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”

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.

Related Links

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!

Related Links

Lumiya 3.1: go faster stripes and taking snapshots

lumiya-logoLumiya, the go-to Second Life / Open Sim client for Android by Alina Lyvette has received a further set of updates and bug fixes with the rapid-fire release of version 3.1 and version 3.1.1.

Both updates appeared on Tuesday, September 27th, version 3.1.1 offering several bug-fixes following the initial 3.1 release, while the latter offers fixes, tweaks, improvements and new features.

The major improvement is actually under-the-hood, with the adoption OpenGL ES 3.0 support within Lumiya. For those running the app on a modern smartphone or tablet, this should see much improved rendering of meshes in the 3D world view, including mesh bodies and avatar attachments, and improvements in frame rates. It should also provide much better rendering of translucent mesh clothing, getting much closer to how it should actually look.

Alongside of this comes a number of UI / functional changes and additions, including:

  • The ability to edit parts of your Profile & add notes to other profiles
  • The ability to take and share snapshots
  • Setting your home location
  • Mesh body HUDs should now work as expected
  • Kemono avatars should now render correctly
  • Play sound stream moved to the Action menu (top right of screen) when in the Contacts / chat windows
  • Screen corruption in 3D view on certain Adreno 305 and 320 GPUs (e.g. Sony Xperia T3)
  • A fix for a crash when saving notecard data.

Some of these updates are looked at in more detail below.

Lumiya 3.1 should allow mesh body users to use their HUD systems - use pinch-zoom to enlarge the HUD if required
Lumiya 3.1 should allow mesh body users to use their HUD systems – use pinch-zoom to enlarge the HUD if required

Profile Editing

The Profile editing options comprise: changing your Profile picture, editing your About details and creating / editing personal / private notes on either your own profile or the profile of another avatar (personal / profile notes only).

You can change your Profile picture, edit your About description and / or add personal notes in Lumiya
You can change your Profile picture, edit your About description and / or add personal notes in Lumiya

To do this with your own Profile, go to the menu (top left icon) then My Avatar > My Profile. This will open your profile. Tap Change Picture to open your inventory to select a new picture. To update your About description or personal notes, scroll down to the relevant part of your Profile and tap the Edit option. This will take you to an Edit screen, and open your device’s on-screen keyboard for editing.

Tapping the Edit options with About and personal notes will open an edit window and display your device's on-screen keyboard
Tapping the Edit options with About and personal notes will open an edit window and display your device’s on-screen keyboard

Add Notes to another Profile

To add personal notes to the Profile of another avatar, locate the avatar in your Contacts or through the Nearby option. Tap the avatar name, then tap their Profile icon (top right of the window). Their profile will open, and you can scroll down to Personal Notes and tap Edit.

Take and Share Snapshots

Lumiya 3.1 presents users with the ability to create and share snapshots from the 3D view. To take a snapshot, go to the 3D view and position your camera as required. Tap the Action menu (top right of the window) and then tap Share Screenshot…

This will take a picture of your in-world view, and then display your available options for sharing the image. Note that this might include options to save the snapshot to your device which are not supported at this time. You can, however, upload to Google+, Google Photos, etc., or send via e-mail, etc.

You can now take and share snapshots using Lumiya
You can now take and share snapshots using Lumiya

Setting Your Home Location

When you wish to set home to the location you are in, open the Action Menu and tap Location Details. A Set Home option should be displayed on the right side of the location title bar.

Setting your Home Location from the Locations Details window
Setting your Home Location from the Locations Details window

Feedback

I’ve not had the opportunity to play in-depth with the updates with this release, so this is very much a rapid-fire overview based on the time I’ve had available with Lumiya 3.1. During my 90 minutes (ish) for fiddling, I encountered no problems and happily edited my profile, updated some notes on another profile, and e-mailed a number of snapshots via Gmail. Testing my Maitreya HUD went well, with pinch-zoom I could enlarge it sufficiently to tap the tabs on it, mask / show parts of my body, etc. Understandably, rendering of the HUD was a little fuzzy and made reading labels a little difficult, but anyone with a reasonable degree of familiarity with their HUD shouldn’t find this a major issue.

Alina indicates that further updates are on the way, and what we have here sees Lumiya take a further step to becoming the indispensable option for Android users needing on-the-go access to Second Life and OpenSim (data charges allowing if not on wifi!).

Related Links

Lumiya 3: welcome to a new Lumiya

lumiya-logoUpdate: July 30th: Alina has released version 3.0.2, which should fix the issue of exporting conversations to the Android Documents folder, and which provides the ability to drag a visble HUD on your screen to reposition it.

