FontBook, A New Way Of Looking At Type

The FontBook app for iPad offers far more comprehensive type specimens than the printed edition, with several layers of information for each featured typeface. Here’s an overview of the different types of specimens.

You can purchase the FontBook app for iPad in the iTunes App Store.

The initial screen is a type poster on a grid background, showing different styles from the typeface family at different sizes. Subsequent levels of information can be accessed by swiping from right to left, like opening drawers. The left column holds basic information about the type design (yellow area), related type families, other typefaces by the same type designer(s), and similar designs.

The second screen is subdivided in three horizontal areas; from top to bottom a “headline” area, a “deck” area, and a “body copy” area.

The type styles displayed in each area can be changed manually by vertical swiping.

Tapping the Play button in the yellow circle activates an animation which automatically alternates type styles in each area.

The third screen displays a list with two-line showings of each style in the type family: a pangram with the full alphabet underneath. Drag the screen upwards to see the remainder of the styles.

The fourth screen shows a block of body copy for each style in the type family. Drag the screen upwards to see the remainder of the styles.

The fifth screen displays the complete character set of the typeface. Drag the screen upwards to discover the rest of the characters.

The sixth and final screen lists all the available information about the typeface – designer, library, release date, number of sub families, font weights, glyphs per font, and trademark.

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  1. This app looks good, but only once you are deep inside and have spent hours setting up favourites. The starting off pages are hopelessly awful! You choose a basic style – okay. But then you see a mess of tiles with just two letters. One cap “R” and lower “g”. That’s not enough to get a feel for a typeface! Then when you click on a likely “Rg” you get taken to the designer’s page with a whole lot of unrelated styles. If you search alphabetically, you get a another mass of unrelated fonts whose names start with the same letter … okay if you are looking for a named font, but again useless for browsing and inspirational purposes. Designers? Years? Foundaries? Not where I want to get started. Classes: this looks better, but I want to browse with the quick brown fox, not Rg. I would like to be able to scroll through similar styles showing a single line of at least 15-20 letter samples. The front end needs to be more like the traditional printed type book. It takes too long to get to the animated page. How do I get my money back?

    Posted by Martin Wright on Jul. 28, 2011
  2. Maybe wait for the upcoming updates? This is only version 1.0 which has been received very enthusiastically so far, and there are quite a few substantial improvements in the works.

    Posted by Yves Peters on Jul. 28, 2011
  3. Hang in there, Yves. The web has no shortage of angry perfectionists, as seen above, but the good news is that it does have a great shortage of useful typography apps. This is a nice one. Keep it going!

    Posted by Charlie Pratt on Aug. 2, 2011
  4. Promising app but it is really frustrating that i can’t explore the fonts using my own text instead of this useless word “rag”

    Posted by Anthony Z. on Oct. 13, 2013

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