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Mircea Lobo

Second Life clients for Android phones / tablets

21 posts in this topic

I recently got a Samsung Galaxy S3 smartphone as an upgrade to my Galaxy S. Both devices support 3D rendering, and there are many 3D games and clients available on the Android Market (such as a lite version of MineCraft). The S3 especially (with its 1GB of RAM and quad-core CPU) should support some high quality 3D at acceptable frame rates.

Yet I can't find any client providing access to enough of SL's features to consider it usable. Yes, there are some which allow you to login and use the chat (even see the map), but none that let you see the 3D scene, yourself and other avatars, and support moving around. Not to mention in-world building, access to inventory, and wearables / avatar customization.


Only free one I found on the market is Mobile Grid Client, which like I said allows the user to see the chat and the world map only. There is however one which renders the world (and seems to work a lot like the PC client) called Lumiya Viewer (web page here). But not so surprisingly, there's only a paid version available, and I prefer free and open-source software for everything.

There are pretty much two options. First is someone writing an Android SL client from a scratch, which would be very difficult and take a lot of time to do (given all the features and systems SL has). The second and best option would be compiling the normal SL client for the Android platform and hardware. This is possible and many projects with simple ghaphics have done it. Best example is Rockstar Games having released an Android version of GTA3 two years ago, which I installed and it worked perfectly on my Galaxy S (on the S3 it should be even better). With simple changes for a touchscreen interface, compatible rendering and other functions, this should be possible to do with the normal Second Life client too.

Are there any plans to do such a thing, or even downloadable clients which can be used at this date?

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I haven't tried MGC, But I did try lumia. it's far from perfect as you said, but I haven't seen anything else. I would love to be able to go inworld from my Epic 4g touch. It should definately be doable. it's  just getting someone to do it.

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I am told the re-engineering the standard Second Life client for Android would be a major piece of work, as it would mean switching from the standard Intel based software to ARM-based and Second Life uses a lot of specific graphics features that would need working on.

The only other one available is, as you have sumised, Lumiya which has a basic (but a lot better than nothing) world view as an option.


If you don't want to pay for Lumiya there is another alternative, write one yourself - then maybe you'd understand why the Lumiya developer wanted to reclaim a bit of the time and effort that was spent producing it.

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I tried GTA 3 on my S3 as well today, sice it seemed relevant to this performance-wise. Works perfectly well... even faster than on the computer I had the day I first got GTA3 :) Also tried it out with the hacked settings file to enable effects (lights, flares, particles and such) and still get a perfect FPS. Here's a video I found of someone else trying it out on the S3:


Since SL doesn't neet any fancier graphics to run, I'm pretty sure anything as strong as Galaxy S1 could run it perfectly at low draw distance and with reduced object detail (likely most smartphone models can, but I don't know the resources of others). On mine I estimate I could set draw distance as far as 128 at least, and geometrical detail to medium.

For what Hitomi mentioned, that is useful to know. The renderer would probably need some remaking, and I don't know if Android can run original OpenGL code and the like. Only thing I know for sure is that it needs to be compiled to run on a different kind of processor, but that by itself simply means opening the source code and compiling for another platform. For each application this means changing different functions to be compatible more or less, or using alternatives for other libraries. No idea how much that is in the case of SL viewer.

BTW. There's also a neat little 2D open-source game called Hedgewars. It's available for Windows, Linux, and also Android. I have it on both my computer and phone, and all versions are exactly the same with the exception that the Android one has a touchscreen interface. Pretty sure they're both compiled from the same source code, but I haven't asked so I might be wrong.

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I think you are very optimisitic about the speed of a Second Life client running on Android if it was ported.  I run Lumiya (which is a cut-down subset of features and rendering) on my quad core Nexus 7 using wi-fi and  it is still slow even at minimum draw distance.  This will improve over the next few years and then direct streaming over 4G might be a better option getting around most of the problems.

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I've used the Mobile Client Grid for some time.  It's great for just text chatting.  The bad thing is the reoccurring costs.  The standard subscription is 250$L per month.  The pro/full version is 400$L per month.  The full version allows you to interact with inventory to do things like read note cards, send objects, etc.

 

The Lumiya app is interesting.  I just downloaded it and figured I'd play around with it for awhile.

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To me, Lumiya is most interesting for how much of the UI must be reengineered from the ground up in order to work sensibly with a touch interface on a physically small surface. It hints at one of the great UI tensions of our times: how similar should be (or can be) the UI designs for the same applications, delivered on different devices with different form factors, modes of interaction (direct touch, stylus vs cursor-driving mouse, trackpad), and occasions of use (mobile on-the-go vs desktop vs large-screen "lean back"). The design issues go way deeper than how to represent information, affecting what functionality to expose, in what order, and ideally even the behavior of the underlying application itself.

Getting enough of that passably correct, I think, is a longer-term challenge than the technical issues of graphics programming, bandwidth, and performance.

