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

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: Gold capabilities and recent updates

via Speedlight

Speedlight, the browser based / Android Second Life client, continues to be developed and updated, with new or improved capabilities being added almost weekly. The following is a round-up of some of the more recent updates, and well as some I’ve not previously mentioned, including the Gold-only Mass IM tool.

Transfer Gold Status between Avatars

If you have two or more avatar accounts connected to your Speedlight account, one of which is Gold status, you can now transfer that status between your avatar accounts. Handy if you find you suddenly need a second account to briefly have the advantages of Gold, but not sufficiently long enough to justify an additional subscription or for becoming a Speedlight Patreon member.

To move your Gold status between avatar accounts:

  • Log-in to Second Life via your Speedlight account and then log-in to Second Life with the account that is not Gold.
  • Click / tap on the Make Gold option on the right of your avatar box.
  • The Gold upgrade screen is displayed. This now includes the name(s) of any Gold avatar accounts you already have under the title Take Gold From Another Avatar.
  • Click on the avatar name from which you want to transfer Gold status.
  • The Gold status will be removed from that account and conferred on the account you are using. Note that no confirmation is given, but the current logged-in account will list itself as being Gold.
Swapping Gold status between accounts

Word View

Rendering Updates

April 22nd, 2020 saw a series of updates to the rendering system generating the 3D world view. These include:

  • In-world objects are now load quickly in low quality, then get a higher quality when you look at them.
  • The distance fogging can be turned off if preferred.
  • The draw distance can be adjusted.
  • Linden Water level is correctly displayed.
  • Multiple performance improvements / fixes.
  • Updated scene information panel that can be toggled on / off.
  • UI touch joystick now allows walking and rotating.
  • Gold only: seated avatar mannequins are now rendered.
  • Overall 3D UI is more compact.

Updated Scene Information Panel

The world view information tab has been updated, and comprises four core elements:

  • The Scene Progress display link (generally open by default). When open, displays the land, object and texture load data.
  • The 3D Settings display. When open allows you to:
    • Toggle the distance fogging on/ off.
    • Increase / decrease your draw distance (default 50m).
  • Your connection status:
    • Green – you are connected to the region simulator.
    • Red – you are not connected to the simulator and will need to relog.
  • The current region coordinates of your camera.
The Scene Information panel and options

Notes on this panel:

  • It can be expanded  / reduced by clicking on one or other of the scene process or 3D settings links.
    • One click will toggle from one to the other.
    • Clicking on the same link twice will either expand / close it or close / expand it, depending on its initial state.
  • Be careful with setting the draw distance too high; this could place additional data transfer load on your connection to the rendering server.

Accessing Avatar Profiles in World View

An option I’ve not previously covered in discussing the 3D world view is the ability to view another avatar’s Profile directly in the world view.

  • Click / tap on the avatar.
  • The avatar’s Profile opens on the right edge of the world view.
  • The Profile buttons will function as follows:
    • The Send IM and Notecard buttons will switch you to the IM window in the client.
    • The Pay L$ will switch you to the L$ and transactions window in the client.
    • Offer Teleport and Offer Friendship will open an invitation in the world view.
Another avatar’s profile can be displayed in the world view by clicking on the required avatar mannequin

Send Note Cards via IM

Introduced on April 16th, Speedlight’s Note Cards from IM allows you to:

  • Send a note card directly from an IM session.
  • Reply to a received note card in an open IM session with a *new* note card.

Sending a Notecard Using IM

  • Open an IM session with the person to whom you want to send a note card.
    • Note that you can already be chatting with them, and simply wish to send additional information.
  • Click / tap on the down arrow to the right of the Send button at the bottom of the IM display to open a list of options.
  • Click / tap  on notecard.
  • The text input area will expand to display:
    • The note card title field, which will default to “From [avatar name] [time stamp].
    • The body text area.
  • Change the title as required, and use the text entry field to write the contents of the note card.
  • Click / tap Send to deliver.
The send a note card from IM capability

Reading the Replying to Note Cards via IM

Should you receive a note Card via an open IM session, the text of the IM will be displayed in the main IM window, as shown below. A button displayed at the end of the note card text that allows you to reply using a fresh note card..

Receiving the text of a note card in IM, and replying using a note card

Again, the note card fields at the bottom of the IM window should be filled out as requires, and the Send button used to send it.

Gold Only: Mass IM Tool

This is not a new feature to Speedlight, but this is the first opportunity I’ve had to review it. In short, it does exactly what the title implies: allows you to send a single IM to multiple recipients.

Accessed via the IM option in the left side menu, Its use is self explanatory as well:

  • Enter the message in the top field.
  • Add a list of intended recipients in the lower left field, one name per line (this must be avatar names, not group names).
  • If required, check / tap the Save Sent Messages to Speedlight IMs to save a copy of the message to your IM logs.
  • Click /tap the Start Delivery button.
  • As the IM is delivered to each name on the list, a confirmation of delivery is displayed in the lower right text field.
    • You’ll also receive a notification on the status of each delivery.
The Speelight Mass IM option (Gold only)

Observations

The ability to transfer a Gold membership between avatar accounts is an excellent move for those who may occasionally need to have an alt access the more advanced world view available to Gold accounts, or to remain on-line without hourly re-logs. Similarly, the notecard updates in the IM options makes Speedlight even more flexible as a communications tool.

The world view rendering performance improvements should also be a welcome update for Gold members (I didn’t notice and particular increase for free accounts, but that might have simply been my connection). I did find the the problem of the avatar not stopping walking once in motion, as reported in my April 8th Speedlight update, to still be present; while I’ve heard two other users say they’ve had the same problem as well, I’ve no idea how widespread it might be.

That issue aside, Speedlight  – while still very much in an beta stage of development – continues to progress. Watching the Discord server channels for the client, I’ve been impressed with the degree of communications from the team responsible for Speedlight, and their willingness to engage with users.

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

Second Life companion app: mini update, March 2020

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
(video extract)

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.

General Capabilities

  • 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.

Availability

  • 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.