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Appiphilia: Comic-Con on your iPhone, a reason to be animated

July 24, 2009 |  5:30 am

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Fans grab for Ironman freebies at the Marvel Comics booth during the preview night for Comic-Con International 2009.  Credit: Denis Poroy / Associated Press

Comic-Con, the annual popular arts confab that draws about 100,000 people to the San Diego Convention Center, has begun for aficionados of video games, sci-fi flicks, comics, things avant garde and "guaranteed to shock, annoy or perplex the older generation," as our friends on the Hero Complex blog said. (The legion of superheroes on that blog are writing, shooting and tweeting all the excitement and news from Comic-Con. Check it out.)

If you're in this fantasy mecca, then you might want to put your iPhone to work. Hey, there's free Wi-Fi there, right? There are apps to keep you informed about the goings-on, keep you engaged and keep you entertained.


Mzl.hqtdemay Official Comic-Con App (Free)

What it is: A digital guide to this year's Comic-Con, including news, programs, exhibitors and maps.

Bottom line: On the home screen of the app, a clock keeps count of how much longer the exhibit hall will be open. Under info, you get a lot of the content you'd find down the left rail on the main website – fast facts, guest details, registration information. The app lets you go through the list of programs and exhibitors by date and type, respectively, and mark them as favorites with pushpin icons. As you scroll through, you can ID them pretty quickly.

A better option might have been to collect them in a favorites tab to more easily scroll through and create a schedule. Since the maps are horizontal to begin with, they should really be viewable in landscape mode. It also might have been nice to have the pushpins drop in on the map to help you figure out a preferred route since the convention center is rather large. But they zoom and remain sharply detailed.


Mzl.gicmrpsl Fan Schedule's Unofficial San Diego Comic Con 2009 Events Schedule (99 cents) 

What it is: I know the name might be misleading, but it is an unofficial digital events schedule.

Bottom line: While the home screen isn't anything special, the app does let you create your own day-by-day schedule and easily see if your plans to hit the Black Panel, Dune, Women in Manga and the SteamPunk Meet-Up are likely to pan out. The schedule has a breakdown by event, room and time as well as a search.

Mzl.hxjkmqgq Syfy Comic-Con 2009 (Free)

What it is: A photo-sharing app for Comic-Con

Bottom line: You see some crazy stuff in San Diego, but you can't be everywhere at once. This way you won't miss one rabid rabbit costume, random bit of humor (such as bananas at the snack bar labeled "curved yellow fruit") or moment like a seated Darth Vader with his helmet on the floor by his big black boot. As someone wrote, "I guess it's hard work being evil." As with most photo-sharing apps, you can snap it in the app or tap it from your roll and add a caption. You can also geo-tag it so it'll show up in the photo map. Photos are also sortable by discussion, arrival and rating. For fans, there's also a Syfy panel schedule and news from Sci Fi Wire.


Comicx Comics (99 cents) 

What it is: Comics reader that enables you to make in-app purchases

Bottom line: At Comic-Con on Thursday, developer Iconology announced the launch of this app, which they describe as a digital comics store, library and reader. Upon its launch, the app offered more than 100 titles from 20 well-known publishers. Comics creator Robert Kirkman also has an exclusive agreement to deliver his titles "Walking Dead," "Astounding Wolf-Man" and "Invincible" through Comics.

The "guided view" feature is quite an ingenious way to present an intact comics page and keep the viewing experience seamless. With the "animate transitions" feature active, it's almost like watching an animated video. You can adjust the transition speed as well. The app responds to shifting from portrait to landscape, and you can set the app to rotate automatically based on how the comic was drawn.

Since you are downloading the comics to your iPhone or iPod and they eat up your storage (depending on how ravenous you are about downloading), you can set how much storage you want to allocate for this data and what to delete first when you run out of space.

There's also a link that takes you to Amazon.com to buy the comics in print. If you prefer to go the bricks-and-mortar route, the app also will locate the nearby comics shops and provide directions through Google Maps. 

The app does have a 17+ rating in the App Store. The offerings are either free or 99 cents.

-- Michelle Maltais

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