Bringing CBRs to the iPad on Vacation

I had CBR files I wanted to read on my iPad. I synced them, through iTunes, to GoodReader. I forgot, of course, that I use that app for reading PDFs. It doesn’t handle CBRs.

But it does allow me to upload files I have there to DropBox.

I found another app, Manga Storm CBR, which can download files from its own DropBox folder to be read locally.

So, with the help of an iPhone Personal Hotspot, I uploaded the files from GoodReader to DropBox (which allowed me to choose the App/Manga Storm CBR directory to upload the files to), and then downloaded them from there to Manga Storm CBR.

It worked.

Felt a little convoluted, but I doubt we’ll see those two apps setting up share sheets for each other anytime soon. Ya never know, I suppose…

The Problems with the Instagram App

I love Instagram. I use it to look at the work of artists. I follow a number of Disney animators and comic book illustrators and animation school students, mostly. I get a kick out of scrolling through that feed a couple times every day for inspiration.

However, the Instagram app — the cornerstone of the Instagram empire — sucks. It feels like it’s stuck at iOS 2.

Let me count the ways:

  1. It doesn’t remember where you were last time you launched the app. This is a very simple problem to solve. Just keep a marker for the last entry on the screen when the user last quit the app, or the app timed out from the background, etc. Next time the user opens the app, start with that image, and let them continue scrolling up. Granted, if it’s been a long time and there’s more than, say, 100 images, there might not be much you can do. But this is a solved problem — even Twitter can handle it. In fact, just follow Twitter’s lead, or Tweetbot’s, or whoever’s you’d like. The app IS the Instagram experience. Why can’t they control it properly?

  2. No pinch to zoom. Even on my iPhone 6, the images are small. I’d like to see some details, but I can’t zoom in. Sometimes, I get so desperate that I take a screenshot, go to the photo library, and zoom in on the screenshot to see more detail. That’s ridiculous. Why can’t Instagram figure out a way to make that work? Once the pinch to zoom is detected, blow the image up to fit the screen and go from there. When the user zooms back out, return to the standard view list.

  3. URLs aren’t hyperlinked. Aside from the URL used in the user’s bio where a website is specifically requested, URLs in the Instagram app are never hyperlinked. Even worse, you can’t press to highlight the text and copy it to bring it out to Safari to load. Perl solved this kind of problem 25 years ago. Every other language — including Objective-C — has followed it. Text manipulation is easy with Regular Expressions, even if you do something as simple as only looking for strings that start with “http”. That’d be a good start, at least.

  4. Make a comment? Sure, but the art disappears. When you click on the “Comment” button, a new screen pops up with all the other comments and a text field for you to make yours. The image disappears completely. You had better remember what you wanted to say before clicking that button. You can’t go back and forth, and you can’t see what you’re discussing. This probably helps with the preponderence of useless two word comments on the site.

  5. Comments are cut short. They end with “[…]”, but good look squeezing your finger into that 10 pixel wide target area to see the rest of the comment. Apple recommends against such tiny tap targets, but Instagram doesn’t listen. Actually, I’m not even sure if that IS a tap target. It’s grayed out like the “view all XX comments” link is, but I’ve never been able to successfully hit it. Short of clicking that “view all” link, I’m not sure there IS another way to see the rest of a long comment, as few and far between as they are.

  6. Share within Instagram. I’m happy that Instagram doesn’t have a reblog/retweet/repost feature. That might clog up the feed with things I didn’t want to see. Although, if it did, it could follow Twitter’s lead and offer a way of not showing those on my timeline. On a smaller level, lots of people share an image with their friend by leaving their friend’s Instagram handle in a comment, so that they get alerted to it. That leads to lots of useless comments that are annoying and clog up comment streams. Maybe it would be better to find a way to share a single Instagram image with a single Instagram friend? You can share to Twitter or Facebook, but not to another friend on Instagram? Weird.