Opinionated Type

Just Like Yours, Only They’re Mine: Josh Farmer

Tag: Apple Inc

Apple’s New Typeface in Maps: Avenir

Apple uses Myriad Pro (with a few tweaks) for its company branding. They used Helvetica for most of iOS until they switched to Helvetica Neue, which they still use now. They have consistently added new typefaces to their reading applications, like iBooks. And they use context-specific typefaces where needed, such as with the LED numerals for sports scores.

With the announcement of iOS 6 and iPhone 5, their video showed a clear all-purpose sans used in Maps.

The lowercase a is not right for it to be Futura, Frutiger, or Proxima Nova. The lowercase y is not right for it to be Soleil, Gotham, or Lucida Sans.

It’s Adrian Frutiger’s Avenir, the latest addition to the good stockpile of typefaces on Apple systems. Avenir is yet another answer to the desire for a Futura that is not Futura. Frutiger wanted something with more personality and a less harsh presentation than Futura on the printed page. Avenir is still geometric and still understated, but slightly more readable. And let’s hope so because your ability to arrive fashionably late now depends on it.

Avenir Next Image from fonts.com

Avenir Next Sample from fonts.com


Please Define Failure

Concerning Microsoft’s tablet announcement, dubbed Surface, Shawn Blanc today said:

The keyboards are a necessary component because of the software.

The Surface for Windows 8 Pro runs full-on traditional Windows apps — apps which you cannot use with touch input. You need a keyboard and trackpad for those apps.

In what way is a physical keyboard considered a success when it is necessary for a mobile computer? So then how long until reverting to old hardware is inherently understood as a failure? Why not bring back the terminal prompt while we’re at it? “Everything is a remix” was an observation, not necessarily a compliment.

I’m happy Microsoft is making some effort in this category, but when your software holds back your hardware from progressing, or vice versa, I mark that as a failure.

The Breakdown: Reuters Hates the Unreleased iPhone. We get it.

Less than two hours ago, Reuters posted this article, which is so full of nonsense that it makes “The Jabberwock” look rational.

I’ve reposted it here for demolition. Let’s look.

“SEOUL (Reuters) – Samsung Electronics Co launches its latest Galaxy S smartphone in Europe on Tuesday, with the third generation model expected to be even more successful than its predecessor,”

Nothing should be easier than being more successful than old technology.

“which helped the South Korean company topple Apple Inc as the world’s top smartphone maker.”

Toppled already? That was quick. I mean it only took half a decade. Oh, and what measurements are we using? Because current revenue and gross margin weren’t included, at almost 30 billion and almost 50 percent for Apple, but only 17 billion and 13 percent for Samsung.

I understand, though. Math is something we used when we were in school. But now that we’re out, we’ll stick to link baiting.

“The S3, which tracks the user’s eye movements to keep the screen from dimming or turning off while in use,”

Google Glasses proof of concept. I mean really, at this point if the word tracking is used, we expect Google is behind it and making a buck.

“hits stores in 28 European and Middle East countries, including Germany and Britain, as Samsung aims to widen the gap with Apple months ahead of its rival’s new iPhone, expected in the third quarter.”

Only 28? Do you know how many countries are over there? And if you’re going for big numbers and don’t want to include America, then China and India are the best bets. Especially if, as you have shown, revenue and margin aren’t high on the priority list. By all means, Germany should make the cut.

“The Galaxy S3, running on Google’s Android operating system, boasts a 4.8-inch screen,”

Two bummers in one sentence. But at least listing off bullet points is easy-peesy.

“bigger than the 3.5-inch display on the iPhone 4S and the 4.7-inch screen on HTC’s One X model.”

Oh, so now math is your strong suit. Must be only when it suits the one-sided argument being laid out here: bigger screen is obviously better, rather than better screen is better, even if that screen is only one-tenth of an inch bigger. Next up: projection screen in your pocket. Obviously better. Because it’s bigger.

“In the kind of anticipation that has become the norm for new Apple gadget releases, hopeful customers began queuing outside an electronics retail store in Berlin on Monday night eager to be the first to lay their hands on the S3.”

How many? It’s never said. And kudos for the quasi-cultish reference. The overlord will not forget your act of servitude.

“Major global carriers – from Vodafone to Singapore’s SingTel – [sic for the lame hyphens which should be em dashes] have been aggressively promoting the S3, fuelling [sic, should be one l according to Oxford] speculation the smartphone could top the Galaxy S2’s 20 million unit sales worldwide.”

They’ve only sold 20 million S2s around the globe? But there’s almost a billion people just in the Middle-Eastern-and-Euro pond they’re fishing in. And Apple sold almost twice that amount just in the last quarter alone.

