Apple drops Helvetica for San Francisco in iOS 9

Posted:
in iPhone edited October 2015
The launch of Apple's iOS 9 mobile operating system officially brings its bespoke San Francisco typeface to the rest of its product lineup, as Helvetica's short run has come to a close.


Helvetica on iOS 8, left, and San Francisco on iOS 9, right


San Francisco is used throughout iOS 9, and also brings along a slightly tweaked keyboard design. The new keyboard switches between upper and lowercase keycaps, depending on the position of the shift key.

Overall, the move to San Francisco softens iOS's appearance slightly thanks to the new typeface's friendlier design. It's also easier to read in many instances than Helvetica, a welcome change for users who have complained about the thin lines since iOS 7.


iOS 9's new keyboard switches between lowercase and uppercase based on the position of the shift key.


Apple developed San Francisco for the Apple Watch, but hints that it would eventually expand past that product have been surfacing since its introduction. Notably, the new 12-inch MacBook uses San Francisco as the typeface on its keyboard.

iOS 9 is now available on iPhone 4s, iPad 2, fifth-generation iPod touch, and newer models.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 118
    bocboc Posts: 72member
    It is easy for young designers not to think of how older people with limited vision deal with difficult type faces.

    Toyota used to make their designers wear glasses smeared with vaseline to let them see if they could operate controls inside of Toyota vehicle mockups.
  • Reply 2 of 118
    thewhitefalconthewhitefalcon Posts: 4,453member
    Genuinely surprised Apple did the adjusting keyboard type.
  • Reply 3 of 118
    Do shift keys still blow?
  • Reply 4 of 118
    tyler82tyler82 Posts: 802member
    Innovative.
  • Reply 5 of 118
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,837member
    Yesssssss! (or should I say, "YESSSSSSSS!"?)
  • Reply 6 of 118
    I can't tell the difference. What's the point?

    From what I understand you change something because there's a noticeable difference.
  • Reply 7 of 118
    almondrocaalmondroca Posts: 179member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Silver Shadow View Post



    I can't tell the difference. What's the point?



    From what I understand you change something because there's a noticeable difference.

     

    If you can't tell the difference, then you just move on. Others can tell the difference, which is why it was changed.

  • Reply 8 of 118
    jbdragonjbdragon Posts: 2,034member
    Genuinely surprised Apple did the adjusting keyboard type.

    It's about time, it' was long over due. Why it wasn't all this time?
  • Reply 9 of 118
    almondroca wrote: »
    If you can't tell the difference, then you just move on. Others can tell the difference, which is why it was changed.

    Exactly, why make a big deal about it when almost no one will notice.
  • Reply 10 of 118
    sofabuttsofabutt Posts: 99member
    I'm sure Apple has escaped some sort of licensing fee by adding an extra curve here and there for their new fan dangled unnecessary font...
  • Reply 11 of 118
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,421member

    I'm an older guy who wears glasses, but I think I still prefer Helvetica over San Francisco.   The thinner lines make it more elegant, IMO.

     

    I'm glad to see that upper/lower case keyboard change.  Jobs always said that the reason why the iPhone didn't have a physical keyboard was so the keyboard could change depending upon what you were doing, but the keyboard didn't change as you moved from lower to upper case or back (except for the Shift key).    And I always found the highlighting of the Shift key to be totally non-intuitive.  If the regular state of the keyboard is lower case, why is the shift key grey for lower case and white (like the rest of the keyboard) for upper case?  That never made sense to me.   At least now, the alpha keys themselves will declare the current state.

  • Reply 12 of 118
    thewhitefalconthewhitefalcon Posts: 4,453member
    sofabutt wrote: »
    I'm sure Apple has escaped some sort of licensing fee by adding an extra curve here and there for their new fan dangled unnecessary font...

    Licensing fees for a font they created?
  • Reply 13 of 118
    Time for the AppleInsider website to finally get rid of the too tightly spaced Helvetica Light typeface in the small texts.
  • Reply 14 of 118
    Exactly, why make a big deal about it when almost no one will notice.

    I don recall Apple making a big deal out of it. I don't think they even mentioned it in the keynote.
  • Reply 15 of 118
    It looks awesome in those screenshots.
  • Reply 16 of 118
    satchmosatchmo Posts: 2,699member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by zoetmb View Post

     

    I'm an older guy who wears glasses, but I think I still prefer Helvetica over San Francisco.   The thinner lines make it more elegant, IMO.

     


     

    A Ferrari has nicer lines and more elegant than a Honda, but not very practical for most people.

     

    Yes, I get what you're saying. That's why Helvetica is a classic...but is not optimized for small screen devices i.e. watch

    In this case, usability trumps aesthetics. And it's not like San Francisco font is garish. 

  • Reply 17 of 118
    thewhitefalconthewhitefalcon Posts: 4,453member
    satchmo wrote: »
    A Ferrari has nicer lines and more elegant than a Honda, but not very practical for most people.

    Yes, I get what you're saying. That's why Helvetica is a classic...but is not optimized for small screen devices i.e. watch
    In this case, usability trumps aesthetics. And it's not like San Francisco font is garish. 

    It's no Comic Sans. :D
  • Reply 18 of 118
    ralphmouthralphmouth Posts: 192member

    Very disappointed. I was hoping Apple would change the system font to Wing Dings.

  • Reply 19 of 118
    larz2112larz2112 Posts: 266member

    If Apple really wants to improve legibility and the user experience, they should enforce a minimum point size rule for app developers. Some of the text is so ridiculously small that it causes me eyestrain. When I was a graphic designer there was an unspoken rule that no type gets set under 8 pts if you really expect anyone to read it. It seems like a lot of app developers don't really give a damn about legibility. They'll just keep making the text as tiny as possible so that they can cram it all in one spot.

  • Reply 20 of 118
    boltsfan17boltsfan17 Posts: 2,157member

    I must need glasses because I can't see the difference. Regardless of that, I'm still looking forward to iOS 9. 

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