While most people are caught up in the hype of movie panels in Hall H and TV panels in and around Ballroom 20, many may just forget that Comic-Con’s roots are in the ever popular comic book. But Google hasn’t, and it’s created a new reader for mobile devices that makes it easier to read them on a small screen.
“Last year, Google Play made it easier to find and read your favorite comics on your phone or tablet, including a new vertical scrolling experience. We wanted to use our superpowers, like machine learning, to improve the digital comics experience even further. Machine learning is the technology that makes the digital things in your life more useful, like finding the right image in Google Photos by searching for “hugs” to “dogs.” So what happens when we bring our machine learning capabilities to the world of comics? At San Diego Comic-Con 2016, we just announced Bubble Zoom: a new way to read digital comics on phones and tablets.” – Android Blog
That’s right, comic books are on tablets and smartphones now, but the smaller the screen, the harder it is to read the dialogue and thought bubbles of the characters. Sure, you can pinch and zoom, but doing that for every frame is tedious. That’s where Google’s new comic book reader comes in handy, as it machine learning to know when the right time it is to automatically zoom the dialogue and thoughts to make them easier to read. To be fair, some comic reader apps provide innovative ways to read comics, but this is just cool!
As part of Google Play Books reader, the new feature, called Bubble Zoom, utilizes a new algorithm that identifies that you’re reading a Comic book and can actually see the bubbles. As you read the comic book, you simply click on the bubble itself, or use the up and down volume control to cycle through them at your leisure. Bubble Zoom was the result of Google Play users providing feedback on the reader. Fans would complain that the dialogue bubbles were notoriously hard to read, especially on mobile phones, where screens tend to be smaller than tablets. So Google rose to the occasion and added Bubble Zoom to make reading more enjoyable.
Kudos to them for doing that, and announcing the feature at the beginning of Comic-Con is a genius move, especially considering all Marvel and DC Comics are currently 50% off to download (just use the discount code SDCC2016). That’s the key here, as Bubble Zoom will only work on Marvel and DC comics, at the moment. But comic book fans will have their hands full with those, considering that there well over 2,800 comics in the Google Play store.
Down the road, Google plans to open up Bubble zoom to independent and third party comics, but until then, it’s Marvel and DC. “As we continue to teach our machines to read more comic book styles, our goal is to eventually bring Bubble Zoom to all the comics and manga ever made,” the Android blog explained.
Unfortunately, the other limitation is that in the short term, Bubble Zoom is only supported through Android devices. Google plans to iron out all the bugs for the Android platform, and then maybe consider an iOS version, so iOS fans will have to deal with the old fashioned way of read their favorite graphic novels by pinching and zooming on an iPhone. Of course, an iPad solves that problem, but Bubble Zoom would do well on Apple’s famous tablet.
To get access to bubble zoom, go to Google Play and download Google Play Books reader. It’s free, though the comic books … well, you’ll have to buy those.
Hat tip – Tech Crunch