The world of web typography got exciting a little while ago when Google unveiled it’s easy-to-use Google Font directory. The idea is a great one – a collection of web fonts that are served on Google’s powerful servers, and all you need is to include a CSS link.
There was one major drawback that kept me from wanting to jump in with both feet, however:
The web fonts in the Google Font directory won’t work on iPhones or iPads.
UPDATE: Google Fonts work perfectly well on iOS devices using iOS 4 and up.
The technical reason for this is because Google Fonts don’t have an SVG version. At this time, iOS devices only support SVG web fonts. I’m still not sure which side will bend first so that some form of support exists.
But, in what was a blindingly obvious revelation, I thought to check Font Squirrel and it’s directory of @font-face kits.
If you want to use Google Fonts, but want to include iOS devices, you just need to link to the Google Font per normal. Then have a locally hosted version of the SVG font, which is available from Font Squirrel and their kits.
I haven’t worked out the CSS code for this yet, but will update when I do.
I did check the Google Font directory agains what is available at Font Squirrel. All of the Google Fonts are there (with SVG versions) EXCEPT for two fonts, and one is a biggie. The two that are missing are IM Fell and Reenie Beanie.
IM Fell’s absence hurts, as it’s a beautiful font, and has a lot of variants. I’m not clear yet on weather or not you couldn’t just generate an SVG version of it from the Font Squirrel.
So apparently the new Google Fonts project does not include the SVG font format. What does that mean?
The beautiful custom web fonts won’t work on the iPad, iPhone or iPod touch.
All that means is that users on those devices willl see you fallback fonts instead.
This saddens me, as I’ve lately been doing more and more of my casual surfing on an iPad. I think that the web is about to become a much more visually interresting place, and I’ll be missing out on it.
So the question is: who blinks first? Apple and Google are becoming cutthroat competitors, so I’m not sure if there will ever be a happy solution for users.
Ultimately, I’d like to see Apple add the support to their mobile Safari browsers than the other way around. I think that is better for the development community at large, and will benefit the users the most in the long term.
That didn’t take long.
It is encouraging to see the new Google Fonts offering being embraced by the web design community, and also by the larger open source community.
What’s remarkable has been the almost universal praise this project has received.
What I’m most excited to see is how the library of fonts expands. I’m still unclear on how it’s curated, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think that there could two or three times the amount of fonts in a year’s time.