“In the two years that [that is such an unnecessary word] we’ve been offering pre-orders, it’s the most pre-ordered Android device we’ve had in our line-up,’ said a spokesman for Vodafone UK, declining to disclose exact numbers. ‘It’s on track to meet, if not exceed, the level of pre-orders we expected by the time it actually launches.’”

“We didn’t expect much, so it’s not as great as it sounds, but we know how to spin us some headlines! Set the expectations low, then blow them out of the water!”

“Samsung introduced its first Galaxy in 2010, three years after the iPhone’s debut,”

Steve Jobs wasn’t kidding when he said they were at least five years ahead of the competition at the first iPhone release.

“to counter Apple’s roaring success in smartphones at a time when other rivals such as Nokia were struggling to make much impact.”

Apple’s roaring success? Check. Other companies struggling? Check. Nothing much has changed here.

“Samsung sold 44.5 million smartphones in January-March – equal to nearly 21,000 every hour – giving it 30.6 percent market share. Apple sold 35.1 million iPhones, taking 24.1 percent market share.”

Enough already with the one-metric qualifier for success. And again, em dashes—like this— or spaced ones — like this — would make you look like a, um, uh, professional.

“‘The Galaxy S3 is a real challenger to the upcoming iPhone,’ said Francisco Jeronimo, an IDC analyst based in London.”

Says the person with no information whatsoever.

“‘This is likely be [sic, missing word] one of the most sold smartphones this year, though the real test will come when the next iPhone is launched.’”

Mr. Obvious, your obvious observation is not subtle. Analysts of this sort should never be paid. Say something I couldn’t have figured out on my own, would ya?

“The race for global smartphone supremacy comes as Apple has accused Samsung of copying some of its products. The South Korean company counter-claims that Apple has infringed its patents. Both have denied the allegations, and a long-running court saga continues.”

What other random details can we throw in this article? Steve Jobs is no longer running Apple. Did you mention that?

“Apple plans to use a larger screen on the next iPhone, according to people familiar with the situation. The iPhone 4S was introduced last October.”

But these people are super-secret, almost non-existent. Or they are rumor-mongering hacks with no familiarity with Apple’s product plans. Either way, only the second sentence is true.


“In a departure from its predecessor, whose look and feel became the main subject of the legal dispute with Apple, the latest Galaxy has a more rounded outline. It also has voice recognition, dubbed S Voice, which will inevitably be compared to Apple’s Siri, and image recognition software that can tag and share photographs.”

Ah, the lonely S. Apple has never used that before.

“Prices vary depending on the contract. A model with 16 gigabytes of memory costs up to 189 pounds ($300) under a 12-month contract with Vodafone. A similar package for the iPhone 4s costs 159 pounds, but comes with a more expensive monthly data plan.”

“Samsung said it will release the S3 via 296 carriers in 145 countries by July.”

“Profit from Samsung’s mobile division nearly tripled in January-March to $3.6 billion, accounting for 73 percent of operating profit.”

Good for them. Now, in comparison.

“Samsung – whose shares have gained 82 percent since late-August, beating Apple’s 58 percent rise – is now banking on an aggressive marketing campaign ahead of the summer London Olympics to further drive sales. It has said its mobile market share in China doubled after the 2008 Beijing Olympics.”

And we’re back to math. Yes, 82 is more than 58. But look at the graph.

“‘The S3 is supported by an unprecedented promotional campaign,’ said Geoff Blaber, an analyst at CCS Insight in London. ‘Samsung’s timing with the Galaxy S3 is perfect.’”

Perfect remains to be seen. As far as we know, the next iPhone is perfect. But you already hate it, so we don’t have to go there.

“($1 = 0.6396 British pounds)

($1 = 1185.3500 Korean won)

(Additional reporting by Paul Sandle in LONDON and Tarmo Virki in HELSINKI; Editing by Ryan Woo and Ian Geoghegan)”

Final note: edit first, then post.

Apple’s 2012 WWDC Logo

Apple’s 2012 WWDC Logo

Apple’s WWDC 2012 Logo

This beautiful logo is brightly colored and made of the icon squares we’ve come to associate with iOS devices. It’s a good step away from the monochrome Apple logos we’ve seen over the last several years, and seeing the individual rounded squares gives a great sense of the developer community that has flourished on the iOS foundation. Though the multilayered effect is good and the heart of the logo beats red, blue still seems the dominant color.

To the unseen designer of this logo, good job. Very effective. I wonder if there’s a method to the design, like certain kinds of apps are certain colors while sizes are based on sales? I’d love to see if there’s a rationale to it.

An Interview with Jon Tan: The Setup

An interview with Jon Tan: The Setup.

On 13 June 2011, not even a year ago, Jon Tan did an interview with The Setup, a site that asks what the pros are using and what their ultimate setup would be.

