Home > iPhone, Software, Uncategorized > iComic v1.0: Anyone for manga on the iPhone?

iComic v1.0: Anyone for manga on the iPhone?

December 7, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments
iComic v1.0 on my iPhone

iComic v1.0 on my iPhone

With the popularity of manga, I thought there’d be tons of manga apps out there, but there isn’t. After searching for quite a while, I finally came across iComic v1.0 at the iTunes App Store by Y. Yamamoto. I guess this app originally was loadable (and probably still is) if you were working on a jailbroken iPhone. I’m not, so I downloaded the app for 99 cents. While the app is pretty simple to use, the English documentation is somewhat lacking, so I thought I’d provide an in-depth review.

iComic works the same way that most computer manga readers work, being able to extract image files from Zip files on the fly. While jpeg files do not compress much further when you zip them, the archive provides a nice container for downloading to the iPhone… one file vs. a couple hundred.

How it loads the files is quite interesting, you just download the zip files from the internet. If you already have a collection of scanned manga, then you just have to set up your own webserver.

iComic Opening Menu

iComic Index Menu

The image above is what you see when you first open up iComic [my menus are in Japanese, due to my language settings. Menus are available in English as well]. Here we have the controls:

  • Edit (Left button – 編集)
  • Settings (Right button – 設定)
  • Manga list, with “next” buttons (those arrows)

Clicking on the edit button lets you delete manga files or download.

iComic Edit Menu (編集)

iComic Edit Menu (編集)

Touching those “minus” buttons will bring up the Delete button on the right side. Click the Delete button and all your manga are belong to us. Did you notice that while in the Edit menu, that right button changed? Yep, it changed to 追加(ツイカ、tsuika) or Add in English.

iComic Add Menu (追加)

iComic Add Menu (追加)

Clicking on the Add button, brings up the… you guessed it, the manga download menu. To add your precious manga zip file, just tap on that text block and add your website, for example http://somemanga.com/coolmanga.zip. Then you just click on the Get Zip button, and it’ll download the file. You’ll know it’s working away when you see the circle loader icon. That Yotsuba& file you see is about 26mb. It took less than a minute to download via wifi on my local network (I just downloaded it from my laptop). The documentation says that you should be able to download up to an 80mb file, although it was not tested at the time.

So once you have your manga file, you can interact with it on the main menu. Clicking on the file name will bring up this menu.

iComic Read Menu

iComic Read Menu

The top button will open your manga from the begining (I should say first file in the zip archive). The second button will open from the last page you viewed (shiori kara for you Japanese speaking folk). Oh, if your bus hit a speed bump and you clicked the wrong file name… the bottom button says cancel.

Are you one of those people that like to skip around? The author thought of you too. Just swip your finger on that > arrow, and you’ll get a file listing of all the jpegs in the zip file. Just click on the image of your choice, and it’ll bring the page up in the viewer. That blue file name the last page I visited.

iComic Zip File Viewer

iComic Zip File Viewer

Ok, so now that we’ve gone through the boring stuff, let’s check out some manga! Clicking on the file name and then open from the beginning (top button) brings me to the cover page of my manga.

iComic Manga Cover

iComic Manga Cover

I’ve been reading this manga called Yotsubato! (Yotsuba&!), a funny comic about a strange little girl with green hair that just moved into the city from the boondocks. I find it quite entertaining, and the Japanese is pretty elementary (all the kanji have furigana) which makes it a good starting manga for you Japanese learners. [BTW, I own this manga]

The controls are quite easy:

  • One tap: navigates one page forward
  • Two taps: navigates one page backward
  • Three taps: Returns you to the index (the main file listing page)
  • Pinch-out: Zooms in (just like the photo viewer)
  • Pinch-in: Zooms back out to full screen view

Here you see me tapping in quite a few pages, so you can see an inside page.

iComic Navigation

iComic Navigation

As you can see, the text is quite small, so if this was a more complicated manga, we’d want to zoom in to read what the characters are saying. Just pinch out, and you can read the text.

iComic Zoom-in View

iComic Zoom-in View

So here I’ve zoomed in all the way. Once you’re zoomed in, just tap (hold) and drag your finger to read the other frames. If you tap to the next page while zoomed, you’ll stay zoomed in (with the default setting), but for some reason you start at the top-left corner… a manga page reads from the right-top so this is a small bug that’ll have to be fixed in a later release [When working with the software today, I did not display this issue].

So reading manga is a breeze. Let’s check out the setting page next, just click on the button at the right-top of the index page.

iComic Settings Page

iComic Settings Page

Currently there are three settings. The first one says “Move to the top of the next page.” So you’re reading your manga… zoomed in. When you flip the page (one-tap) you’ll go to the top of the next page. However, like I wrote previously, you go to the top-left, instead of the top-right. [Bug not reproducible during normal viewing]

The middle setting says “Preserve Magnification.” If you turn this off, when you’re zoomed in, and flip pages, it’ll show you the next page at full screen.

Finally, the last setting controls the page opening, “View left opening.” Japanese books open from the left to right, so basically leave it on if you’re reading a “normal”Japanese manga. Those English ones are different, you’ll want to turn this setting off, to navigate right to left.

Although I’ve only played around with iComic for less than a day. I think it’s pretty good so far. I haven’t noticed any major problems yet. Page images load fast, and navigate smoothly. As I use this software more, I’ll be interested in seeing how stable it is. It’ll be nice to pop open a manga when I want to read something on the go; I’m definately looking forward to my bus ride to work tomorrow. For 99 cents, it’s definately a worthwhile purchase. Check it out at the iTunes App store.

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