Category Archives: Industrial design

Apple releases San Francisco typeface

San Francisco / Apple, 2014

San Francisco / Apple, 2014

With the announcement of the Apple Watch a few months ago, the type nerds among us noticed a serious new direction from Apple in terms of design & UI — a brand new typeface. It wasn’t Myriad (their corporate face since around 2000) or Helvetica (used throughout iOS since the iPhone launched in ’07). It looked a lot like the German classic DIN, but softer and friendlier. I quite liked it.

A few days ago they released WatchKit so that developers can start to prepare apps for when the watch is released early next year. Part of that kit contains a font called San Francisco, which comes in two versions, Display and Text, and plenty of weights per version. There are 23 variations in total. You can download them all here.

I have to credit Apple for finally doing what so many designers have called for in recent years – spending the time and effort to create a decent typeface, and one they can call their own. It’s obvious they’ve put a lot of effort into this one, adjusting the spacing as the font decreases in size, to maximise legibility on that tiny watch screen. It always bugged me that the iPhone and iOS never got the same treatment. I mean, Helvetica is fine, but it was designed in the 50s, It was never meant to be seen at just a few pixels tall.

I’m interested to see where they go from here. My main concern is that they just switched the system font in OS X to Helvetica, after 10+ years of Lucida Grande. I get that it brings the Mac more in-line with iOS, but it really doesn’t work that well at the tiny sizes a desktop OS demands, especially on a non-retina screen. With the release of San Francisco, they might find themselves in a bit of a muddle. 3 typefaces is definitely too many (and that’s without counting VAG which they still use on Mac keyboards…)

If it were up to me, I’d make sure San Francisco was absolutely perfect, then roll it out as the system font for all products – Watch, iOS, and Mac. (It’s worth noting that somebody’s already worked out how to replace Helvetica with SF on Yosemite). Then for branding and corporate communications, I’d definitely bin Myriad, it’s looking more tired than ever. Maybe SF could be the corporate face as well, although something with a slightly different flavour might complement it. Re-branding Apple, now there’s a fun project for my spare time.

As a side note, many have already pointed out that Apple released a typeface called San Francisco some 30 years ago. It was pretty cool.

San_Francisco_84

 

 

Vitsœ video

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Tidy Up Your Life / Definitely No Robots

Two stunningly beautiful films from Vitsœ. Watch them now, and prepare to start lusting after shelves.

Tidy Up Your Life

Definitely No Robots

Pacific iF folding bike

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iF Mode folding bike / Pacific Cycles, 2012

Officially the coolest bike I have ever seen – the iF Mode by Pacific Cycles. You need to see video of this thing in action, such impressive engineering.

Manual rethink US road signage

US road signage rethink / Manual, 2012

Great project by San Francisco-based Manual – rethinking the US road signage system. I love it when designers approach such enormous and seemingly impossible tasks. I’d be interested to see if implementing this could ever be achieved. That’s a whole lot of signs to re-make.

BMW Art Drive

BMW 3.0 CSL / Alexander Calder, 1975

A great exhibition currently open in Shoreditch – Art Drive showcases 17 BMW cars given makeovers by some very important artists, like this absolute beauty from Alexander Calder in 1975.

Boxx

Boxx / Boxxcorp, 2012

This awesome-looking electric scooter may look like a concept, but seemingly it is actually real! Buy here for $3,995.

Bell & Ross Time Instruments

(Top) BR 01 92 Turn Coordinator

(Centre) BR 01 92 Radar

(Above) BR 01 92 Horizon

I’m not usually much of a ‘watch person’, but these outrageously nice Aviation watches from French brand Bell & Ross are just stunning.

At around £4,000 a go, I’ll just add them to the ever-growing list of really nice stuff I’ll never own. Sigh.