The last three paragraphs are the most amazing to me because, besides a few tangible limitations like a tablet that can grow to be more than the size of a projector and software that knows your thoughts, much of it is now available.

As others have said, we are living in the future. The future is now.

Apple’s Siri: The UI-versal Solvent

Just as each tollbooth taxes the commuter, each UI/UX translation that has to happen to get from input to output presents a problem.

A calculator uses plain numbers for the main four computations. One input, one output — numerals — and what you type is what shows up without translation. An abacus may somewhat be more complicated in that the same type of bead has more than one meaning, with the only differentiator being color, size, or position.

Abacus on Wikipedia

Abacus on Wikipedia

More complicated tasks need modes. Calculating a specific tangent of a wave involves multiple calculator steps, such as pressing a button prior to, in the midst of, or after running a calculation to receive the answer in the correct format. On one calculator I have, when I divide 14 by 3 the answer given is 14/3. Useless for most purposes. It’s only after I press Casio’s S<–>D button that I get a workable answer of 4.666666667. I can do something with that.

Adobe’s Creative Suite is even more complicated due to its power. You can’t just write. You have to choose the text tool, select the destination, type the word, then format it by type choice, size, weight, and the like. These options thankfully open a wide range of possibilities.

Multi-touch made your finger the UI, doing away with the stylus for all but the most precise artistic tasks. The processing was hidden behind the multi-touch glass and all we saw was an application zooming to do our bidding.


Siri the Helpful

But modes don’t really exist with Apple’s Siri. Giving a command to Siri is just that. Speak a command to Siri and it responds verbally, accomplishing the task you’ve given it.

The beauty of Siri is that you are the UI. Your voice is the medium. No other mode is needed. Siri is the personal mediator, with the processing hidden behind a simple, helpful façade. Now, it’s not quite to the level IBM’s Watson is capable of — including understanding denotative themes and tying together only loosely related strands of thought — but Siri does away with the complex in a way we are only used to with other people. It takes all the layers of interaction that we once thought necessary and reduces them down to two: input and output, where the method and the medium are the same — your voice.

Apple has brought AI to the masses in its most basic form. The days are numbered for those dialog boxes that ask multiple times if we’re sure we want to complete such-and-such action. We now have a cascade of options for accomplishing tasks: keyboard, mouse, multi-touch, voice. And each one requires less interaction to get what we want done.

Less interaction, less mistakes; less mistakes, less frustration; less frustration, more enjoyment; and more enjoyment means more accomplishment and more interaction with those enjoyable tools. Apple was not the first voyager to the mineral springs of voice commands, but with Siri, Apple has bottled the universal solvent for much of our UI problems.

Apple to Halt Sales of Latest iPhone in China Retail Stores | Yahoo! News

Apple to halt sales of latest iPhone in China retail stores – Yahoo! News.

There are so many possibilities for captions here:

  • Apple admits defeat. Finally.
  • Asian markets do not have iPhone hysteria.
  • Coming to a Samsung retail store near you.
  • The only non-Flash mob.

Favorite Typefaces from 2011

This was a great year for type.

Apple got a bit more serious about their font choices in iBooks. Adobe acquired Typekit. Hoefler & Frere-Jones set to slabbing Gotham for President Obama’s second presidential run. Individual foundries stepped into a new level of webfont prowess. Codex magazine was released. 8 Faces continued its solid run. Typekit partnered with WordPress to add a “customize” feature for type choice, and they made sure to steer the average blogger toward appropriate typefaces for their needs. Matthew Carter’s seminal web typefaces, Verdana and Georgia, received solid updates. Gerard Unger partnered with Type Together. Many familiar families received updates or had more styles and weights added. And some newcomers were given a chance to shine. Here are the typefaces I think are really worth a serious look — my favorite typefaces from 2011.


Ideal Sans by Hoefler & Frere-Jones

You can’t make a best-of list and not include one of the greatest foundries today. Ideal Sans puts the anthropomorphic back in humanist sans. Angles, curves, pointed terminals, and flares are the name of the game here. This to me is one of their most energetic faces to date. Let me see if I can explain why. H&F-J remind me a lot of how Steve Jobs is remembered: as those who tweak what is familiar or lacking and turn it into something that feels almost necessary. They reinvigorate stale or stalled categories to give them new life. Gotham, Vitesse, Sentinel, and Tungsten aren’t show-stoppers, but they feel brand new and are done with such excellence that you can’t help but be drawn to them. They are certainly good. But compared to them, Ideal Sans is not an inspired tweak or even a drastic improvement, it feels like a new path has been forged.

