Is Apple Watch’s San Francisco font heading for iOS and OS X?

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Apple began using Helvetica Neue as its system font with the launch of iOS 7 in 2013 before taking it to Mac computers running OS X 10.10 Yosemite the following year. Now the company looks set to switch again for iOS 9 and OS X 10.11.

In an effort to bring a single, easy-to-read font to all of its operating systems, the tech giant is preparing to roll out its custom-designed San Francisco typeface to its entire range of computing devices, 9to5Mac reported this week.

The font, which has a tiny bit less space between letters compared to Helvetica Neue, is already used by the Apple Watch, and was designed specifically for the smaller displays of the wrist-worn device.

On its developer site, Apple says the smartwatch’s font was created “specifically for legibility,” with its “slightly condensed letters [taking up] up less horizontal space.”

In addition, San Francisco’s design ensures letters such as ‘a’ and ‘e’ are easier to read at a glance, and results in punctuation that is proportionally larger as the font decreases in size.

Besides the Apple Watch, San Francisco is also used for the lettering on the keyboard of the recently released 12-inch MacBook.

9to5Mac’s tipster said Apple executives believe the font will have the effect of refreshing its operating systems, “helping iOS and OS X to avoid becoming stale.”

But some engineers at the company have reportedly voiced concern about the change, suggesting San Francisco “may look particularly rough on non-Retina screens.”

The switch to San Francisco is expected to be announced at Apple’s annual WWDC gathering, which kicks off on June 8 – in San Francisco.


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