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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Second Life Lite

In these days of tablets and smartphones, a question we see more and more often in the Second Life Answers forum is "Can I use SL with my [insert name of device here]?"

In the old days, a couple of years ago, the answer was pretty clear cut:  No.  And it's still true today that Second Life is an application that can challenge even "gaming ready" desktop PCs.  Nevertheless, you do have some options now for getting in world even when you're out and about and away from your computer.  So, let's proceed to [insert some devices here]!

Chromebooks:  Nope.  No way.  Sorry.  You can forget about SL on any current Netbook-type machine, too.  They don't have the processing or graphics chops needed for SL.

Windows phones, Surface tablets.  See "chromebooks" above.  Although I've heard rumors that the Surface Pro can run a regular SL viewer, I have no documented proof and would, frankly, be surprised if it worked.  If you, dear reader, have a Surface Pro, give it a try and let me know how it goes.

iPad, iPhone:  You can use the app Pocket Metaverse.  This is a "text only" application.  It has no graphics, but you can IM your friends, teleport to landmarks, and use local chat.  You can see a map showing your current location.

Android devices:  Your smartphone or Android tablet offers the greatest variety of SL applications.  There are three that I know of.

Mobile Grid Client  This is a lot like Pocket Metaverse.  It's text only, plus a map.  The app itself is free, but to use it you must pay a modest monthly or annual subscription fee.  This fee is payable in $L from your Second Life account.

Lumiya  This is currently my favorite "lite" viewer.  Unlike Pocket Metaverse and Mobile Grid Client, Lumiya has a graphic display capability.  You can see your avatar, and the world around you just like you can with the main SL viewer.  You can walk or fly.  You can teleport, and you can change clothes, and share inventory items.  You can interact with the world...sit on things, open doors, pay vendors in a store.  There are no building functions, and the viewer is very clunky compared to a "real" viewer, but aside from that, Lumiya lets you do pretty much everything you usually do in SL...on your smartphone!  There is a small fee to purchase the app, but no ongoing subscription, and the viewer is frequently updated with fixes and new features.

SLGo  SLGo is currently offered in a beta version, for Android only, although they've said that there are plans to offer a iOS version.  It's offered by On Live, and while the app is free, there is a $9.95 monthly subscription fee.  The graphics capability of this lite viewer is astoundingly good, and it's best used on a tablet...the bigger the better.

I'll just close by reminding you that ALL of these mobile options are a poor second to using a "real" viewer on a "real" computer with a screaming fast late model graphics card and a fast fiber optic or cable internet connection.  But at least you DO have some options, and for those of us who really need our daily SL fix, that's good news.

Oh...and don't SLite while driving!

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