Introducing iComics!

 It’s the final day of my holidays today, and I’ve been silently beavering away on a little project of mine. As with all of my projects, I usually keep them absolutely off the internet until I’ve proven that they actually are viable, and I’m not just blowing smoke. XD

One of my reasons (if not, the main reason) for me buying an iPad was so that I would be able to read digital copies of my books, without needing to lug around their paper counterparts. In terms of being able to read eBooks as ePubs or PDFs, my iPad experience has been perfected thanks to the collective efforts of iBooks and GoodReader.

Unfortunately, up until now, when it comes to reading digital comic books on iPad, while there’s a nice selection of third-party comic readers available, for many varying reasons, I haven’t found one that I’ve been truly content with. Whether it be the way page turning is handled, or even getting the comics onto the device, I haven’t found one I’m happy to stick with.

So with that in mind, I would like to announce my next iOS app project, and I’m calling it iComics. :D

As you can probably guess, iComics will be an app for all iPhones, iPads and iPod touches running iOS 5 to allow you to transfer your personal comic book collection to your device, and then read them on the fly.

In regards to the features that the current comic readers provide, there are a few areas that I would like to improve with iComics

  • Available formats – Support for the CBZ, CBR, CB7 comic book formats, with additional support for comics in PDF form, or simply uncompressed.
  • More transfer methods – In terms of getting user data onto an iOS device from a PC, I don’t think any app does it better than GoodReader. At the very least, I intend iComics to support built-in USB, WiFi, direct URL and Dropbox support built directly into it.
  • Minimal pre-loading – Every comic book reader I’ve tried so far has required that newly imported comics be ‘pre-loaded’, taking a noticeable amount of time (and in some cases, even locking the user out of the app while it’s happening).
  • Standardised page-turning – Every comic book reader I’ve tried thus far has tried rolling its own set of gestures or methods for traversing the pages in the comic. In a lot of instances, I’ve found going into these apps with the assumptions we’ve been raised upon with Apple’s UI standards always results in quite a bit of initial confusion. While I was briefly considering using the new UIPageViewController feature of iOS 5, I’ve decided to keep it simple, and set it up exactly like the default Photos app with the ability to swipe between pages.
  • Thumbnails – I’ve yet to see a comic reader app that provides preview thumbnails of all of the pages to allow easy jumping between pages. There might be a good reason for this, but I plan to check it out anyway. :)
  • Universal support – This might have changed, but last I checked, I couldn’t find a Universal comic reader app. It was either iPad-exclusive, or the iPhone version was a completely separate paid app.

At the moment, iComics is still very much in its infancy, but I’ve managed to prove that the concept is stable, and it is possible to get a very smooth UI experience on devices as old as iPad generation 1 (…barely XD) with comic pages of resolutions higher than 2000 pixels. :)

But that being said, it’s a long way from being finished. On a technical scale, this thing is going to be significantly more complex than iPokédex ever would be and even getting this far has proven to be quite a challenge. ^_^;

In any case, I’m looking forward to the challenge. And now that I’ve reached the point I can talk about it freely online, I plan to document anything cool I discover on my blog. :)

Let me know what you think!

UPDATE (October 2012): Well! 8 months after this blog post, iComics is on the App Store! I’ll write a full article about it soon, but for now, go check it out!