Ideal Sans Sample

Ideal Sans Sample

Soleil by Wolfgang Homola at Type Together

Not since Gotham’s appearance has a more rational, familiar, and pleasing face shone its geometric tranquility. Where other geometric faces lean toward the austere or distasteful, Soleil gives slight hints of a real personality. For example, the friendly lowercase f, the curved and open c, the large x-height, and the & seem to bring what could have been the love child of Futura and Gotham into our current times.  Two words of caution, though — there are no italics and the O seems excessively spaced. (Try it in an all caps sentence without spaces.) The first, I am sure, will be remedied soon enough; the second you can easily take care of on your own.

Soleil Sample

Soleil Sample

Pluto by Hannes von Döhren at HVD Fonts

Exhaustive doesn’t even begin to explain this type family: there are 16 upright weights and 16 italic weights. Pluto feels like a playful mix of Gill Sans/Mr. Eaves and a bit of Coquette and Bree, but with a touch more cheekiness, a wide stance for each character, and a goliath x-height. All that adds up to a big personality even when set at 9 or 10 pts. There is no skimming past the words Pluto voices.

Pluto Sample

Pluto Sample


Georgia Pro or 2.0 or whatever it’s now called by Matthew Carter

Is it just me or does Georgia’s new caps look a bit more aggressive? Either way, I like it.

Georgia Sample

Georgia Sample

Pollen by Eduardo Berliner at Type Together

Calligraphy meets regularity; feminine softness melding with vibrant writing speed. Pollen is equal parts vigorous and sensuous, and the italics only accentuate the speed. If this is possible, it feels like a mix of confidence and demurring or gentility at once. The & is gorgeous and the tails on the descenders, especially the italics, curve and flare just as hoped. I’m just waiting for the day when a women’s line makes this award-winning typeface their own (and partners with Type Together to expand its weights beyond the three it now has).

Pollen Descender and & Sample

Pollen Descender and & Sample

Pollen Paragraph Sample

Pollen Paragraph Sample

FF Spinoza by Max Phillips at FontFont

Eleven years in the making, Spinoza is worth the wait. Heavy serifs, sharp and deep cuts (top of r and h and bottom of e and c), and high contrast are its distinctive characteristics. Together these characteristics give it a strong horizontal line and an intense clarity that will hold up under the worst printing circumstances. I am drawn to the modified ball on the c, the black version of the c, and the lovely sweep of the italic y. The dot over the i goes from a squircle in the roman to almost brush-like in the italic, emphasizing the line speed quite effectively. Spinoza is perfectly aligned with the great trend of distinctive typefaces that have character and indestructibility. Among the newer offerings are Karmina, Malabar, Harfang, and Vesper — all great choices.

FF Spinoza Large Sample

FF Spinoza Large Sample

FF Spinoza Advertising Sample

FF Spinoza Advertising Sample

Abril by Type Together

Type Together creates excellent, new typefaces in the editorial category. Some of their families are used for display sizes, but mostly they’re intended for dense amounts of text in publications like newspapers, magazines, and websites. Abril actually has two faces within the family, a display and a text version. The text version is based on scotch roman and slab serif models while the display is based on Didone; that makes the text darker and with less contrast than the display, which is exactly what each needs. At first they may look practically identical, but the details will not escape the careful observer and lover of type. It is these details that smooth the transition from one family to the other as well as distinguishes them. And I just love those modified ball terminals. Hope you were able to get the free display weight of Abril a little while ago.

Abril Differences Sample

Abril Differences Sample

Bree Serif (brand new) by Type Together

Bree was an immediate, unmitigated hit. It was simple, friendly, and had a great personality — not to mention the alternate glyphs that introduced degrees of regularity. Billed as the serif cousin to Bree, Bree Serif is still friendly but more mature. And the regular weight is free. Free to download right now. Who takes a runaway hit and releases a new version for free when they could easily make a buck on it? Pretty cool. Bree Serif was released right before Christmas. And a very merry one to you.

Bree Serif Sample

Bree Serif Sample

Decorative & Script

Reina (PDF) by Maximiliano Sproviero at Lian Types

Latin America is known for its painterly and script typefaces. Reina is one of the most exhaustive I’ve seen in this category — there’s basically four versions of every character, from no-frills to swashtastic. If you do nothing else today, get the PDF and use it as your manifesto for typographic beauty and for excess. Simply gorgeous, but by no means simple. And Sproviero is only in his late twenties. I can’t wait to see what else he comes out with.

Reina Numerals Sample

Reina Numerals Sample

Reina Sample

Reina Sample

Burgues Script OT by Sudtipos

The Sudtipos foundry is well-known for their expressive, exhaustive script designs. Burgues Script is no surprise in that respect; it fits right in with their reputation of excellence. Like Reina, what sets it apart is the breadth of characters and swash options. I rarely look further than Sudtipos for my script needs.

