be able to use Bento mesh HUDs as you would any other HUD in Lumiya
You should be able to use Bento mesh HUDs as you would any other HUD in Lumiya, via the HUD button & selection (lower left corner of the screen

As well as the Bento update, Lumiya 3.4 includes a couple of bug fixes:

  • Avatars should no longer get stuck in the non-animated pose (“T” pose).
  • Avatars should no longer flash when loading rigged mesh attachments.

Feedback

Given the nature of things, the code may yet require further nips and tucks, but on the whole, and outside of the rare deformation issue mentioned above, I didn’t encounter significant issues  – although my selection of Bento items is admittedly narrow, and my testing could not in any way be comprehensive.  All told, another great update to SL’s most cost-effective and feature-rich mobile client / option.

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Lumiya 3.3.1: audio controls and Bluetooth headsets

lumiya-logoOn Friday, January 13th, Alina Lyvette released version 3.3.1 of the Lumiya Android client for Second Life and OpenSim.

The release builds on the 3.3 update, which added Voice capabilities to Lumiya, by providing additional audio controls for Voice together with Bluetooth headset support, which are combined in a single easy-to-use UI addition. As well as this, the release includes a number of bugfixes.

The audio controls can be displayed any time that Voice is enabled and about to be used – see my Lumiya 3.3 review for details on how to enable Voice in Lumiya.

With voice enabled, tap on the telephone handset icon as you would to launch a Voice conversation. When the microphone bar is display on your screen either in local chat or as a result of someone accepting your Voice IM request, tap anywhere on the bar except the microphone icon or the X, and the audio controls will be displayed.

Lumiya Voice audio controls
Lumiya Voice audio controls

These comprise three elements:

  • And overall volume slider
  • A toggle button to activate your device’s external speaker
  • A toggle button to direct audio through your Bluetooth headset.

Bluetooth Headsets

Note that for Bluetooth connectivity to work, you will also need to update to the latest Lumiya Voice plug-in app and, obviously,have a Bluetooth headset pair with the device being used to run Lumiya. Once paired and the headset is active, Lumiya will automatically route incoming audio to the headset when you establish a voice call. Should you wish to place the incoming audio on your device’s speaker (and back), use the buttons on the Lumiya audio controls, described above.

Bug Fixes and Minor Improvements

The bug fixes and smaller improvements with this release comprise:

  • A fix for some texture uploads to fail.
  • A fix to prevent camera position being reset when exiting 3D view.
  • Region restart messages and other alerts will now display correctly.
  • Objects will be automatically rezzed under land group when possible.

Feedback

Adding Bluetooth support is an obvious step now Lumiya supports Voice, and while I was unable to test it myself (the only Bluetooth earpiece I have is a good decade old and has lain in a drawer for most of that time, and so unsurprisingly didn’t work when allowed to see light of day), the process appears simple enough.

A number of people have asked me about Lumiya and Bento. As I noted in my last Lumiya review, Alina is working on it, and probably the fairest time frame to put on it is that it will be released when it is ready 🙂 .

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Lumiya 3.3: Voice and more

lumiya-logoOn Sunday, December 18th, Alina Lyvette released Lumiya 3.3, the Second Life /  OpenSim Android client for smartphones and tablets.

The new update brings with it Voice chat via the built-in microphone on your device (or suitable Bluetooth unit connected to your device), the ability to upload images via your device, and additional VR support, including Google Daydream. The realise notes are available here.

Voice Chat

Voice chat for Lumiya 3.3 requires the download and installation of the free Voice plug-in app. Once you’ve downloaded and installed the plugin, the first step is to enable Voice:

  • Log-in via Lumiya.
  • Tap the menu icon (top left of the screen) and then tap Settings > Chat and Messages
  • Tap Enable Voice Chat and make sure it is checked as enabled. To disable, tap the option again.
Enable Voice via Menu (top left of the Lumiya screen) > Settings > Chat and Messages > Enable Voice Chat. Tap again to uncheck and disable at any time.
Enable Voice via Menu (top left of the Lumiya screen) > Settings > Chat and Messages > Enable Voice Chat. Tap again to uncheck and disable at any time.

With Voice chat enabled you can use voice for open chat, IM calls and via the 3D World view.

