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Introducing Instapaper 4.1 for iPhone, iPad (marco.org)
133 points by evanwalsh 2040 days ago | hide | past | web | 57 comments | favorite

These typefaces are so great. He's actually one-upped Readability, which uses H&FJ faces exclusively, and makes hay of that. H&FJ is one of the great typography design houses in the world, but the net result of Readability's implementation is... quirky; nobody in the world wants to read large amounts of body text set in Vitesse!

(And I love Vitesse; it's my slide deck font now.)

Marco wrote a blog post recently saying he had trouble getting responses from type designers, but what he managed to pull off here is a survey of some of the best reading faces in the world, ranging from venerable (FF Meta) to brand new (Elena).

Vitesse looks great. I might be interested in using it for my slide decks, too.

I'm wondering about the licensing model, though... When I go to buy it, pricing depends on the number of CPUS. If I were to buy this font and use it in a slide deck, could I publish it after the conference?

In their FAQ, they say:

Our end-user font licenses allow only the production of Workflow PDFs, not Public PDFs. For organizations that need to circulate PDFs more widely, we offer an Embedding License as a supplemental product. For more information, please contact our sales office at info@typography.com.


Font licensing seems complicated. I just want a font that I can use to produce beautiful slides, display them on a screen in front of a large audience, and print them / share them after the talk.

You can't share the font software with your audience, and since the only good way to share a slide deck with an audience is PDF (otherwise you'd literally have to share the font itself alongside the deck), and PDF embeds the font, you can't share a basic PDF either.

So, couple things:

(a) You can just not share the deck at all. That's my strategy. Slide decks suck. Sharing them also dilutes the value of your talk; a single talk can be given more than once, as long as you don't publish it.

(b) You can ignore the license. Many other people do that. You are unlikely to get burned by the H&FJ police for doing that. One imagines H&FJ is much more concerns about agencies and big companies accidentally publishing their whole font library in their professional PDFs.

(c) You can, instead of designing your talk in Keynote, design it in Illustrator (bonus: Illustrator is way better), slice the slides up on artboards, convert the type into outlines (a 1-click operation in AI), export them to individual PDFs, pull them into Keynote, and share that.

Thanks a lot for the detailed reply. I think the best strategy for me is option (c).

I agree that slide decks suck as a sharing medium (unless you go to the trouble of adding "notes" under each slide, and share that, but then you're better off sharing a different document). Martin Fowler puts it very well in this post: http://martinfowler.com/bliki/Slideument.html

I can see how sharing a slide deck would dilute the value of a talk. At the same time, sharing my slides lets me reach more people. They might learn more by watching the talk, but it's a trade-off.

There's also the question of the legality of sharing these slides on websites such as InfoQ or Parleys, where the slides are synchronized with the video. But I guess option (c) could work for these.

http://www.infoq.com/presentations/Are-We-There-Yet-Rich-Hic... http://www.parleys.com/#st=5&id=2103&sl=2

One thing to note is that converting to outlines will essentially change the text to an 'image'. So it's like looking at a jpeg of text - it won't be able to be highlighted, copied etc. (I'm sure there was a better way to word that, but the terminology escapes me)

Given how it's a slide deck, this probably isn't a big deal for distribution. But if it's important to you, I'm sure you can OCR the final product, and that wouldn't end up embedding the fonts. Unfortunately that's sort of a roundabout process.

It's true that you can't treat the type as text anymore (if you can select it, it's probably not OK to share the file), but, importantly, you can scale it to any size with perfect fidelity. That's what you don't get in any process involving round-tripping through a JPG.

This is surely an annoying process bound to put anyone off of commercial typography... unless you're already typesetting your presentations in Illustrator. Which, admittedly, I haven't been doing. But now that I think about it: I do a lot of stuff in Illustrator, and Illustrator is so. much. better. than Keynote.

Good point about not being able to copy/paste the final text.

I don't understand why I should OCR the final output, though, since I already have access to the "raw" text. If I were to OCR it and generate a new PDF, I'm back to square one, since I'd need to specify a font. Unless you meant that some people might want to OCR my public PDF to access the underlying text, since it only contains images?

In the end, I guess I'll simply use a font with a more permissive licence (free or commercial).

What about exporting the Keynote to JPGs, and then putting the JPGs into a new Keynote and exporting as PDF?

Similar difficulty as AI, but lower quality result.