Burgues Script Sample

Burgues Script Sample

Ambicase Fatface by Craig Eliason for Teeline Font at FontShop

Few typefaces seem destined for drop caps situations like Ambicase Fatface is. This family is a refined version of Ambicase Modern and is intended for use at monstrous sizes. There is no lowercase because each character combines both the upper- and lowercase into one character (look at the A, E, and G). It’s a great mixture with all the OpenType features you could want.

Ambicase Fatface Sample

Ambicase Fatface Sample

2010: Better Late Than Never

Since I didn’t put this list together last year, I thought I’d throw in a few of last year’s exceptional lot. This includes updates as well as brand new faces.

Maiola Book weight by Type Together

Maiola isn’t new, but weights were added so it gets a nice shout-out. It carries tension in each curve and doesn’t let up through the straight lines. Much of this is owed to the hard breaks and sharp angles placed throughout each glyph. These contours make the face feel as if it was etched rather than typed. It feels more human, like it went through a rough journey instead of just appearing fully formed. I visualize a stone carver chipping away at a cement block from the outside in, never having a smooth surface upon completion but always arriving at the satisfaction of being done. Maiola shows that each variation, however, is perfectly in place and at home — resolved in the best way possible without losing one bit of expressiveness.

Maiola Sample

Maiola Sample

Harfang by André Simard at PSY/OPS

Harfang is an aggressive face with a vertical stress. The huge x-height and short descenders and ascenders allow it to be densely set. Taken together, these aspects make it a very compact family with a dark overall color on the page. It also makes for a distinctive logo typeface; I was able to accomplish this with a client this year, and they were very happy with how it turned out.

Harfang Sample

Harfang Sample

Calluna Sans by Jos Buevinga at exljbris

A great addition to a fantastic serif. Familiar, clear, readable for long text. You can’t ask for much more.

Calluna Sans Sample

Calluna Sans Sample

Aniuk by Typejockeys

This gets my award for the most distinct face of its release year. It’s friendly. It’s odd. It’s got sharp corners that contrast with sweeping curves. And that lowercase y is daring in its several forms. It would go perfectly with an organic product line as well as a line of children’s products or services. Let Aniuk push you into categories of boldness and fun.

Aniuk Sample

Aniuk Sample

Adelle by Type Together (thin weights added in ’11)

Since its release, Adelle has been the go-to typeface for those wanting to define “new news” for their audience, and Type Together knows how to please. They expanded the family by adding weights this year. Now you can present your huge headlines in the thinnest weights while keeping your rock-solid credibility.

Adelle Sample

Adelle Sample

Tiina by Valentin Brustaux at OurType

Here’s a good site with great photos of Tiina in use. Based on the teachings of the Dutch graphic designer and professor of typeface design Gerrit Noordzij, Brustaux created Tiina with the intention of creating a specific rhythm throughout entire blocks of text. Every vertical stem contains a gentle wave, even the lowercase a which has a small dip right above the foot serif. In fact, the designer apparently based most of the alphabet on the lowercase e and n so the rhythm was preserved. With a massive x-height and short descenders, this family can speak loudly even in extremely small sizes. The high quality of OurType foundry ensures it will be an absolutely gorgeous text face. If fine book typography (print or letterpress) is your goal, Tiina would be a fantastic replacement for Perpetua or Joanna.

Tiina Sample 1

Tiina Sample 1

Tiina Sample 2

Tiina Sample 2

Tiina Sample 3

Tiina Sample 3

Tiina Sample 4

Tiina Sample 4

That completes my list of favorite typefaces from 2011 (and 2010). I hope you find your next go-to face in this grouping. What are your favorites from the last year?

New Font Choices in iBooks 1.5 | 52 Tiger

What’s New in iBooks 1.5 | 52 Tiger.

Athelas Sample

Athelas Sample

Dave Caolo gives a nice overview of what’s new in iBooks 1.5. Overall it looks like a good update, but he left it up to the type nerds to chime in on the new typefaces Apple has added — and they’re excellent choices.

Stephen Coles, of FontShop’s FontFeed blog and other type-related sites, listed the major typographic follies of the iPad in April 2010. Type choice was a major problem because they only offered one — and then, spontaneously, two — decent choices for screen fonts: Palatino and Georgia, respectively. The others were the I’ll-never-die-but-I-will-eat-your-brains zombie Times New Roman, IKEA’s-Achilles-heel Verdana, the classic Baskerville, and the part-sharpened-fang, part-wide-molar Cochin.

We can’t say for sure, but it seems Apple heeded the experts in this category because now we have some sure-fire, bona fide, I’m-all-in kind of winners.