Lumiya, the go-to Second Life / Open Sim client for Android has been extensively updated, with version 3.0 released on Wednesday, July 27th, and a further 3.0.1 release with additional fixes, options and requests, hitting Google Play on Thursday, July 28th.

For those unfamiliar with Lumiya, it is an extensive Android client offering all the essential functionality found in the viewer: ability to chat, IM, carry out group functions, manipulate  inventory and outfits, manage transactions, interact with objects (including viewing & editing scripts, permissions allowing), teleport to places, view the map, and so on. And, for those who wish a more immersive experience on their android device (providing it has the processing power), Lumiya provides a real-time scene rendering capability, allowing you to see the world and other avatars, touch objects, operate your camera, walk, fly, and so on.

With version 3, Alina Lyvette, Lumiya’s developer, has completely overhauled the client, and while there are still some little niggles, the result is once again quite astonishing.

The Interface

For regular Lumiya users the most obvious change is to the client’s UI. This has been completely re-worked top-to-bottom, offering a far more intuitive, mobile device style approach, incorporating things like pinch / zoom screen actions, sliding menus, and a much cleaner look and feel. By default, Lumiya now launches in its blue / white appearance, with the blue / black an option, alongside a new pink appearance option. In addition, the 3D mode has been overhaul to make use of mobile device gestures such as pinch / zoom and drag, and the buttons have been revised and improved to give the in-world view a much cleaner look.

The log-in screen retains much of the “old” look, with short cuts to select the details of any account previously used to log-in to SL with Lumiya & auto-populate the user name / password fields, and to access the client’s settings, together with a drop-down to access the grid selector (where you can also add new grids) or to show your password in text when logging-in.

The clean, cool blue UI with the android menu icon now used for accessing Lumiya's main menu, and the inclusion of profile images for places, contacts, etc.
Lumiya 3 uses the blue / white UI by now the default, although the blue / black (and a pick / white) option remains available for those who prefer it

Once logged-in, the UI is in conversation mode, with local chat open  the conversation screen opens. This has two points of particular interest: the first is the Android menu icon in the top left corner of the screen  (see above), which replaces the Lumiya icon. tapping this will display the Lumiya menu (which can also be displayed with a simple left-to-right swipe of the screen).

The second is that profile icons are now displayed in the chat and contact tabs throughout Lumiya – in the image above, for example, the profile picture for Preiddeu Annwn is displayed in the image above.

The Lumiya menu can be displayed either by clicking the Android menu icon, or via a finger swipe from the left
The Lumiya menu can be displayed either by clicking the Android menu icon, or via a finger swipe from the left, and can be scrolled up / down, if required

The new UI design does mean there are some significant changes to where some options might now be found which will take users a little time to get used to; however many of these changes make Lumiya feel more “viewer like” in its approach. For example, group options have all now been brought together under the group profile display, rather than various menu / drop-down options. What’s more, they now allow group roles to be created and assigned, and member’s abilities edited.

So, accessing a group profile is now a matter of clicking Group tab in the Chat window, then tapping the required group and tapping the Profile icon in the top right of the group message display. The group’s profile is displayed in a layout similar to that of many TPVs, with individual tabs accessing various options. Thus, people can be invited into the group from the Profile tab (providing you have the ability to invite new members); roles can be added / edited from the Roles tab; and members can be operated on from the Members tab.

With group, you can now invite new members through the group's profile windows (left) view group roles (centre) or members; create new role (via the + button, centre), assign / remove abilities to / from roles (right) and changes members' roles or eject members etc (not shown above). Click for full size, if required.
With group, you can now invite new members through the group’s profile windows (left) view group roles (centre) or members; create new role (via the + button, centre), assign / remove abilities to / from roles (right) and changes members’ roles or eject members etc (not shown above). Click for full size, if required.

Given the extend of changes to the IU, the easiest way to familiarise yourself with them is to spend time using Lumiya. Keep an eye out for changing icons, and things like the Android three vertical dots icon (generally top right of the Lumiya window), indicating when further options are available within in given screen.

The 3D View

The other very noticeable change to Lumiya for existing users is the 3D world view (Lumiya menu > 3D View). As noted above, this now uses Android pinch and drag gestures to manipulated the camera by default, leaving the (redesigned) on-screen buttons for avatar movement and flight. However, for those who prefer to toggle the movement buttons between avatar and camera movement, it can be reinstated via Lumiya menu > Settings > 3D View, and then checking Show Camera Button. note that even with the camera button enabled, you can still use Android gestures to manipulate the camera as well. For ease of reference, screen captures here show the camera button.

3D-1
The updated 3D View in Lumiya

The two overlay buttons – Chat and Outfit – do just that: overlay the in-world view with your chat options or Outfit folder, allowing you to converse or change outfit, as per previous versions of Lumiya.  However, the two buttons which are likely to be of particular interest in the new 3D view are the HUD button (lower left) and the Target Picker (top right of the Lumiya window).

