Needless to say it's been a hectic couple of months. The iPad is just perfect for Comic Zeal, there was never a question that I'd be creating a version of Comic Zeal for it.
There are three things I'd like to address today, first I'd like to take you through the Comic Zeal 4 interface, then we'll talk about importing comics and we'll talk about upgrading and versions last.
Let's start with the interface and look at our first screenshot:
You'll notice a lot of familiar elements there. The pop-up view holds what used to be the main navigation screen from the iPhone version. Adam has designed new icons for each of the categories and these are shown at the top of the screen.
You'll also note that the comic title and page number are shown on the same toolbar as the icons. There is no longer a distinction between reading and selecting comics like there is on the iPhone app. It works really well, as you end up selecting the little covers on the pop-up to see the larger version on the main view. It's a very effective way to browse and if you've started to read a comic the bookmarked page is shown instead and serves to give you a quick catch-up on what you'd got up to while choosing a comic.
At the moment we're still showing the 'hide interface' arrow on the top right, Adam has come up with a better option for this but it's not made it into the first release.
We've moved most of the controls to the top of the page because if the iPad is on your lap then it's going to be awkward to reach buttons on the bottom of the screen. You'll end up having to thrust your elbow forward and be tempted to press the buttons with your thumb (try it now, pretend to press a button just in front of your belly). When the controls are at the top of the screen you can use your index finger to press them.
We've made an exception with the page turning controls, those should be and are accessible by thumb.
Naturally, the reading interface can still be dismissed by a double-tap to give you a full-screen view of the comic.
When the interface is hidden you turn the page by sliding the current page left or right. Sliding it to the bottom of the screen stops the reading of the current comic, shows the interface again and displays the comic selection pop-up.
To finish off talking about the interface I just want to show you what this all looks like in portrait, in case you've not seen them before, some of the other comic display options and the splash screen:
Comic Zeal 4 is able to read CBZ,ZIP,CBR and RAR files natively. So you can just fire up SyncDocs on your PC or Mac, drag in a whole bunch of CBZ files and import them into Comic Zeal. *** Please note you no longer need to do this! this was only when CZ 4 was first released, have a look at the iTunes file description for instructions on how to use iTunes file sharing to sync your files ***
Comic Zeal will still need to process the comics and resize the images, although they're now 60% larger than they were before. This process is going to be optimised and tweaked once we get our hands on a real iPad. At the moment we have no idea how long it will take to process the comics and it could be that on release, using Comic Zeal Sync is still the best option.
You'll still need to use Comic Zeal Sync to read PDFs, we don't know how the iPad will deal with opening the huge PDF files that a lot of you have.
At the moment we can't talk about any other options for transferring the comic files into Comic Zeal so please don't think I've forgotten to mention it, I just can't talk about it.
Pricing and versions
So why is this called Comic Zeal 4 and not Comic Zeal iPad?
The plan at the moment is to have both versions on the app store (this means that Comic Zeal 4 will be an additional purchase).
As the tools to do it become easier we'll make version 4 iPhone compatible too and at that point we'll stop development of version 3. Whilst both versions are on the store I'll do my best to ensure that any big version 4 features that are feasible on the iPhone also make it into version 3.
So Comic Zeal Version 4 isn't just for the iPad, at some point it will also be available for the iPhone, just not yet.
I hope you've enjoyed this preview, before you return to your wandering through the internet I'd like to mention some things:
First, thanks to Jim Shelley for allowing us to use his Flashback Universe comics to promote Comic Zeal and make them available for download. All the landscape screenshots are from his comic 'Paladin'.
Second, please keep in mind that the images you see here are taken from the iPad simulator, the real device has a much larger bezel.
Third, you can click on any of the images on this page to see them full size.