The list now includes:

  • Athelas by TypeTogether
  • Charter by Matthew Carter
  • Iowan by John Downer
  • Seravek by Eric Olson

Charter and Iowan seem like logical and somewhat safe choices, but I’m quite impressed by the inclusion of Athelas and Seravek. Athelas does not have stage fright; it has been featured on several readability-centered services, such as Typekit. What Perpetua was to fine book printing and Georgia to reading at the advent of the web, Athelas is to both mediums. And Seravek is a clean, welcoming sans without too much of a distracting voice. Seravek feels like the type that’s been seen before: comfortable, not too flashy. Whereas the choice of, say, Gill Sans would’ve pummeled the reader with it’s way of reading due to Gill’s unmistakeable tone, Seravek is content to let you use the voice that’s already in your head.

TypeTogether launched as a powerhouse font foundry and they haven’t slowed down. Each release garners fresh awards, and each partnership showcases a new type design star. Maiola, Karmina Sans, Skolar, Bree, Givry, Adelle, Ronnia. These have ruled the new designs of the last several years — especially those designs that are specifically focused on type. And they keep forging new relationships with the top grads from each master’s class of their alma mater. On top of that, Gerard Unger, Jupiter himself, has aligned his orbit with TypeTogether’s stellar team.

But don’t think of it as if you have to notice them in order to be in the know; just know that you get to. There’s honor enough in just being alive at a moment when the planets align.

Eric Olson has made a name for himself all by himself. Klavika is one of the quintessential square sans faces, as impacting large as it is legible when small. Bryant is an underused geometric star. Maple is just begging to be a great company logo. (I could see it for Town & Country magazine’s masthead.) His Seravek was a perfect sans choice for long-form reading. I’ve recommended it before.

Seravek Sample

Seravek Sample

Hopefully we’ll see more great decisions like these from Apple and the others who battle for the digital reading category. Right now, this is a great start.

Let’s say five more typefaces were going to be added in the next few months. What would you suggest for extended reading on digital devices, whether e-ink or glass-and-pixels?

UPDATE: Yves Peters has now posted on the update in iBooks.

Nokia Lumia 800: In-Depth 8-Minute Video Documentary

Nokia Lumia 800: In-Depth 8-Minute Video Documentary on YouTube.


A few good things first:

  • The curved glass that can be swiped from the edge is very nice.
  • The large size typography is a great differentiating factor and seems to present quite well.
  • The foreground/background effect is very cool and helps to orient the user as to where they are in the system (1:30, 3:30, 6:20).
  • The shape looks great; that 3.5 inch form factor is the go-to size.

And now for that other category:

  • Love the one-minute mark where he says they worked side-by-side with Apple Cinema Disp—sorry . . . what? He actually said they worked with Microsoft? Well, kick me off a cliff and call me a lemming. I get so confused when my eyes and ears tell me different things.
  • From 2:40–3:20, and this is just a question, why was it necessary for Chis Linnett to tell us how difficult it is for Nokia and Microsoft to work together? How does that raise the consumer’s perception or appreciation for either company? And do you actually have a blink reflex? And . . . theeeeeeeerrrrrrrre it is, at 7:08. Not a robot. Immediately followed by another blink. Now he’s just aiming for the Sir Blinks-A-Lot trophy.
  • It’s odd that “jump right in” means forming a committee to learn how to work together, especially for someone who worked at the other company for 12 years.
  • The neon tiles clash with the body colors that are not black. With such a strong motif like the tiles, it might help to frame it with a simple white, black, or gray for the body.
  • There is a limit to the depth of field focus that can be used without making it look cheesy. And 97% blurry.
  • No, the Lumia 800 is not just a big iPod Mini ’cuz it has slots for stuff.
  • Do we get to see the back of the device? I’m looking for a battery cover.
  • Be warned, Apple: Our antenna will kick your antenna’s butt.
  • I’ve seen more on-screen, reenacted, team collaboration in a movie on solitary confinement. If the narrator says it, show it. Which brings up a thought about that SWAT team . . .

The Sun Also Rises: John Gruber Honors Steve Jobs With Subtlety

It was around 6:30 in the evening that day when my wife sent me a text: Did you know Steve Jobs died today? I was at work, unplugged; I couldn’t have known. I called her to tell her I was already on my way home. I spent that 30 minutes disbelieving, hoping, almost holding my breath till I could confirm once I got home. Headlines and eulogies showed the world in seemingly the same state. A spontaneous moment of silence.

Minimal Mac reversed its theme to a black background with white text. Many words, some echoing similar stories and terms, were published. Shawn Blanc had a few short entries. Steve’s several acts were replayed. News agencies outlined which technologies and industries had been revolutionized. Pundits kept looking foolish with their wrongheaded thoughts. And others pointed that out. WordPress worked through the night to release a retro Mac OS theme and followed it quickly with another dubbed iTheme 2.

But my favorite was John Gruber’s theme change at daringfireball.net. Usually a medium to dark gray background with white text, Gruber changed it to a darker gray/slate color with white text. The contrast was greater and it made the text seem to scream a bit more.

