Monday, June 16, 2014

Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited App is Still Terrible

Notification of a Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited App crashing.
MDCU App Crashes Again
The Android Phone App for accessing Marvel's Digital Comics Unlimited service is still awful as of June 2014.  Marvel seems to come out with new updates all the time, and I just wanted to warn people who are considering the app.

For those who haven't heard, Marvel Digital Comic Unlimited (MDCU), is a Netflix-like subscription service, but for comic books.  The company that brought us Spiderman, X-men, and 100s of other comics is offering their fans access to over 15,000 comic archive(and growing) for a low monthly price.  The cost is about the equivalent of 2 comics a month.  It's a great idea, and for people like me who have never been into comics, it gives me a chance to try lots of comics or read the large history of Marvel Super-Hero history.

Like Netflix, Marvel is understandably concerned people will take their streaming content, save it, and spread it and destroy their business model.  So, they create custom, encrypted apps that alone can access the MDCU content.  The problem is that, the app on android is so fucking terrible.  On every android phone I've tried it, and every update of the app, the usability ranges from frustrating and completely unusable.

Until this last April, my MDCU subscription was a complete waste of money.  When I first got the service, the app slightly worked for me for a couple months, but then an update came by and made it unusable.  I couldn't even view a comic.  I must have contacted support 4 or 5 times trying to get help.  The only response I got was "we know, we're working on it".  I got no response when I asked for more details or asked for my account to be temporarily suspended\escrowed until they got their act together.

I was excited  when I found a new app update as I was hoping to actually make it work.  Fortunately, the app is now usable, but still damned frustrating.  When I start it up, half the time my login credentials are lost, but then suddenly show up when I change screens.  When downloading comics to view later, the whole app freezes up.  And When I close the app and come back, I'll get a message that it crashed  and for about 5 minutes, really weird stuff happens.  Also, when displaying my comics that I place in my library, half the information isn't displayed unless I do a "refresh", but as soon as I leave the screen it all disappears again.

I am not the only person to complain.  Marvel forums and other blogs\forums around the internet are full of people complaining about it as well.

I will say that the Website interface has worked pretty well.  However, I enjoy reading on my smart phone or tablet.  They are easier to hold than a laptop.  Also my phone is more portable and I always have it with me if I'm suddenly in a "waiting" situation like at a Doctor's office or DMV line.  Chances are you won't have your laptop with you, but will have a phone.  That's why I think the phone\table App is important to work and is the real value to the service.

All that being said, I still think the service is a pretty good deal.  I'm currently trying(with all the frustrations) to work my way through Marvel's vast super hero history starting with old comics starting in 1961.  However, I just wanted to warn future potential customers that are planning on purchasing MDCU:  Be prepared for the Android Phone App to be a frustrating experience and maybe even unusable.
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