Ok, so a few app developers have stopped by my earlier post on the iPhone and digital comics, and Sherm over at iphonecomicbookreader.com has had a few visit him as well, so in light of that (and Sherm’s most recent post, in which he lays out how he’s using DataCase in the same manner I talked about using Files, Caravan, et al), I thought I’d collect my thoughts on what I’d like to see in an iPhone app in order to support reading digital comics. They’re below the break.
I happened across this blog today - the first post is an attempt to use the built-in facilities of the iPhone to read comics, which unsurprisingly doesn’t go that well. The second post is interesting, though - it links to an app called the iPhone Manga Converter, which will take comic book images, optimize ‘em for the iPhone, and wrap them in HTML for you to upload to some web storage. The resulting pages seem to be fairly decent, but the lack of offline capability is still a dealbreaker for me. Nonetheless, a blog focused on the iPhone as comic reader and an app designed to enable that are both worthwhile things to mention.
So, I have an iPhone. And I want to read digital comics on it. Back with my iPod Touch, I tried unzipping a .cbz file, importing the images into iPhoto, and then syncing them to the Touch. The result was intriguing - scrolling, zooming, switching between pages, etc were fairly decent, but iTunes decided to “optimize” the jpegs before kicking them to the iPhone. This results in more-or-less unreadable lettering. There’ve been a couple jailbreak digital comic reader apps, but since I don’t want to jailbreak, they’re not really an option for me.
Converting to PDF seems like a potential solution. With a vanilla iPhone or Touch, you can’t just put files onto it as if it were an external drive - so while there’s a PDF viewer hidden away in the internals (used by Mail and Safari), there’s no way to get PDFs onto the iPhone. But with the advent of the App Store, there are a number of third party apps which well kinda-sorta turn your iPhone/Touch into a drive. Sorta. They also have “viewers” built-in for images, PDFs, text files, HTML, and (generally) Office docs. All the ones I’ve found so far are using the built-in PDF viewer, for example. From some poking around on the webpages of the various apps, I get the impression that some of them may use their own image viewer code, but I’m getting the impression that most of them again just use the built-in image viewer. Weirdly, they do tend to use their own HTML viewers, though. I could be wrong, but I have a feeling Safari isn’t accessible for third-party apps for some reason.
Take a look below the fold for my quick-and-dirty reviews of three of these apps, both for digital comic reading specifically and in general usage, as well as my thoughts on two more expensive apps of this type.