Linden Lab confirm Second Life iOS client in the making

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

On January 9th, 2019, and thanks to a pointer from Whirly Fizzle, I blogged Lab working on a Second Life iOS client? noting that a Bit Bucket code repository had recently been set-up by Brad Linden for just such a purpose.

In writing the piece, which includes some of the Lab’s recent commentary of the subject of mobile / streaming solutions for Second Life, I indicated that I had contacted Linden Lab with a series of questions concerning the repository and what it might signify, and that I’d provide an update on receiving any reply.

Being so early into the work, the Lab declined to comment on all of the questions I asked, but here is what they did say via-email in responding to my enquiry:

As you point out, we discussed at our Town Hall events last year that we’re actively looking at ways to extend the reach of Second Life to new audiences including mobile platforms. For example, we’re in the early stages of work on an iOS companion app for Second Life.  

Right now we’re focused on getting a prototype out to our Residents, at which point we’ll be looking for feedback and suggestions. In the early stages, we will not be tying the app to a streaming service. However, we don’t have anything to formally announce yet about the specific features, capabilities, and availability.

– Brett Linden,  Second life Marketing Manager, via e-mail

Granted, it’s not a lot of information, but there are a couple of potentially interesting elements to the statement that might help contextualise things /  be indicative of some of the thinking still in place at the Lab. For example, the use of the term mobile platforms and noting that that the iOS work is offered as an example of this work.

This would perhaps suggests (and in answer to some of the questions asked following my original piece) that an Android client is still part of the Lab’s thinking. Certainly, it is something I’d anticipate, given both the popularity of the Android platform and the popularity of Lumiya and Mobile Grid Client*.

I also found the comment In the early stages, we will not be tying the app to a streaming service interesting, suggesting as it does that a future streaming solution is still very much part of the Lab’s broader thinking.

Again, this would make sense given the ongoing move of SL to the cloud. As well as providing the means to deliver SL as a whole to users, the cloud move further deepens the Lab’s relationship with AWS. This might in turn allow them to more positively and cost-effectively (to both the Lab and to users) supply a streaming service to mobile devices and web browsers at some point in the future. Perhaps this might even be part of a broader examination of their product offerings once Second Life is firmly established within a cloud-based infrastructure.

So, food for thought; in the meantime. I’ll continue to update on the iOS work as / if / when news emerges.

* I’m intentionally avoiding LightSight here, as it is questionable as to whether the app is still being maintained and the repeated complaints that users have been unable to log-in since the last update (October 2016).

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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

2018 SL UG updates #13/1: Simulator User Group

Soul2Soul River; Inara Pey, February 2018, on FlickrSoul2Soul Riverblog post

Server Deployments

As always, please refer to the server deployment thread for the latest updates.

  • The Main (SLS) channel was updated on Tuesday, March 27th, to server release 18#18.03.14.513292, containing the new server capabilities (see below).
  • At the time of writing, the Release Candidate channels were all TBD regarding potential deployments. This report will be updated if the deployment thread provides further information on the RC channels.

New Capabilities

The new capabilities in 18#18.03.14.513292 for the Main (SLS) channel is the first part of a set of server and viewer updates.

  • The new IM cap is to overcome of off-line IMs failing to be delivered when a user logs in. Currently, these are delivered via UDP, whether or not the viewer is ready to receive them. With the new capability (once grid-wide and implemented within the viewer), the viewer will request off-line IMs, which the server will package and deliver to the viewer via HTTP.
  • The new abuse report cap will replace the need for the viewer to have AR categories hard-coded into it. Once fully deployed, and a viewer update released, it will mean the view will request the current list of AR categories from the server when starting up, making the management of the list easier, and hopefully reducing the number of ARs filed under outdated categories.

Updates to the viewer incorporating these changes will be made available by the lab in the near future.

SL Viewer

  • The Maintenance RC viewer updated to version 5.1.3.513630 on Friday, March 23rd.
  • The Media Update RC viewer updated to version 5.1.3.513644, on Tuesday, March 27th.