Continue reading “Lumiya 3: welcome to a new Lumiya”

Second Life on the go: Lumiya on Windows?!

lumiya-logoLumiya is an Android client for Second Life which is really quite remarkable. I’ve followed its development through these pages at length since it first appeared back in 2012, all the way through to the most recent 2.6 iterations; and while things have been quiet for a while, rest assured, development work is continuing, although developer Alina Lyvette has been very caught-up with physical world matters.

But did you know you can also run Lumiya on Windows*?

I suspect the responses to this question would be a combination of “No,” and “Why would I want it to?” The former is to be expected, and the latter not unreasonable; after all if you have a computer capable of running the Second Life viewer reasonably well why would you want to try anything else?

One possible “why” might be if you have a relatively low-end laptop you use when on the move, and would like to use it on occasion to access SL, but don’t want to meet the costs involved in running Bright Canopy’s (very excellent) service (which I’ve also covered in these pages), and would prefer something bigger than the average android device screen when accessing SL.

While I’ve not played at length with things, I did come across an Android emulator called Bluestacks which runs on the PC, and used to be available for Mac*. It makes running Lumiya on Windows a breeze in four easy steps:

  • Download and run the Bluestacks installer
  • Run the Bluestacks player and sync it to your Google Android account
  • Run Google Play and install Lumiya (note the app does have a one-off purchase fee if you have not previously installed it)
  • Launch Lumiya.
Running Lumiya via Bluestacks on a Windows notebook
Running Lumiya via Bluestacks on a Windows notebook

There are a few things to note when running Lumiya in this way. Obviously, being built for Android, it is intended for touch screen use. While Bluestacks does a credible job of allowing mouse and pointer control and the use of keyboard controls such as the arrow keys and WASD, I tended to find that things did sometimes “stick”, prompting a return to the on-screen movement / camera focus keys (lower right corner of the screen).

Given Lumiya is running on a “standard” computer, it’s also easy to slip into the expectation that it will respond to things like ALT-camming when it obviously won’t – this is still an Android app running through an emulator, after all! Given this, it goes without saying that if you’re new to Lumiya, you have a lot to learn via the UI and options – feel free to use my reviews linked to above 🙂 .

Also keep in mind  that as Lumiya is an Android app, the graphics don’t have the same fidelity as the viewer, and running it through an emulator isn’t going to magically give you that kind of fidelity. If that is what you’re looking for when on the move and don’t have a good laptop, then Bright Canopy is your best option outside of a new computer / GPU.

Lum iya may not have the same graphics fidelity as a full viewer, but if your looking for something that can provide you with an in-world view while on the move with a laptop, running in on Bluestacks might be a viable option
Lumiya may not have the same graphics fidelity as a full viewer, but if you’re looking for something that can provide you with an in-world view while on the move with a low-end laptop and for whatever reason, don’t want to use Bright Canopy, running it in through the Bluestacks emulator might be a viable option

Also, as you are running through a laptop there might be a temptation to push Lumiya’s settings to the max. I’d actually suggest some caution here; your little laptop / notebook may appear to have more umph that an Android device, but you will take a performance hit in driving things too high.

Overall, I found running Lumiya on an Asus PCee 1201N to be pretty acceptable – certainly a lot less tasking than running a full-blown viewer. I wouldn’t want to do it all the time, but as an alternative and occasional means of access, it’s more than acceptable. The UI, intended for touch screens, works well with mouse and pointer, and while there were occasional niggles (sometimes I had to swap back to using the on-screen movement keys via mouse, for example), my biggest issue came down to trying to use conventional SL keyboard shortcuts simply because I was sitting in front of a keyboard!

Whether this kind of approach would appeal or not is down to the individual – but as noted above, if you are looking for the occasional access to SL from a low-end laptop / notebook whilst on the go and either don’t want to fiddle with the small screen of and android device or would prefer not to use Bright Canopy, then this might be an option for you.

Addendum, June 3rd: While Bluestacks was promoted as a “free” emulator, some 36 hours after installing it, I received a notification requiring a subscription payment of either US 2.00 per month or to install sponsoring games in order to keep using it to access Android apps.

 

*Note: Bluestacks used to offer an emulator for Mac systems as well. It’s no longer available through their own website, but can be obtained from this review on the TechApple website. However, as I’m not a Mac user, I have no idea how up-to-date it is compared with the latest Windows version of the emulator or whether it is a viable option.

Lumiya on Bluestacks was tested using an Asus PCee 1201N with 2 Gb RAM, Intel Atom 330 processor and Nvidia Ion 2 GPU  using shared memory.