But that wasn’t all. It faded to the original gray as the page was scrolled down. Every few days or week the background got a bit lighter until it was back to its original color. This subtle sunrise said more to me than some of the global words that flowed so freely in those immediate hours and days following. For Steve Jobs, such subtle and simple things seem quite appropriate.

Microsoft Video “Productivity Future Vision”

This video has been making the rounds lately. A few things struck me as I watched:

Microsoft’s Imagined Future of Productivity

  • All text will be written in Gotham.
  • Only Microsoft can come up with such an abstract title.
  • There is no difference between a tap that selects, records, enters a chat, or backtracks. And no one is confused about this.
  • The giant Microsoft table has been replaced with a giant whiteboard on your desk.
  • There are some really great gadgets going on there. And they look like Apple products.
  • The future is filled with iPad- and iPhone-type devices, down to the details — rounded corners, good and neutral typography, gadget dimensions, etc.
  • There are no 4-inch handheld devices in the future, only 3.5-inch devices exactly like the current Apple products.
  • Interfaces can be created on the fly (1:35).
  • Textured backgrounds are important on flat devices (2:52).
  • You can select or tap in the air surrounding the device, but touching the sides does not register any extraneous input.
  • You can select from the back of a device just as you would on the front.
  • Some of that stuff is cool and even helpful. Now make it. Better yet, make it first and then tell me it’s available.
  • Black is still in. And Minority Report is still awesome.
  • The Microsoft Courier has made its comeback, well, at least into the land of vaporware.
  • Overall, I can’t imagine Microsoft actually doing most of this, if any at all. For goodness’ sake, we still don’t have the Surface, but we’re stuck with the Ribbon.
  • There is little difference between 3D and 2D, even in interaction.
  • The “pause” of holding your hand in a certain position while you wait for your tablet computer to do its thing apparently takes four seconds (4:34–4:37). Whose idea was it to pause the video of the girl so the polar bear can do its thing?
  • Mommy doesn’t wear her wedding ring on business trips.
  • Siri is a main and natural part of our technology interaction.
  • Even with the door of the fridge closed, it still takes forever to decide what to eat.
  • How is my fridge going to be run by Microsoft Office?
  • Did I mention the Gotham typeface? Because that can’t be overstated.

Paula Scher Makes Up With Helvetica? | Typography Commentary | Typographica

Paula Scher Makes Up With Helvetica? | Typography Commentary | Typographica.

I realize this is an old article, but I thought it worth mentioning that Scher has answered this question several times: She originally designed the HP templates with Gotham, but H& F-J wouldn’t agree to embedding it due to the probability that it would get ripped off; they didn’t want that since it was/is their top-selling typeface. Thus, Helvetica was her choice.

However, that still doesn’t answer: Why not use something else? To my knowledge she has not answered that question sufficiently. She just says it was “the obvious choice” for the requirements. And I can understand that.

Something else strikes me, though. Why have very few gotten upset at Apple’s templates in Pages? Sure, they’re better, but it’s the same theory — democratizing design sans the individualized partnership with the designer. Does the same sentiment exist concerning Apple?

Most will not pay for a designer, but would still like a professional look for their business. And many just can’t afford it now; they may be in the beginning stages, so they teach themselves, and often that starts with studying work that is already well done, such as a template designed by a professional. I’m okay with that for a short season. Hopefully the time will come when they realize they need to progress past that initial and elementary step.

Steve Jobs (1955–2011)

You can find his quotes across the web, and his fans and detractors all have something to say. Even the terms describing Steve Jobs have become repetitive: genius, brash, visionary, thief, popularizer, secretive about his personal life, minimalist, praising Apple and its people effusively in public but driving them relentlessly in private, fantastic salesman, boom. Journalists have tried to tie his name to their byline, but their stated facts are all the same and most just don’t have anything worthwhile to say.

I probably don’t either. I just want to honor someone who built a legacy and I don’t know another way except to write it.

I got my first Apple laptop on 11 August 2004. It was a 15-inch PowerBook G4 and it was spectacular. I spent the first two weeks learning it and then tweaking it. Thanks to David Pogue’s book for new Mac owners, I wasted at least a full day once I found out that it could tell me knock-knock jokes. The screen hinge broke, but it’s 2011 and I still have that laptop; a piece of me almost hopes I always will. Almost.

Apple has moved on to create better things and I’m certain I can happily move on with them. I don’t have to own frustrating crap just to feel like I have a “real computer”. Steve Jobs knew that, and he built a team that could make simplicity, beauty, and excellence a reality.

He also knew he didn’t have long to live. The best ones always live with their end in mind. Read the Psalms and Marcus Aurelius to get a feel for what that looks and sounds like.