If I'm going to spend a couple hundred bucks on a typeface, I'm not going to share it in JPG format.

I really think the best option is just not sharing slides. Your talk is your talk, not your visual aids.

You can export as PNG as well.

Acrobat allows you to embed a subset of the font in the PDF. For a large enough document, most of the glyphs end up embedded anyway, but at least there's no packaged font file that can be installed from the PDF.

I'm pretty sure you're still violating their license by embedding a subset of the glyphs. You're not allowed to embed them at all. If you're going to share documents with HF&J fonts, make sure they've been converted to dumb outlines.

It looks like Readability doesn't quite like this new feature in Instapaper. From Timothy Meaney, part of Arc90, parent company of Readability:

@marcoarment congrats Marco, great idea out of nowhere to up your game re: typography. Out of nowhere!!

Interesting, considering Readabilty's app is a complete ripoff of the one-man-company Instapaper.

Marco mentioned their lovely fonts as the impetus for the change: http://www.marco.org/2012/03/08/learning-from-competition

Edit: Even without that context, it seems petulant & rude.

Marco said everything that needed to be said. Meaney should have kept smugly quiet.

  "I wish someone had kicked my complacent ass about fonts sooner."

He also mentioned on his podcast that he's been thinking about fonts for a long time, but licensing models for apps are complicated. Forget the details, but I think Readability may have caused him to revisit the issue and find it's now feasible with some negotiation.

Reading some of the follow up tweets, @chrisdary, CTO of Readability and a partner of arc90 has separated himself from those opinions.

Those comments were very surprising to me, and not just because Marco gave the nod to Readability about fonts. Marco and Readability have both publicly acknowledged each others products and at one point they were approaching a working relationship with each other. It all appeared like it was friendly competition and respect.

It's not surprisng to me, but I still find it fascinating how one partner's comments (who I'm guessing is out of the Readability loop) can change all of that with one tweet -- at least from a business perspective.

He was joking. Relax.

That comment is incredible. Not only did Arment openly credit Readability for competitively spurring him, let's go back to the origin of the Readability bookmarklet (long before the app)-


Our latest experiment was partly inspired by Marco Arment’s awesome Instapaper application (and equally awesome Instapaper iPhone app).

As well that Marco has been very upfront about the competition spurring him on.

I think Timothy Meaney needs to watch the Everything is a Remix series: http://www.everythingisaremix.info/watch-the-series/

Marco, Hope you're reading this.

Yes, the fonts are great. Not sure if anyone has noticed, but on IPad3 with Elena font only while in landscape only, capitals are distorted/thin. It's fine in every other font with both portrait and landscape orientations.

Good Characters: BCDNST

Bad Characters: EFHIJKLUVY

Otherwise, no doubt, these fonts are beautiful, and the twilight sepia is a welcome addition, since I use F.lux generally on all my systems. Great release Marco!

I see that too on my iPad 1, but as you say, only in landscape orientation.

That is curious. (I see the same on my iPad.)

Seeing the same on my iPhone 4S while in landscape.

Same on the iPad 2.

That's impressive. He stated less than 24 hours ago that it would take 7-10 days [1]. I guess both Marco and Apple are working around the clock.

1. http://www.marco.org/2012/03/16/instapaper-for-retina-ipad

This seems to be a expedited review by Apple. He submitted it and it was approved within hours. Even with expedited request to Apple it usually does not get this fast. Being popular helped, I guess.

It's in Apple's best interest to get this out so they can show off the new Retina Display with native apps. Makes perfect sense from a business standpoint.

*7-10 days from the launch of the new iPad, which is now.

It's nice when busting your ass pays off, good work marco

The new default iOS font Elena is really gorgeous. There's a few example retina images in TFA that show you how many more pixels the new ipad has then my (and possibly your) display.

I think Marco Arment licensed those fonts. They don’t come with iOS. Would be nice, though, if Apple were to finally step it up again in the typography department, especially now that they have devices that can show beautiful and detailed fonts off.

I think you misunderstood me and/or I could have been less ambiguous. It's Instapaper's new default font on iOS as stated in the article.

I'm not a big font guy but I've been very impressed twice recently by new web fonts -- first Kottke's redesign using Whitney Screen Smart and now Elena for Instapaper.

I'm actually quite disappointed that, while Marco added three new fonts (that's great), he completely removed the ability to use the standard system fonts, at least on my iPhone version!

