Google Launches Bubble Zoom To Improve Digital Comic Book Experience

Bubble ZoomDigital books, or e-readers, continue to grow in popularity but they may never fully overtake physical books. While there is something about the texture of paper and the weight of binding, readers are attracted to physical books because they tend to be easier to read than e-readers. Of course, technology continues to improve and many book-nuts have made the conversion, maybe even just in part, to e-readers as a more practical way to carry all their favorite reads on the go.

But aside from books, there are other things people read; mostly periodicals. Sure, newspapers and magazines have also made the move to digital, but they also suffer the same obstacles as books.

Comic books, however, suffer a little more than the average piece of literature, mostly because comic books combine visual images with quote bubbles that tell the reader who is speaking; and these quote bubbles can already be small and tough to read in a traditional comic book. That means they must be even harder to read on smaller mobile screens.

Well, Google tried to solve this problem last year by introducing a vertical scrolling feature in Google Play Books which allows the reader to easily scroll through panels using quick vertical swipes, while in landscape mode. It may have been a good idea, but it didn’t work.

This year, though, Google may have found the answer.

Introducing Bubble Zoom: this Google Play Books update uses the same machine learning engine that identifies images in Google Photos (so you can perform image searches) to recognize text and speech bubbles. Readers, then, can use the up volume key to zoom in specifically on text within speech bubbles.

In a statement, the tech giant notes, “Bubble Zoom expands the speech bubbles of a comic one-tap-at-a-time, making them super easy to read on your mobile device.” This means, of course, no reader will have to sacrifice the full-page layout experience in favor of reading the narrative and dialog; no more zooming in and out of frames and panning on the screen.

This Google Play Books update has already launched and a technical preview is now available on select comics. But to celebrate the full launch (and encourage users, perhaps) Google is also offering a 50 percent discount on select DC and Marvel comics in the store with code SDCC2016 (in honor of San Diego Comic Con, which began yesterday).

 

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