FYI (3/15/2011 12:00pm PDT): Since the review was published this morning, this app seems to have been pulled from the App Store. Not sure why or if it will be back.

Developer: AFK Studio

Price: $4.99
Version:1.5

iPhone Integration Rating: ★★★★☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★★☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Who doesn’t remember sitting down to a page or two of The Funnies on Sunday Morning? As we grow older, most of us have switched to reading our favourite comics online, perhaps even in an RSS reader, or, heaven forbid, visiting each page every few days.

AFK studios has created an app hoping to simplify your comic reading endeavours. Listing over 400 popular published and online comics (from Adam @Home to XKCD), they’ve created an app with a fluid user interface that makes reading comics easier than picking up a newspaper on the weekend.

What you’ll probably enjoy about this app the most is that it is designed specifically to let the comic shine through. There isn’t much in the way of menus, lists, categories or tags. Once you’ve subscribed to your favourite strips, you can set your main page to show all comics, or just the new ones. Once you’re viewing a strip, a flick of the finger shows the next comic. Feel free to zoom in as you would any photo! You can also save each comic to your iPhone or iPad, or share via Twitter, Email or Facebook.

Sure, you could use any old RSS reader to subscribe to most of the listed comics, but you’ll probably have comment links, page links, ads or other bits and pieces filling up the page when all you really want to do is have a little laugh at Garfield. The Funnies offers a simple and user-intuitive interface.

Additionally, no RSS readers are going to give you an in-app search engine just for comics. With over 400 listed, it’s likely you’ll find your favourites, or discover a new one and very easily simply by adding it to your home feed. The in-app search functionality is one of the best features of this app.

Unfortunately, this is where I found a couple of problems within the app. The first issue can be seen when you search for a strip – tap it to add it to your list, with the option to see the most recent strip.

However, once in this ‘preview’ page, there’s no way out. The virtual keyboard that popped up in the search menu is stuck up, and you literally need to force-quit from the multi-task menu, by going into (any other) app. This is annoying, but hopefully easy to fix in a future update.

The only other problem I had with the search functionality is that you cannot search by Author. Not knowing if PvP would be listed as an abbreviation, I search for Scott Kurtz, but to no avail. Fret not, I found it listed under Player VS Player.

The developers are constantly adding new strips with every update, and while not available now, I’m hoping that in future updates we can add our own RSS feeds for lesser-known comics too.

For those of us who read several comics weekly, and don’t always keep on top of the publishing schedule (is it three days a week? or five?) The Funnies is a great tool to keep all of your strips in one place, and much cleaner and purposefully designed than a generic RSS reader. I suggest you try out the Free Version (which only offers 50 comics in the Search Database) first, and once you’re hooked on the simplicity of it, you’ll eagerly download the full version.

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