Say Hello to San Francisco, the Free Font Apple Designed for its Watch

By Kate Knibbs on at

We've known for a while that the Apple Watch has a brand-new custom font designed by Apple, but now it has a name: San Francisco.

Nestled within Apple's human interface guide for the upcoming smartwatch are the details on the new sans serif font, which Apple is giving away for free:

The system font was designed specifically for legibility on Apple Watch. At large sizes, the font's slightly condensed letters are set tight to take up less horizontal space. But at small sizes, they are spaced more loosely and have bigger apertures in glyphs like 'a' and 'e' to make these easier to read at a glance. Punctuation is also proportionally larger when the font gets smaller. And as text size changes, Apple Watch dynamically switches between fonts to maintain clarity and legibility at all times.

Say Hello to San Francisco, the Free Font Apple Designed For Its Watch

Developers will be able to choose between a "Regular" San Francisco or a "Display" version, depending how big their font is. They'll also be able to use custom fonts if they really hate the squat, utilitarian typeface.

Aside from Myriad, the corporate font released in 2001, Apple hasn't created custom fonts regularly since the early '90s, so the decision to ditch the iPhone 6's thin Helvetica for something specifically designed for the Apple Watch's petite screen is a throwback design move. San Francisco isn't a necessarily pretty invention, but if it maximises legibility, it could have a long life on the smallest screens. [The Next Web]