The remainder of the pipeline remains as:

  • Current Release version 5.1.2.512803, dated February 23, promoted March 1 – formerly the Nalewka Maintenance RC – No change
  • Release channel cohorts:
  • Project viewers:
  • Linux Spur viewer, version 5.0.9.329906, dated November 17, 2017 and promoted to release status 29 November – offered pending a Linux version of the Alex Ivy viewer code.
  • Obsolete platform viewer, version 3.7.28.300847, May 8, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

In Brief

First Name / Last Name Changes

This is still a long way off from being implemented, however, Oz Linden confirmed llDetectedName() will return the current name for an avatar, no matter what the change. However, it may take some time for it to change everywhere due to caches.

More on the return of last names and name changes, please refer to The return of Second Life Last Names – update with audio.

SL Messaging Layer

Simon Linden is looking into the Second Life messaging layer, which may be the problem behind a lot of “lag” issues. “There’s actually a number of small improvements I want to make, but I’m being careful to do them one at a time and have real data showing it gets better,” he said in providing an update on the work.

Friendship Offers Failing

Some are experiencing Friendship offers failing, even when the offer is accepted – see BUG-215977. According to Simon Linden, this might require a server-side update to fully correct.

Region Crossings

Simon Linden has been looking at vehicle region crossings alongside of  Joe Magarac (animats) testing with the viewer (See Firestorm JIRA FIRE-21915, BUG-214653, this SL Forum thread, this Google document, and my update here for more).

Part of the issue, a previously noted, is viewer / simulator communications. If these are suffering latency or packet loss, then things can get rough with vehicle region crossing very quickly. This is something Joe has been trying to compensate for by introducing a script that turns off physics and freezes the vehicle when received by a new region until it can confirm the associated avatar data has arrived.

Unfortunately, excising the viewer from region crossing data handling would be difficult, as it has to be involved to move and change its primary connection for an avatar. It would take a major protocol change to remove the viewer from the region crossing loop and separate connection hand-off from crossings. Further, if such a protocol change were to be made, it would require more work to support both new and old until enough viewers get updated.

Mainland Price Restructuring

While the Lab does not issue numbers, Oz Linden indicated at the Simulator User Group meeting that since the Mainland Price Restructuring, “mainland ownership is up quite significantly.”

SL project updates week #48/1: server, e-mail verification, viewer

Malal's Autumn; Inara Pey, November 2017, on FlickrMalal’s Autumnblog post

Server Deployments Week #48

  • There was no deployment on the Main (SLS) channel on Tuesday, November 28th, leaving servers running simulator version 17#17.11.11.510664.
  • On Wednesday, November 29th, the three RC channels should be updated with a new server maintenance package 17#17.11.17.510835, comprising:
    • IMs sent to an off-line resident will only be sent to verified email addresses.
    • Internal Changes to Outgoing Emails.

E-mail Verification

The RC server deployment sees a further step in the Lab’s plan to reduce the volume of e-mail traffic it generates by only sending e-mails to those addresses Second Life users have actually verified as being valid with Linden Lab (see Making Email From Second Life (More) Reliable).

With this deployment, and if you have not verified your preferred SL-related e-mail address with Linden Lab, you will no longer receive off-line IMs as e-mails sent from users on any regions using the RC channels. Further, once this change is deployed to the Main (SLS) channel, you will no longer receive off-line IMs as e-mails at all until such time as you have verified your SL-related e-mail address with the Lab.

So, if you haven’t already done so, ad wish to continue receiving off-line IMs as e-mails from wherever they originate in-world, make sure you have verified the e-mail address recorded in your viewer  with Linden Lab. Should you require detailed instructions on how to do this, please refer to my blog post Important: verifying your e-mail address with Second life.