Open Chat

To initiate Voice chat in open chat, tap on Local Chat in Lumiya. then tap the telephone handset icon in the top right of the screen. This will enable your device’s microphone and display the open / close microphone bar. Tap the microphone icon to activate your microphone; the icon will turn green, indicating the microphone  on your device is hot, and the bar will display the instruction to Speak Now.

The open / close device microphone bar as it appears in either state on the open chat, 3D world view or IM chat screens in Lumiya
The open / close device microphone bar as it appears in either state on the open chat, 3D world view or IM chat screens in Lumiya

Remember to tap the bar again when you’ve finished speaking to prevent any extraneous noises around you from being picked-up and transmitted in-world. To close the current Voice chat session at any time, tap the X on the right of the chat bar (arrowed to the right, above).

IM Voice Calls

For an IM voice call, tap the name of the person you wish to IM (e.g. via the list of people nearby or your Friends list). When the IM window has opened, tap the telephone handset icon (top right.The microphone bar is displayed, with the message “Connecting…”. The person you are calling, assuming they are on a full viewer, will receive the usual Voice call message (shown inset, below).

Making a Voice IM call on Lumiya. The recipient - assuming they are on a full viewer will receive the usual notification (inset)
Making a Voice IM call on Lumiya. The recipient – assuming they are on a full viewer will receive the usual notification (inset – click for full size)
  • If they accept the call, the microphone icon on the left of the bar will turn green, indicating they’ve accepted the call, and your microphone is now hot. Remember to tap the bar when you’ve finished speaking to prevent any extraneous noises around you from being picked-up and transmitted in-world.
  • If they reject the call, or opt to converse in IM via text, the microphone bar will vanish.
  • If they do not answer the call before the Voice connection times out, the microphone bar will vanish.
  • To end the call, tap the X on the right of the microphone bar.
    • Note that you can restart the conversation from the IM window by tapping the Action menu icon (three vertical dots, top right of the screen) and selecting Voice Chat from the drop-down. This will initiate a fresh call.

Should you be in receipt of an IM Voice call when using Lumiya, a drop-down will appear at the top of the window you are using, and you can opt to accept or reject the call. If you reject the call, but wish to converse via IM text and are not in the IM chat window, you’ll have to manually switch to the IM window for the person who called you.

When in receipt of a Voice IM call, a drop-down will be displayed at the top of the currently active Lumiya screen (3D world view shown)
When in receipt of a Voice IM call, a drop-down will be displayed at the top of the currently active Lumiya screen (3D world view shown)

If you accept the call, the microphone bar will be displayed, and your microphone will be hot. Remember to tap the bar when you’ve finished speaking to prevent any extraneous noises around you from being picked-up and transmitted in-world.

Continue reading “Lumiya 3.3: Voice and more”

Lumiya 3.2: Google Cardboard support

lumiya-logoOn Thursday, November 24th, Alina Lynette release Lumiya 3.2, which brings with it support for Google Cardboard and compatible VR kits and headsets!

Even though the Lab has – at least for the foreseeable future – put work on a VR headset compatible version of the viewer off to one side, interest in seeing Second Life from the “inside”, as a fully immersive VR experience remains high, and Alina has sought to rise to the challenge with Lumiya.

There are obviously a couple of caveats to using the application in VR mode:

  • You really need a suitable headset
  • You need a device with Andorid 6.0+ Marshmallow installed

I have Android 6, but I don’t have any form of headset, Cardboard or otherwise, that I can use with my device – which happens to be a Nexus 7 2013 HD Tablet – a little clunky for any headset device, although there are some out there. Nevertheless, I gave the new capability a go as best I could.

To enter VR mode on a suitable device, simply log-in to Second Life on Lumiya, and then go to the 3D view (Menu icon, top left > 3D view).

Access the VR mode in Lumiya 3.2 is done via the Action menu, when in the 3D view
Access the VR mode in Lumiya 3.2 is done via the Action menu, when in the 3D view

Once the view has loaded, tap the Action menu icon (top right) and select Virtual Reality Mode. The first time you do this, you will be prompted whether you want Lumiya to handle speech-to-text conversion for you to allow you to “converse” in-world, via the “microphone” button. You can deny this if you wish, but it will leave you with no means to converse.

