Much has been said of the newly announced iPad from Apple. And of course the iPhone continues to grow in popularity. Both of these devices are groundbreaking in many ways, but in particular they offer something unique among their peers – an incredible interface. If you think about it, the technology used in these devices is not that new. You can find many, if not all, of the same features available in other devices on the market today.
So why the excitement? What makes Apple’s stuff so cool? I want to suggest that it’s in large part due to the touch interface – the smooth transitions, the fluid responses, the intuitive use of simple hand gestures create a powerful user experience. It’s obvious, and it’s seductive. Of course a powerful interface is only part of the “ease of use” formula, albeit an important part. To their credit Apple has spent a great deal of time and energy creating a look and feel that engages people. From translucent windows and animated transitions all the way down to the typography – the detail is impressive. Which brings us to a particular area of interest – fonts.
The fonts on these devices are…well, what can we say? adequate?
I say adequate because I think they could be better. No surprise there since that’s our passion at FontGear, but a few things could be better. Let’s consider fonts on the iPhone.
1. Font options
The fact of the matter is that Apple has locked down font control on the iPhone. For instance when composing an e-mail there are no message formatting options available. Even in the Mail settings there is only a single font size option that applies to all e-mails. This is a problem across the iPhone operating system.
2. Font management
In reality, the iPhone comes loaded with a decent collection of fonts. But, alas, these fonts are used primarily to render web pages in the iPhone version of the Safari web browser. Wouldn’t it be great if we had a font manager application that would allow access (and use) of these already installed fonts? It’s as though Apple just doesn’t trust us. 😉
3. Font installation
Finally, with better font management it would be great if we could install our own fonts on the iPhone. Perhaps the technical limitations (e.g. not enough memory, font rendering speeds, etc.) are prohibitive – but I suspect it has more to do with Apple’s interest in keeping the interface standard in tact. And while I can appreciate that, perhaps they go to far.
And for the new iPad? Unfortunately the type handling appears to have a long way to go (e.g. no serious text handling tools, poor automatic justification and hyphenation, etc.) – but – we do see glympses of font options that are encouraging.
Here’s a screen shot of the iPad showing a font menu: