One of my biggest criticisms of Apple’s iPad (and the iPhone for that matter) was its inability to read Flash. This was particularly irksome to me since the CO2 Comics site depends on a Flash viewer to display all of the great comics that we have to offer. We use Flash primarily for its stability and it makes our viewer particularly compatible with motion comics like Bernie Mireault’s The Jam Urban Adventure.
I was not in a hurry to get a tablet, especially one that could not read Flash. I knew that when I eventually bought one it most likely would be the iPad since I swear by my iMac, tote around an iPhone, and would want all to interact seemlessly on the old iCloud. But to me an iPad was just a big iPhone and I am completely happy sitting in front of my computer in my studio, surfing the net and reading webcomics on my 17″ monitor.
I’m not excited about the idea of buying a comic app to read on a device. I’d rather have the comic book whenever possible and there is so much free comic content on the web, I could read comics forever without spending a dime.
So tablets did not impress me. They are just another tekkie device attempting to flip over the consumer and shake every last shekel out of our already thinly worn pockets.
But hey, I’m an old fart. What do I know?
When an iPad mini migrated into our home to be used primarily by my wife and daughter (my son’s Macbook Pro is tattooed to him as is his iPhone) I squeamishly explored its browser capabilities, sadly confirming its inability to read Flash. This became an even bigger issue, however, when my wife discovered she could not play Farmville, her favorite Flash based Facebook game.
Oh! The horrors!!
So I sat in front of my trusty iMac and explored. I quicky discovered a number of apps claiming to enable the iPad to be able to view Flash, all with varied reviews. iSwifter caught my attention. It was a cloud based server designed for games, that quicky translated your interaction back to your device. It was FREE! It could play Farmville! Surely it could handle the CO2 Comics viewer.
Well, the app was free…for fifteen minutes each day for a week after which it was $9.99 for unlimited usage. After I got knocked off when my first fifteen minutes expired it was worth the ten bucks to me not to have to wait twenty-four hours to take another stab at experimenting with it. (Sucker!)
Sure enough, it worked as promised. It was fast. The images were clear. Farmville worked great. I could read all the comics on CO2 Comics with some minor snafus. It needs Wi-Fi and does not work at all on the iPhone. The CO2 Comics Flash viewer worked fine and it jumped nicely from page to page but the browser was locked into a horizontal view and I could not significantly change the size of the image. This forced me to have to center the comic viewer on the screen and scroll up and down. I could not control the scrolling action at all by touching the comic page in the viewer. I could only use the tiny available border visible on each side of the image. If I happened to accidentally touch a link, I was off to a different site. With a little practice I was navigating CO2 Comics like a pro and I was satisfied despite the quirks.
Screw Farmville! I can read CO2 Comics on an iPad!
I was happy until I sat down to write this post. I did some more research on the subject and came across this list of Alternative Browsers for the iPad compiled by Craig Nansen that appeared on a 2011 post on Wired Educator:
Diigo Browser (free) – Chrome-like, with annotation and offline reading (formerly iChromy)
Atomic Web Browser ($0.99) – Browse FullScreen w/ Download Manager & Dropbox
Cloud Browse ($2.99)
iCab Mobile (Web Browser) ($1.99)
Grazing Web Browser ($1.99)
Puffin Web Browser ($0.99)
Opera Mini Web browser (free)
Boy am I glad I did!
The comic reading experience in the Puffin Web Browser was great! So much better than iSwifter. I can’t believe I almost settled for something so mediocre. The thing I like most about Puffin is the ability to zoom in and out with no discretion. The images slide across the screen with a sweep of the finger. There are some artifacts in the images. They are more noticeable on black and white images and become more apparent, naturally, when the image is larger but they are not that big of a distraction from the reading experience, at least no more than the funky printing on the old newsprint comics.
One other plus about Puffin is that it does work without Wi-Fi enabled. It is slower on Verizon’s 3G network but it gets the job done if you have the patience to wait 5-10 seconds to turn a page.
Puffin is also available for the iPhone! So, being the curious goat that I am, I quickly downloaded the app to my iPhone. Sure enough, I can now read CO2 Comics on my cell as well, though my suspicions were confirmed. I just can’t seem to enjoy reading comics on a little cell phone screen. If I wanted to read comics that small I’d go buy some penny gum and read the comic adventures of Bazooka Joe. Unfortunately they no longer include those tiny printed gems with those crusty little pink and chewy bricks of gum. What’s next? Hostess cupcakes? ( I know. I know. Sad isn’t it?)
Reading CO2 Comics on the iPhone using Puffin Web Browser was pretty much just like reading them on the iPad except everything was smaller and it did move a bit slower. Buttons and links were harder to navigate because of their shrunken size and though I could zoom in and out just as easily, I needed to do it so much more often that it became a bore. I at least know now that if I ever need a comic fix all I have to do is pull out my iPhone but I’d much rather read comics on a tablet, laptop, or desktop if no printed comic book is available.
So there you have it. A resounding, YES! You can read and enjoy Flash based comics on the iPad and the iPhone! Next time you have the urge to drop 99¢ on a comics app in Comixology to read one comic on your tablet remember that there are over a thousand pages of great comics right here on CO2 Comics that are just one FREE app away.
And don’t worry, if you would really much rather have a printed book, we have them too! Just click on that cool ad blinking at the bottom of this page!
Making Comics Because We Want to,