While Magic Leap has remained mostly silent regarding its plans for its Magic Leap One successor, the software team continues to makes strides with improvements to the device's Lumin OS and SDK.
In version 0.97 of Lumin OS, arguably the biggest change is the graduation of Map Merge, the cloud-based protocol for multiplayer support on Magic Leap One, to public beta, making experiences like the multiplayer mode on Dr. Grordbort's Invaders possible.
The full rollout will start before July 31, but the feature is available now to any developer who has purchased the Professional Developer package.
"On 0.97, we can support a multiplayer game taking place over several floors within a medium-sized space (1,500 square feet or so)," said Yannick Pellet, SVP of software at Magic Leap, in a blog post. "It's also possible to develop an app for 5-10 users, with 4-5 people in the same room and 10 people in other areas of the same building. The device will work outside of these parameters, but these criteria will provide the best experience."
Speaking of multiplayer, the update also expands Avatar Chat, Magic Leap's virtual presence audio chat app, with support six-person calls. In addition, Avatar Chat gains a dark mode for its browser and support for landscape shortcut creation, which brings bookmarks into the user's physical space.
In addition, Lumin 0.97 adds a new Direct Rendering API, which enables support for multi-app scenarios for WebXR applications and 3D content rendering via WebGL.
The Lumin team has also continued to improve upon the hand-tracking capabilities of Magic Leap One. After bringing full skeleton hand tracking to version 0.96 of Lumin, the team has added access to a hand mesh via API. This makes it possible for occlusion of a user's hands as well as spatial understanding.
"Not only do your hands occlude the scene in front of you, but they can be used just like any other surface. Imagine holding a bug, a cat, or a creature in your hands – now it's possible," said Pellet.
One of the more mysterious updates to Lumin comes by way of a new app called Overture. According to release documentation, this app works in landscape mode and gives third-party apps control over a background music service. Taking the form of an iTunes-style mini-player, the app lets users play, pause, and skip tracks, and raise or lower the volume. The music app, which currently appears in the Magic Leap World app store, doesn't appear to do anything just yet, but let's see what developers come up with.
Since launching its Creator Portal in 2018, Magic Leap has prioritized the process of cultivating its developer community, with efforts including the first LEAP Conference, livestream reveals on Twitch, developer grants, and hackathons.
"Magic Leap's philosophy has always been to reach out to more developers, whatever their origin or interests," said Pellet. "I believe whole-heartedly that the future of our ecosystem depends on internationalization and the ability to bring together developers with a range of interests, skills, and most importantly, imagination."
As part of that effort, the Lumin OS 0.97 update also supports internationalization and localization for British English, French, and German.
The constant and consistent iterations of Magic Leap One's OS and SDK not only underscore Pellet's sentiments, these moves also buy Magic Leap more time as it figures out its next steps on the hardware side.