Whether you Allow or Deny the speech-to-text conversion, Lumiya will switch output to a stereoscopic format, suitable for use with Cardboard devices and the likes of the Samsung Gear VR. Three buttons are projected into the field-of-view:

  • Microphone – for enabling speech-to-text translation
  • Finger – for touching things
  • Chat bubble for text-mode chat.

Any of the three can be activated by staring at the required button – it should be highlighted when your stare is registered – then pressing the Cardboard device flap (or button / magnet actuator in the case of a Cardboard V1 device). If you’re trying Lumiya in VR mode without a headset, you can try staring at the button and touching the top of the screen between the left and right view – how successful you might be is debatable, and dependent upon on a number of factor (ambience background light, etc).

Movement is achieved by tapping and holding the same area of the device (or screen, if not using a device) while not looking at any of the buttons. You will then move in the direction yo are looking. Release the device / screen to stop.

Lumiya in VR stereoscopic mode. When using a Cardboard or similar device, staring at the on-screen buttons and pressing the flap / button on the device should activate the required function. Or if you're not using a device, you can try staring at a button and touching the screen where indicated (approximately) by the red circle. Pressing this point (or the flap / button on a device) will allow you to walk in the direction to are looking
Lumiya in VR stereoscopic mode. When using a Cardboard or similar device, staring at the on-screen buttons and pressing the flap / button on the device should activate the required function. Or if you’re not using a device, you can try staring at a button and touching the screen where indicated (approximately) by the red circle. Pressing this point (or the flap / button on a device) will allow you to walk in the direction to are looking

To exit VR mode, manually tap the X icon top left of the screen. The gear icon, top right can be manually used to access the Google Cardboard application for calibrating your headset device, if required (and if installed on your device).

The 3.2 release also includes a bug fix to prevent a black screen in the 3D world view when anti-aliasing is enabled.

As I am without a suitable headset kit / device, I was unsuccessful trying to test the button functionality, but the walking certainly worked for me without a hitch. Adding VR to Lumiya might seem to some a bit of a niche thing, but that doesn’t stop it from being a fun addition. It certainly further demonstrates what can be achieved with the application, and kudos (again) to Alina for her work.

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Lumiya: Google drive support for chat and IM logs

lumiya-logoLumiya, the go-to Second Life / Open Sim client for Android by Alina Lyvette, updated on Wednesday, October 19th, although it’s taken me a few days to get around to blogging about it.

Version 3.1.2 contains a single up-front change, but it’s one users are liable to appreciate: the ability to save chat and IM logs to their Google drive.

To do so, two things are required:

  • An active Google account with access to Google drive (no surprises there).
  • The Lumiya Cloud Plugin available via Google Play for free.

Setting  things up is a simple set of steps:

  • Download and install the Lumiya Cloud Plugin on the devices(s) you use with Lumiya.
  • Log-in to Lumiya and go to Settings via the menu (top left icon) and select Chat and Messages.
  • Tap Save chat history to Google Drive to enable it.
Setting Lumiya to save chat and IM logs to your Google Drive
Setting Lumiya to save chat and IM logs to your Google Drive
  • A pop-up is displayed for your Google account (not your Second Life account). If you have more than one Google account, you may be asked to enter the details of the account you wish to associate with Lumiya.
Selecting your Google account
Selecting your Google account
  • Providing you have selected the Google account you wish to use, tap Add Account.
  • A further pop-up is displayed asking you to allow the Lumiya Cloud Plugin service to access your Google drive in order to save and retrieve chat and IM log files.
  • Providing you’re happy, tap Allow.
Granting the cloud app permission to save and retrieve your chat and IM logs
Granting the cloud app permission to save and retrieve your chat and IM logs

And that’s it. You only need to do this once per device, you don’t have to do it for each of your SL accounts if you have more than one. When you log in to Second Life, your chat and IM histories will be available, and saved automatically.

If you ever want to revert to saving your histories directly onto your device, simply go to Menu (top left) > Settings > Chat and Messages and uncheck  Save chat history to Google Drive.

Feedback

This is a handy update for Lumiya, offering a single location for chat and IM logs which could be especially useful for those who may use Lumiya on more than one device (e.g. a Tablet and a smartphone), as it removes discontinuities in saving logs locally – although obviously, you’ll have to use the Lumiya Cloud Plugin to associate each device with your Google account / drive.

And if Google Drive isn’t your thing? Then you can continue to save your logs directly to the storage on your device. Simples!

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