Voice is moving from the Beta Grid to the Live Grid! The Voice First Look Viewer is now available for download to use against the Live Grid. A “First Look” viewer is a publicly available test version of the SL Viewer, designed to enable testing of new client-side features by Residents. (Read more about the First Look Viewers here). The Voice First Look Viewer is optional, and we encourage you to download it from the First Look page.
We plan to run the Voice First Look Viewer on the Live Grid for a month or two, and will incorporate your feedback and develop iteratively during that time. We expect voice to be a standard feature of the Second Life Viewer at the end of this process.
We describe the key features and functionality of voice in the remainder of this blog post, but more detailed information on voice is also available in a voice article and FAQ in the Knowledge Base of our customer support portal
Please note that voice is OFF by default when you download the Voice First Look Viewer. To turn voice ON, go to Edit > Preferences > Voice Chat and check the “Enable Voice” box. In addition, please be aware that Push-to-Talk is on by default.
To turn your voice microphone on, press the “Talk” button on the Voice tab in the right bottom corner of the Viewer. To “lock” your mic on, press the lock icon button. Please note that voice must be enabled in order for the Voice tab to appear. If you don’t see it, make sure voice is enabled in Edit > Preferences > Voice Chat.
Proximity-Based and Group Voice Chat
The purpose of the Voice First Look Viewer is to introduce Residents to both “proximity-based” and “group chat” voice usage on the Live Grid. “Proximity-based” voice usage is based on and altered by changes in physical in-world proximity, in which you hear speakers more loudly when your avatar is closer to them. “Group” voice chat enables you to speak with other Second Life Residents no matter where they are on the Grid.
Three types of voice chat are available in the Voice First Look Viewer:
- Proximity-Based Voice Chat – allows you to voice chat with nearby avatars
- Group Voice Chat – allows you to voice chat with others members of your Second Life groups or groups of your friends no matter where they are in-world
- One-to-One Voice Chat – allows you to voice chat with one and only one other person no matter where they are in-world
You can initiate all three kinds of chat by using the “Communicate” button in the bottom left corner of the viewer. Clicking on this button opens a new chat tool called the ChatterBox, a unified interface for both voice and text chat. To clarify, you do not need to be in a voice-enabled region to take part in one-to-one and group voice chat.
Voice on the Main Land and Private Regions
Voice will be rolled out to the mainland in the same order in which mainland regions have come online as SL has grown. This map shows which regions are voice enabled and which are not, and is updated daily. Land owners in these regions will be able to determine whether or not voice is enabled on their land.
What You Need to Use Voice
In order to use the Voice First Look Viewer, you will need a set of stereo headphones with a microphone (preferably digital USB headphones). Make sure your headphones are selected as the input and output device on your computer (otherwise, you will cause feedback into Second Life).
Please make sure you have a set of stereo headphones with a microphone that works well on your computer. We have tested many brands and most work well, but you may have better results with digital USB models like those from Plantronics and Logitech.
We have tested several headsets which work well with Second Life, which are available for purchase here.
The voice development team sincerely thanks the thousands of Residents who have tested many iterations of voice on the Beta Grid. To date, nearly 14,000 Voice Beta testers have helped to refine interactions and interface elements, reported and helped to fix bugs, created voice gestures, and more.
We remember especially Resident Jesse Malthus, who was deeply involved on the voice beta test before he passed away earlier this year. He has helped our development work and we miss hearing his voice.
Please report any bugs, problems, or observations by using the new “Voice (First Look)” component in the Second Life Viewer Section of the Issue Tracker. We’re very interested in your feedback. We also plan on holding in-world feedback meetings, please watch this Blog for more information.
Where did the WindLight First Look Go?
The WindLight First Look Viewer has been available for a few weeks now, and many of you have downloaded it and provided us with feedback. We’ve put your feedback together and are now going heads down on the next iteration of development for WindLight. After today’s Voice First Look release, the WindLight First Look viewer will no longer be compatible with the Main Grid. Watch this blog for more information on the next exciting steps for the WindLight viewer!
There are a few Known Issues with the Voice First Look that was released today, which we’d like to make you aware of.
First, there are a few known issues with one-to-one voice calls. One-to-one voice calls can be made via Communicate > My Friends > Friends tab, selecting one individual’s name, clicking “IM/Call”, and then clicking the “Call” button in the tab bearing your friend’s name.
Starting one-to-one voice calls is not consistently successful, and occasionally fails silently. This is a sporadic error and does not always occur. If this failure does happen to you, you may not be able to rejoin the spatial channel (which really means, “return to the voice conversation you may have been having with nearby avatars). Sometimes, the only way around this is to log in to the client again. We are very sorry for this inconvenience.
There are also some known issues around the invitations that are sent for one-to-one voice calls. Starting a one-to-one voice conversation should immediately send an invitation (from “Resi A”) to the intended recipient (“Resi B”). We’ve noticed, however, that intended recipients do not consistently receive invitations to one-to-one voice calls as they should. In addition, if Resi B attempts to begin a one-to-one voice chat with Resi A, the initial invitation from Resi A will appear, and Resi A will also see an invitation from Resi B. Invitations may “stack up” between two users after this point, without ever picking up a voice channel. This will be fixed in a forthcoming First Look update.
There is also a known issue with group chat. The first time you attempt to start or join a group chat, it may fail. You should not have any issues on the second attempt, so we encourage you to make one.
Finally, there is a known issue with voice settings for parcel owners. When parcel owners change Voice Settings to “Disable spatial audio on this parcel” (in About Land > Media), voice actually remains enabled for the parcel owner and anyone else on the parcel. When the owner leaves the parcel and re-enters it, voice is disabled.
Work around: Until these issues are fixed, we have a workaround available for creating a one-to-one voice call. In “Calling Cards”, you can select the name of the person you wish to call and select followed by “Start Conference”. This creates an ad-hoc “group conference” for two people, rather than a true one-to-one conference, but it at least enables one-to-one call functionality.
Thanks again for your participation, patience and enthusiasm while we work to make Second Life even better!