Wednesday, 17 October 2012

OnLive Desktop App for Android Updated to Version 1.1.1 to Support the Google Nexus 7 and other 7" Android Tablets and Higher - OnLive Desktop App for iPad Updated to Version 1.02 Which Comes with Network Connectivity and Performance Improvements


The last time that the OnLive Desktop service was in the news was because of Windows 7 licensing troubles with Microsoft and the subsequent move to Windows Server 2008 R2. Now the news is again cheerful as OnLive has updated the OnLive Desktop App for Android to version 1.1.1, which now supports the Google Nexus 7 tablet and other 7" Android tablets and higher.

The update of the OnLive Desktop App for iPad was of the minor sort as it was updated to version 1.02. OnLive states that network connectivity and performance were improved. Though being minor, such updates are very important for the gradual improvement of the App and that users see that OnLive still cares for OnLive Desktop.

OnLive posted on Facebook "OnLive Desktop now supports the Google/Asus Nexus 7 tablet! Tablets with 7" screen or larger should work too, let us know if yours doesn't by visiting support.onlive.com and clicking Ask a Question." They've also tweeted this.

John Speck, software engineering director at OnLive, posted this message at OnLive Fans:

Hi guys,

John Speck here... I work at OnLive. First post for me here, you're welcome to confirm my identity with Nate who remains your primary cruise director. Please continue to use Nate as my presence here on the forums will be very sporadic.

Wanted to just give you a little detail about the Android Desktop update that I did:

We've got a bunch of low hanging fruit at OnLive that I've been looking in to addressing. One of the items on the list is to look at our mobile offerings, review the feedback, and make some changes to try to improve our products. With that in mind I noticed that we were limiting the Android Desktop app to "XLargeScreens." If you want to read about what that means, check out this link: developer.android.com/guide/practices/screens_support.html.

I read some comments from users of that product that asked to have the Desktop app available on Nexus 7. The really cool thing about modern mobile development is how fast you can iterate on stuff. It turned out that the quick change to support Nexus 7 was to simply set a flag to true in the metadata. So, I checked out the APK, updated the metadata, checked in to SVN, tested it and then uploaded it to the app store... and boom! Users found it very quickly and the Nexus 7 is now becoming one of our top installed devices. Pretty satisfying for me. Actually, there is a detail you guys caught... the first 1.1.1 was built from a different code branch and not from the appropriate release branch which meant I actually violated my software release process rule. I rebuilt from the correct branch and uploaded that one. Hence the second update that was functionally identical.

Anyways, going forward, I will continue to look for wins like that on all of our products, games, desktop, and so getting excellent feedback like the post above by Turkey62 is awesome. I welcome any feedback you want to give on any part of the service (but please also make sure to send it to Nate!)

And in case anyone wants a snapshot of my bio: I'm primarily a software guy (although I haven't written real code in ages) and I also do some product design. I've worked at both B2B companies and game places in the past. My pride and joy was one of the first Mac MMOs (you've never heard of it.) I've been with OnLive since before it was OnLive, about 8 years or so. What I run at OnLive has changed through the years, but mostly I've always owned the software releases so pretty much everything you guys love or hate about OnLive was at least in some small way my fault.

Thanks,
John Speck

OnLive senior manager of customer relations Nathan Barsetti replied at OnLive Fans, "I have no idea who this is... Totally kidding. Speck is a core figure here at OnLive, and incidentally was one of the people responsible for interviewing me a couple years back. His expertise across all the teams makes him an excellent source of information. As you can see, he is totally in support of our effort to pull back the curtain for you all. I'm trying to get a more diverse set of people to chime in on these boards to give you guys an even greater perspective in how we operate and what we are looking ahead to. Please give him a warm welcome and try not to tear him apart too quickly! I think you'd find that would be a tough prospect anyway."

Looks like this time OnLive is doing what their fans want from them, as now apart from Nathan Barsetti even other important people from OnLive share some insights on what's happening at the company that pioneered cloud gaming. The old pre-bankruptcy OnLive was notorious for their secrecy, so this opening up feels like a breath of fresh air.

Interestingly John Speck is listed as co-inventor of several patents of OnLive founder and former CEO Steve Perlman, like US Patent 7,633,994 named "System and method for distributed input-distributed output wireless communications", US Patent 7,567,293 named "System and method for performing motion capture by strobing a fluorescent lamp", US Patent 8,194,093 called "Apparatus and method for capturing the expression of a performer" and other interesting patents. Looks like John Speck was, and maybe still is, heavily involved with other Rearden projects of Steve Perlman besides OnLive, like DIDO Wireless Technology and Mova.


Coming back to OnLive Desktop, for obvious reasons the OnLive Desktop App for iPad doesn't need a screen size update. John Speck posted this at OnLive Fans:

Overall, I am trying to schedule incremental improvements for the quality of streaming experience, both video quality and latency reductions.

In terms of "automatic" video quality on Android devices is one of the trickiest areas for me to address technically because the hardware specs of the Android devices are all over the map. In general, the better the video quality, the more CPU power you need on those devices to be able to keep up with the decode. Apple is much better bang for the buck because they have a standard platform with mostly only generational variations. It's also way easier for me to understand the screen magnification effect on iPad because of standard device sizes.

In terms of "manually" being able to override so that power users can experiment, I will try to get the same capabilities for the bandwidth quality selection out to the Android devices that are on the iPad app.

In general, I am exploring making more things configurable for the power users in all our clients. However, don't construe this as a promise... like I said I'm looking for quick things to fix/improve.

Looks like OnLive wants to work on the video quality and enable maual bandwidth quality selection for the OnLive Desktop App for Android, but because the iPad has powerful hardware as a standard, matching the picture quality of the OnLive Desktop App for iPad on the Android side won't be easy and will depend on the power of the various Android tablets.

Above I write that the OnLive Desktop App for iPad doesn't need a screen size update, this may be true for now, but this will change shortly as Apple will introduce an iPad mini on October 23rd.



You can read more about OnLive Desktop.

You can give the free OnLive Desktop App for Android and the free OnLive Desktop App for iPad a try.

You can sign up for free to use OnLive Desktop or sign up for $4.99/month to use OnLive Desktop Plus.

You can also sign in to OnLive Desktop with your OnLive game service account.

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