Getting Web Fonts to Look Fantastic on iPhone and iPad Devices


Steve Lee in Archive on September 23, 2010

Many Web designers have been asking how we support iPhone® and iPad® devices using our Web Fonts service. These devices are known for superior display quality, and as our testing and usage have shown, there’s no exception when it comes to Web fonts. The iPhone 4, for example, with its 960-by-640-pixel resolution at 326 ppi (higher than early laser printers), renders text that is simply stunning. Web fonts really shine when zooming to see content up close, thanks to their amazing sharpness and clarity.

Our approach to Mobile Safari® support can be summed up in two words: simplicity and control.

“Simplicity” is often difficult to achieve, but we’re committed to giving Web designers an elegant solution that’s also very easy to use. Second (and maybe more important), we believe it’s essential to provide designers with control over how they assign their fonts. Specifically, we think designers should have the freedom to assign CSS selectors according to their own associations for bold, italic, light, condensed, heavy, ultra and other styles.

Why is this so important? The Helvetica® typeface family, for example, contains more than 50 fonts (weights) in our Web font solution. It certainly made sense to us to leave the CSS selector assignments up to the designer. Yet, believe it or not, we reached that conclusion after much debate. We understood that by predefining CSS declarations behind the scenes, we could offer convenience to users because the work would already be done. However, we also knew we’d be making subjective decisions, so total flexibility won in the end. Control belongs in the hands of designers.

We also have a hunch that by keeping our solution simple, and by enabling designers to assign their own CSS selectors, we’ve been able to retain consistent, browser stability using Mobile Safari. I guess one could argue that as being the most important aspect of all.

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