iOS 4.2 improves support for web fonts

November 23, 2010

Update: The latest on Typekit’s support for iOS devices can be found here Also, we are now serving TrueType fonts to iOS 4.2 devices.

With yesterday’s release of iOS 4.2, a frustrating Mobile Safari bug has been resolved: previously, Mobile Safari would crash if more than one weight or style of a font was loaded. This bug has been repaired in iOS 4.2, so that users of the iPhone, iPod, or iPad who update their device will no longer experience crashing.

This is great news, and as a result we are updating our support for iOS. Currently, support for iOS is disabled by default; starting in two weeks (on December 6th), support for iOS devices will be enabled by default. You will still have the option of disabling it if you choose, but every new kit created will have iOS turned on. (Note that this change does not affect settings in your existing kits — only in newly created kits.)

Additionally, we have decided to drop support for older versions of iOS. Also starting on December 6th, we will no longer send fonts to versions of iOS prior to 4.2. Dropping support for a browser is not something we take lightly; but we believe the crashing bug is so offensive as to make supporting these browsers untenable. No one should ever experience a browser crash because of a web font; and we are taking this step to make sure that they never will.

What does this mean for you? It means that older versions of iOS will see your sites with the fallback fonts rather than Typekit fonts. We recommend that you use Font Events to take full control over the fallback scenario, so that your site looks just as effective with those fonts as it does when the Typekit fonts are enabled. Doing so will also ensure a good experience for users who visit from older browsers, as well as for those who have disabled web fonts. This is a smart, progressive enhancement practice, no matter which devices are supported now or in the future.

iOS 4.2 is also the first version of Mobile Safari to support native web fonts (in TrueType format) instead of SVG. This is also exciting news, as TrueType fonts are superior to SVG fonts in two very important ways: the files sizes are dramatically smaller (an especially important factor on mobile devices), and the rendering quality is much higher. We are currently updating our testing suite to evaluate how well TrueType fonts perform in Mobile Safari; once we’ve confirmed that they do in fact work effectively, we will begin sending TrueType fonts to iOS devices. Look for more updates on this change in the near future.

As always, if you have any questions about what these changes mean for your site, or if you need help working with Font Events, please drop a line to support@typekit.com.

11 Responses to “iOS 4.2 improves support for web fonts”

  1. Dustin Senos Says:

    Awesome news. I remember a time (not so long ago…) where we had to cut up Photoshop files to have pretty type on the web. Thank you for changing this for us! And in mobile devices to boot. Incredible.


  2. I would humbly request you reconsider dropping support for anything lower than 4.2. It wasn’t a consistent bug by any means and worked about 75% of the time without any trouble. While Apple nerds are quick to update their software, there are ton of new iPad users that don’t have a clue about the update. I don’t think it’s necessary to continue developing for anything under 4.2, but please at least give us the option of keeping it on.


  3. AWESOME! Previously I had integrated TypeKit and flipped on iPad support. Then, whenever I was presenting to clients with iPad in tow, it would crash. So, I had to flip support off so that I could do business.

    I upgrade our families iDevices to iOS 4.2 yesterday and just tested web fonts on the iPad. Works like a charm with no issues. I am using two fonts with two different weights each. Support for iDevices will now remain on.

    Thanks so much for tweeting the blog post. I never would have known otherwise.

  4. Eric Says:

    What about Opera Mobile (both 10.1 for Symbian & 10.1 for Android)?
    Or Opera in general (at least Opera 11)? Are there still issues with Opera? And if yes, what are these issues and what is done to resolve them? And are those issues cross-platform or tied to a specific OS?

    It would be nice to finally get some Opera love from Typekit team…


  5. I’ve been anxiously awaiting this post ever since I found that iOS 4.2 supports TTF webfonts. Thanks for the update!

    For what it’s worth, I’m glad to hear you’re dropping support for iOS versions prior to 4.2. I’d hate to have to continue to design around the crashing bug.

  6. jonthebeef Says:

    While there’s some good here, I think the decision to not support 4.1 and below is pretty disgusting. We’ve been aware of the safari bug for a while, and have arranged our font-stacks AROUND this while a better solution is sought. It’s not just about progressive enhancement, but striking that balance with graceful degradation. Without the support below 4.2, this means we have to work with YET ANOTHER font issue, which, as a net result, makes services like typekit less appealing. Why should the owner of a device with an older OS all of a sudden not see our careful, meticulous layouts not as intended. And to this end, why should we continue to pay for a service which doesn’t service our needs even partially, despite our grappling?

    • Mandy Brown Says:

      Typekit serves better than 97% of browsers and devices, and while that that pesky 3% will get smaller over time, it will never be zero. As such, there will always be instances when web fonts fail to load, so taking care to design the fallback scenario makes good sense. And we’ve given you extra tools to take control over that scenario.

  7. James Issac Says:

    Great work done by Apple in the new iOS 4.2 now i guess i wont Be facing browser crash problem ever.

    thanx for sharing.

  8. Richard Fink Says:

    Dropping support for a browser is not something we take lightly; but we believe the crashing bug is so offensive as to make supporting these browsers untenable. No one should ever experience a browser crash because of a web font; and we are taking this step to make sure that they never will.

    Everybody’s entitled to change their mind in light of experience. (I do so every other minute, or so it seems, lately.)

    But this does beg the question of why Typekit provided suppport for something “so offensive” to begin with, doesn’t it?

    So, is this Typekit’s new policy going forward? Should browser makers take from this the message that buggy @font-face support – in Typekit’s judgment – equals no fonts from Typekit?
    And if so, what are the guidelines?

    Rich

    • Goobi Says:

      Typekit on iOS has been an experimental feature, disabled by default. I think it’s commendable the company has the foresight to mark that as an experimental feature and not just say “We support iPad!”.

      I bet you by the end of the month over 90% of users will be running 4.2, the rest of which obviously don’t care whether your website has web fonts or not.

  9. Richard Fink Says:

    @goobi
    I bet you by the end of the month over 90% of users will be running 4.2, the rest of which obviously don’t care whether your website has web fonts or not.
    Not the point of my questions, but the rate at which iPhone, iPad, and iPod users have upgraded in the past would be very useful to know. Considering that an OS upgrade takes about an hour – it’s not your ordinary bug patch – I’m willing to bet that you’re very, very wrong.
    Anybody have facts? My search turned up nothing reliable.

    Rich


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