Comic Reader Mobi

Since I finished Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle a few weeks ago, I decided to move on to one other “series” I’ve been hearing people talk about. It’s an ongoing [comic book] series called Fables and I was able to get a bunch of CBR files of 80+ issues.

Anyways, that’s not the point of this post. The point is that I bought this app 1 To be able to read said CBR files from the iTunes store which I was really skeptical about, but apparently it works flawlessly that I cannot help but blog about it.

As the title suggests, the app is called Comic Reader Mobi. Just like any comic book archive reader, it allows you to read your standard CBR, CBZ, RAR and ZIP comic book packages. But what’s interesting is how it implements its zoom functionality.

If you visit the link, and try the simulator on the left, you’ll know what I’m talking about; its zoom algorithm is smart enough to detect the dialog boxes in the panels, snap to, and only magnify those areas relative to the screen size (in this case, the iPhone)

At first I really thought the whole thing was rigged. For one, the software was $15 – which is very expensive for an iPhone app. Next is the website; Comic Sans as the font, the whole design/layout quite frankly, sucks. Then if you would watch the YouTube video, you can see the GUI itself isn’t really up to scratch as far as Apple application design goes. Then of course that simulation could be easily rigged since it’s just showing one image anyways.

All in all, at first glance, you’d really think this was a hoax… but I took a chance and purchased it, synced the Fables series I intended to read, and was pleasantly surprised that it did work as advertised!

Their approach of zooming only the text is phenomenal as far as reading comic books on mobile devices goes. Most of the time, even with small screens, your eyes can process the pages’ contents without having to zoom in and out (and/or slide/drag the whole page around). But it is true that text is unreadable when viewed at such resolutions… and I’m guessing that’s what they focused on; being able to zoom into the text without necessarily zooming the whole page – and by God, it works so well!

The only drawbacks I see in this app are it’s price and the design of its user interface. I’ve posted a review on the iTunes store, so I thought I’d just post it here instead of repeating my issues:

This application is a bit pricey for what it does, but I do have to admit the implementation of your zoom algorithm is perfect for mobile devices. Which is why I’m still giving it the highest mark I can. And yes, I have purchased it because I’m utterly impressed with the zoom approach you did.

There’s one other area where you can GREATLY improve on though (apart from the price) and that’s the reason the highest I could give is 4 stars. I take issue with the little details on the UI.

The bare view (viewing comic panels) is good/fine, but when you see the other stuff like the bottom navigation controls, the splash screen, the settings panel, etc. They look horrendous! Upon looking at the choice of colors, fonts, icons, element spacing in the different dialogs, the transitions between pages when swiping, etc. one can’t help but compare the work to something that a windows/linux developer would make: All function, no form.

I know it may be nitpicking at this point, but try focusing on the little details and you’ll be surprised how much better your app could be. You have to understand what makes a good app good is not only the genius of the programming, but also the user experience – and the interface contributes to that experience A LOT. You should know this especially since you’re also in the iPhone market space. Just like with all things Apple, design is just as important as what’s under the hood.

A quick fix that can solve this issue is to hire a designer (who’s used to the Apple discipline of creating user interfaces) to do the visuals.

Again, I hope you don’t see this as an insult, but genuine constructive criticism. I don’t regret paying $15 for a fine piece of software, but I think that also entitles me to some expectations out of the developer I’ve just supported with my cash. The bottom-line is that while this application works well, it is far from elegant, and much can be improved given what you charge for it.

Notes   [ + ]

1. To be able to read said CBR files

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