There’s a short moment that has stuck with me from one of Apple’s famous product events. I remember it because it was such an odd kind of aside to discuss. On 15 January 2008, Steve Jobs took the stage as the Macworld keynote speaker to introduce the second iteration of Apple TV, called Take Two. Amidst the walkthrough of features and how awesome it was, he stopped to plug a practically unknown Canadian film from Lionsgate, titled Away From Her (2006). I hadn’t seen it, so I watched it with my wife that week. In it a husband loses his wife to Alzheimer’s, a loss too great and encompassing to do it justice with weak words. I thought everything about the film was superb; it is intimately human; I felt given and drained of hope intermittently; I ascended and descended with the story of a drastically changing life, when the characters expected only a steady coasting into their twilight. This film allowed me to feel something particular in such a deep way that I wept with my wife — for my wife — for our future together — for almost an hour afterwards.

Because of his relationship with certain studios, Jobs always plugs the latest work from Pixar and ABC (they are the same company), along with 20th Century Fox.

But this mention was a stark anomaly. Jobs had the slides, so it was obviously purposeful and, due to the themes in the film, I believe it was quite personal. You can even hear a little pause when he speaks about it. I believe he connected with it in a way he would not say from the stage, but which he could not deny. It was important enough that the intensely private CEO brought it into the public. (Start at the 3:00 mark. And, no, I don’t know why the audio is completely out of sync.)

I didn’t know Steve Jobs when he was alive and I know a company cannot be a bionic pal, but I’m glad both existed. So, to me, these emotions — from the joyful liberation that is possible within technology, to what is possible when art helps us feel and connect with what is priority — are what defines Apple as a company and helps me to understand Steve Jobs a bit better as a regular guy.

Our prayers are with his family and friends who have been most deeply effected through his life and in his death.

Adobe Acquires Typekit: First Thoughts

Since I began work on a major opinion article about Typekit, they were acquired by Adobe. These are just initial thoughts; the main article is still to come.

There are of course good and bad sides to the acquisition, as felt from the two distinct tones taken in the comments on Typekit’s announcement.

Adobe Acquires Typekit

Adobe Acquires Typekit

The good is that the Typekit team deserves every accolade that could possibly be lavished on them. Adobe brings with them an infusion of cash and big-name confidence to push web fonts forward. The bad is the list of concerns: that Adobe will adorn their chef’s hat and mess up Typekit’s great recipe; that Typekit’s catalog will be flooded with poor choices; that Adobe will be promoted above other foundries the way Google puts results that favor themselves first; that Typekit may gradually become a storefront for Adobe’s catalog; that the entire process may become more complicated the way Adobe’s software is.

Without being specific, in the comments Tim Brown and Mandy Brown have promised these concerns are unfounded. (Though, a few lines from Tim in the comments seem to have vanished since this morning.) Mandy explains:

“I can assure you our commitment to Typekit is not about to be erased. By trusting in us, you also trust our decision to join Adobe, and our ability to continue improving on our service in the coming weeks and months. I, for one, don’t believe our users are about to run for the hills. I do think they will be watching us carefully, and that they have very high expectations for where we are headed. And we will do everything we can to meet and exceed those expectations, just as we always have.”

My initial thought when I received Typekit’s email was, “Oh, crap. If Adobe’s taking over, they’re gonna mess it up.” But we are assured Adobe is not taking over. All the good and none of the bad from such a partnership — the Typekit team stays together, web fonts move ahead, and Adobe avails their considerable support rather than totalitarianism. Good. As Mandy put it, I am hopeful but aware.

Now what if a different company had acquired Typekit? What would our reaction have been if it were Google, Microsoft, Apple, Mozilla, WordPress, or FontShop? As someone with a small interest in Typekit, here are some pertinent questions:

  • What have been their successes and failures in the past ten years?
  • What category of business are they known for: software, hardware, type, client- or server-side service, sales, gaming, aggregation, search, advertising, content services?
  • Was the acquisition a short-term tactic or a long-term direction for the company?
  • Will they cultivate Typekit for the long haul, or are they just mining personal information and making a buck before they move on?
  • Are they trying to lock users into a niche system, or are they figuring out ways to make the service faster, more reliable, easier, more ubiquitous — more accessible in other words?

For Adobe and Typekit, the acquisition makes a lot of sense. To me, it would have made a bit more sense — and I would have felt better about it — had it been FontShop or Apple. But that doesn’t matter now. I love Typekit and I’m staying with them until they go out of their way to prove me wrong. And I’ll still recommend them highly to any who will listen. The experience is smooth, the typefaces are superb, the support is great, the uptime is guaranteed, and your web mojo is, too. I read that in the fine print. I promise.

Stay tuned for a crazy thought about Typekit which is now pretty much guaranteed to not happen.