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yes, lumiya is a steal for the $3.00 fee, very nice, i would like to apologize for upgrade/update requests to the viewers creators, its much MUCH more than i should expect for the 1 time fee, and would love to promote/refer the viewer to all android users .... ty --Cybe

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'switching from the standard Intel based software'

I'm sorry, I know its very pedantic but it's not intel based its x86/64 based. It works just as well on AMD's processor architecture as well as Intel's. Furthermore, it is possible to emulate x86/64 specific commands on an ARM processor, however, this shouldn't even be an issue as cross compatability is easy, just look at Windows 8 (Works on ARM and x86/64)

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I'm loving Lumiya. Only thing I wish there was with it was rezzing stuff in world from inventory and opening items.

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I curently don't own any android running items myself but am in the market for a tablet and have been looking at the ASUS Transformer Infinity TF700T, and the ASUS Goggle Galixy Nexus 7.  Both of these items are powered by Nvidia's Tegra3 Quad core chip (Info on Tegra 3) which boats extreamly impressive graphical capability as well as. from what I've heard, easer tools to program things to run with it as it natively supports OpenGL as it's primary engine for rendering.. which is what SL uses and has bene using for ages (I think right from the start) so Mac users could connect to the grid.

I think, especialy with the way LL has been going with the V2 and V3 that it wouldn't be soooo fair streached a guess that they do want to do something with tablets and the like but have yet to get their and thus haven't said anything about it.

I mean the way the side panels are and their sizing looks very pre-set-up to me for transtioning or the workings of a touch interface friendly UI. Of course this is all me hypothosing and making guesses. That said.. it would be nice if they did something from their own home code so TVPs would have something more solid/fiture ritch to use as a base/core.

Especialy with talk of Tegra4 being likely twice or quadrupal the power of Teg3 and if Teg 3 from some of the tech shows I've seen can run games that look rather Gears of War esk in detale I can only fathom what Teg 4 and the hardware that gets developed around it will beable to support.

~Kisha

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I am sure it would not be too difficult to port the Linux viewer to Android (since android runs on the Linux kernel) and change some of the coding and UI to work with touch. If I knew anything about coding I would try my hand at it.

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Cubboboy wrote:

I am sure it would not be too difficult to port the Linux viewer to Android (since android runs on the Linux kernel) and change some of the coding and UI to work with touch. If I knew anything about coding I would try my hand at it.

From what I know the Android OS supports a cut-down version of OpenGL (which Second Life is based upon) but it does not include all the functions, especially a lot of the fancy stuff.  The biggest problem would be a UI for such devices - I have given quite a bit of thought to this and it would require a fair bit of work in some areas.

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I wish I could use a second life on android phones, and can play anywhere. but there is little worries, whether VGA android phones can run second life, I am afraid will be quickly broken android phones.

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The GPUs in Android phones implement OpenGL ES which is a subset of OpenGL. There are only a handful of different designs that are popular; the important ones are the Adreno in the Qualcomm chips, the NVidia Tegra 3 and 4, and whatever is in the Samsung Exynos processors (some use Power-VR GPUS, some use the ARM Mali). If we care about upcoming Intel-based Android devices then we also have to cater to the Intel GPUs in the Bay Trail and Haswell CPUs: same basic design but the Bay Trail has far fewer resources. Anything not on this list is going to be in a device that doesn't have enough resources (processor power and/or RAM) to run anything approaching a full viewer.

It's likely that a chopped-down rendering chain could be designed to cater to the capabilities and limitations of those devices, leaving out a lot of the code in the renderer in the standard viewer. It won't need as many special cases to handle a large variety of graphics hardware and it can leave out high end features like shadow rendering that no present phone will be able to handle.

Next challenge: making a UI that will work on a tablet. Simudyne has a viewer designed for Windows 8 tablets; I haven't had the opportunity to try it but I know they have put some thought into the tablet UI.

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I have a fantastic app for my Galaxy it is called Lumiya, this app allows you to do everything. Best app ever. Try it, you can even jump on dance balls see your avi etc.

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I thought that since the viewer is Open Source, alll clients should then be Open Source or am I misunderstanding the Open Source rules?

The folks who developed Firestorm which used to be Phoenix not only made a great viewer, many of their changes ended up in the official SL viewer. That is the purpose of Open Source no?

SL itself is free to use, so why should a client be able to charge for use unless they offer something else above and beyond what you would normally get. OK maybe charge an upfront 99 cents so that tey can recoup their $25.00 for becoming an android app writer but not a recurring charge for use.

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Shivany Lane wrote:

I thought that since the viewer is Open Source, alll clients should then be Open Source or am I misunderstanding the Open Source rules?

 

You are allowed to incorporate the SL open source code into a a proprietary product offering if you apply to LL for the correct license.  See this wiki page under the heading Commercial.

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You just answered this yourself, meeting your own definition.

 

An Android client IS something above and beyond what you normally get from LL's supplied open source code!

 

Second part of the answer is way, they can charge a recurring fee because they can and people pay. Supply and demand. Want to change that? Write a better version and give it away free if it would make you feel better but complaining because someone seeks compensation for their effort seems odd to me.

 

I use combinations of Mobile Grid Client pro, Lumiya and Splashtop for my mobile times. None of which are free and I'm quite happy.

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