The past decade in comics has been a constant process of innovation as publishers and tech companies try to figure out how digital comics might work in the future. Motion comics were big for a while before fading away, and in recent years the "Guided View" format of panel to panel transitions has become the preferred method.

Google and the team behind the Android operating system have been exploring several alternatives to Guided View, including last year's introduction of a "Vertical Scrolling" featuring. However, a new innovation has just been announced at San Diego Comic Con that may change the game forever, and it's called Bubble Zoom.

 

 

The concept behind Bubble Zoom is that, while reading comics in the vertical format on a phone or a tablet, the operating system can actually detect speech bubbles and narrative captions and bring those to the forefront of your screen. The feature uses the same software that Google uses to identify objects in photos, and is said to make reading comics easier on mobile devices as it eliminates the loss of the bigger picture that comes with zooming in entirely --- and the disorientation that often results.

It certainly looks cool from the examples provided, but there is a worry that this technology might obscure the art too much, and that altering the size of the balloons may impact authorial intent. However, each zoom is transitory until the reader has read the dialogue inside.

Bubble Zoom will be available on the latest edition of the Google Play Books app as a technical preview, with all Marvel and DC collected volumes supported. Eventually the goal is to roll the feature out to all forms of comics and manga available in the store.