Second Life: Android and iOS? What is the Lab thinking?

Seems many are excited about Brad & Oz Linden making comments about development of an app for iOS and probably Android. Inara has been writing about it at Modem World. And Hamlet picked up on that posting LINDEN LAB CONFIRMS.

Late 2018 – Firestorm-Steam VR

Hamlet adds a bit of speculation. But, Inara makes the most speculative guesses about what the Lab is doing. She is knowledgeable and her guesses are those of a person well informed on and experienced in the subjects of Second Life and Linden Lab. I think they are reasonable.

I’ll add an additional twist. Consider. The people using and requesting mobile apps for SL are existing users. The current mobile apps provide a means for existing SL users to manage business tasks while on the move.

Would a new mobile app for Android and iOS be any different? Maybe…

If you have ever noticed some avatars hanging around time after time in the same place and just standing there day after day, you are probably seeing mobile users. Mobile devices have not had the power to render a 3D world well enough for people to navigate SL. Lumiya (Android) does an OK job. So, most of these stationary avatars are chatting or dealing with inventory and marketplace tasks from a mobile device not exploring or playing in Second Life.

However, desktop gaming is losing users to mobile gaming. The pressure is on mobile developers and software engineers to improve device performance for gaming. Free market competition is accelerating the demand for better devices and 3D rendering. We saw the same development process in desktop hardware and software driven by gaming.

To stand out in the mobile gaming market developers are striving for better visuals.

I am not sure the Lab would spend the time and effort just to build a support app for such a small subset of existing users. There are projects that far more users are requesting of them. Seems those would be the priorities unless there is more to it.

The state of mobile SL apps does not provide attractive access to SL and is unlikely to draw in new users. I do not see existing apps or a new similar app as a promotional tool for drawing new users. So, if there is no promotional advantage and the existing base of users is too small, why?

Also, the nature of the Lab is to never suggest any project/feature they are unsure they can provide. Obviously, a support app is possible. People have done it before. That is all the Lindens are currently talking about. But… really, just that? I suspect it is the first step in a larger project they aren’t talking about… other than some vague comments here and there about what they are thinking and may explore.

I think it was Oz Linden recently talking about the Lab not providing a streaming service like Bright Canopy as they think it is too expensive and would have too few users. Meaning a it would be a net loss for the Lab to do. So, that isn’t going to happen. But streaming cost is coming down. At some point the Lindens think it may become economically feasible and if it does… maybe.

Also, there is now another open source version of Firestorm that does VR. Hamlet was writing about that in his article, Virtual Reality Version Of Second Life For Firestorm & Steam VR. That article pointed me to the video I used here.

Add to that the Lab’s move to the cloud. Basic free market economics drives down the cost as a tech is adopted by the masses and when purchased in quantity. We have seen this with large UHD TV’s. What once cost US$70,000 is now well under $5k. With all the cloud servers the Lab is going to be leasing it seems reasonable to think they may look at a cloud-based render engine that streams SL to mobile devices.

With high end machines to do the render and stream it to a mobile device… would the Lab pursue VR again? Could they increase the subscriber base for streaming if they offered VR as a streamed service for desktop and mobile? With my Gear VR I might just go for it. How much more would I pay to have streamed VR added to my Premium account? …I’m thinking…

I doubt there will be any confirmation of my speculations. But, I think this is great fun food for the rumor mill.

One thought on “Second Life: Android and iOS? What is the Lab thinking?

  1. For context on LL / SL / Mobile (+ streaming solutions), please also refer to:

    – which is the “break news” piece (courtesy of Whirly Fizzle) on the subject, and also adds commentary from Ebbe, Oz & Grumpity on the matter (from 2018).

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