SL Viewer

There have been no SL viewer updates thus far, leaving the current viewer pipelines as follows:

  • Current Release version 5.0.8.329115, dated September 22, promoted October 13 – formerly the “Moonshine” Maintenance RC.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Martini Maintenance RC viewer, version 5.0.9.329906 November 17th.
    • Alex Ivy 64-bit viewer, version 5.1.0.510354, November 2nd (still dated Sept 5th on the wiki page).
    • Voice RC viewer, version 5.0.8.328552, October 20 (still dated Sept 1 on the wiki page).
  • Project viewers:
  • Obsolete platform viewer version 3.7.28.300847, dated May 8th, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

 

SL project updates 2017 14/1: server, viewer

Orcadi Islandblog post

Server Deployments

As always, please refer to the server deployment thread for the latest information.

  • On Tuesday, April 4th, the Main (SLS) channel received the server maintenance package previously deployed to the three RC channels in week #13, comprising a small update to asset metrics stats logging.
  • On Wednesday, April 5th, the three RC channels should all receive a new server maintenance package which includes a new option in the estate settings which allows parcel owners to override the public access settings for all parcels in the estate. However, this change is pending a viewer update in order to make it visible to users.

SL Viewer

The Maintenance RC viewer updated to version 5.0.4.325124 on Monday, April 3rd. This viewer as a number of updates and improvements, which I reviewed in a recent post (albeit for the earlier version of the viewer).

Outside of this, the release of the LL viewer pipeline remains unchanged:

  • Current Release version 5.0.3.324435, dated March 13th – snapshots to e-mail hotfix
  • Release channel cohorts:

    • Voice RC viewer version 5.0.4.324770 released on March 20th – several improvements to voice
  • Project viewers:
    • Project AssetHttp project viewer, version 5.0.4.324828 dated  March 30th – This viewer moves fetching of several types of assets to HTTP / CDN – overview
    • Project Alex Ivy (LXIV), 64-bit project viewer, version 5.1.0.503537 dated March 17th
    • 360-degree snapshot viewer, version 4.1.3.321712 dated November 23rd, 2016 – ability to take 360-degree panoramic images – hands-on review
  • Obsolete platform viewer version 3.7.28.300847 dated May 8th, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

Region Capacity and Access

On Tuesday, April 4th the Lab announced increases of between 10% and 25% on the number of avatars can enter a region, the exact percentage depending on the region type. These percentages apply to the default maximum number of avatars each type of region (Full, Homestead and Open Space), and to the limit imposed by the region owner. They also include other changes – refer to the official blog post (or my own) for further information.

Commenting on the change at the Simulator User Group meeting, Oz linden pointed out the change was made as an attempt to respond to multiple requests made at the SUG meetings for accessing full regions to be “improved”. Hints were given that the approach might be further refined  / updated in the future.

SL project updates 2017-1/1: general status

A Painter's Link, Salomon Beach; Inara Pey, December 2016, on Flickr A Painter’s Link, Salomon Beach (closing January 6th, don’t miss!) – blog post

Server Deployments

The RC channels were re-started on December 28th, 2016, to the consternation of some on the Server thread of the technology forum as there was no accompanying update. A rolling restart of the Main (SLS) occurred on Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017, again with further consternation on the thread.

However, as a quick check through the viewer can reveal, both of these operations were simply restarts to keep things running (reasonably) smoothly, as shown by the server version numbers remaining unchanged when viewed in the viewer (Help > About viewer).

No restart is anticipated for the RC channels on Wednesday, January 4th, given they were restarted at the end of December. The usual run of deployments + restarts are expected to resume in week #2 (week commencing Monday, January 9th) with the three RC channels.

SL Viewer

With the holiday break, there has been no movement with the official viewer, with four currently occupying the various pipelines:

  • Current Release version: 5.0.0.321958, dated December 1st, promoted December 5th – formerly the Project Bento RC viewer
  • Maintenance RC viewer, version 5.0.1.322513, dated December 21st – some 42 fixes and improvements + Bento support
  • 360-degree snapshot project viewer, version 4.1.3.321712, dated November 23rd – ability to take 360-degree panoramic images – hands-on review
  • Obsolete platform viewer version 3.7.28.300847, dated May 8, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

It had been indicated that the Lab might get a project version of their 64-bit viewer out prior to the holiday break, but this proved not to be the case.