The fact is, Times New Roman and Helvetica are two of the greatest typefaces of all time both for legibility, and for "receding into the background", so that you notice the content, not the font. Just because they're tremendously overused doesn't make them any less legible.

And while Elena, Lyon and Tisa are not terrible, all of them impose far more typographical personality on the text than I'd rather have. And for an app that people may spend an hour a day reading on, the choice of typeface is actually tremendously important. For me, Elena is just too boxy and spindly, with overlong serifs; Lyon's letterforms just need further work and refinement (the lowercase 'f' has too large of a hook, and feels like it's going to topple over to the right; the commas draw too much attention to themselves because of their size, etc.), and Tisa is just too casual, without enough variation between thick and thin strokes.

So please, Marco, bring back Times New Roman, Palatino, and Helvetica as additional options!

In both the iPhone and iPad versions, Helvetica and Palatino are still available, as are Verdana, Georgia, Hoefler Text, and Baskerville. They're just listed below the six new typefaces in the list. No TNR, but I'm personally ok with that--reminds me too much of MS Word.

There are certainly some other typefaces I would have preferred (Adobe Minion is one of my favorites), but I would imagine Marco was also constrained by the deals he could cut with the foundries. Especially given how quickly he incorporated the licensed typefaces, it seems like a remarkable upgrade to me, and I'm looking forward to trying it out more extensively.

Son of a gun! I just tried, and you're right. Thanks!

It's just that there is ZERO indication that area is scrollable. It shows three (on iPhone), has rounded corners, no scroll bar... definitely a failure in user-interface. Strange.

Minion would be my #1 pick too.

Yeah, I agree that discovering the scrolling nature of the iPhone's typeface list is not immediate for every user. Of course, that's a problem with most scrollable lists on iOS (and now Lion--cf. John Siracusa's comments on Hypercritical #27 about pawing at everything on the screen).

On the iPad, the list displays 4.5 lines, with the top of 'Meta' peeking up from the bottom, so that's a natural visual cue that the list continues. Perhaps there's room to fit in 3.5 (3.4?) lines on the iPhone app, but I would be concerned about making the list either too cramped or unbalanced next to the triad of buttons on the right. In any case, once one discovers that the list scrolls, it's hard to forget it, so perhaps it's fair to trade discoverability for a cleaner interface in the long run.

One additional minor flaw I noted on that list (iPhone and iPad alike): the 'Lyon' text looks like it's aligned too high. I suspect the descender on the 'y' is to blame, although I don't see the same problem with the item for Georgia, the only other font with a descender in its name. One-star review until it's fixed in 4.1.1! ;)

P.S. Glad to hear the appreciation for Minion--I was so happy the day I got my TeX installation configured to use it. I'll likely wait for the 4th generation to update my iPad 2, so Marco's got a year to hash out an agreement with Adobe to use it....

Great to see that you invested big money in quality fonts. Congrats.

Looking forward to Build and Analyze next week to hear about how the update process went.

Sad that he feels the need to be so publicly thankful of the App Review team.

A sane policy would recognize that he's a popular iOS developer in good-standing, and would not submit him to any review process.

Sad that you have to be so publicly critical of someone you think is being so publicly thankful.

Moving on... given that he thought it would take 7-10 days I think it was completely appropriate of him. He worked hard and got an extra boost. I'd rather be supportive than snarky.

I was remarking on the Stockholm Syndrome effect that Apple has inflicted on its most popular third party developers. It's a sad situation.

Especially now (vs. when they first launched the App Store), Apple is seamless and efficient compared to the way mobile apps worked before the open smartphone platforms. You had to negotiate for 6-24mo to get on a carrier's deck.

I wish Apple provided a way to install non-approved apps without jailbreaking, either in some kind of custom security container or entirely at your own risk. I specifically would like to see "adult" (porn) apps allowed (as a free speech issue, and because I think they could be popular), but I'm aware of both Apple's desire to be PG rated and the likely influx of crappy spam which would ensue from porn apps. HTML5 pretty much covers this niche now.

"A sane policy"

From all the information we have it appears that, indeed, Marco's app was fast tracked for approval. So why are you questioning the sanity of Apple here?

Apple's store is a blockbuster success and follows millenia of tradition in shopkeepers having veto power over what they sell in their shops.

The vast majority of my iPad apps had an update today. It's actually likely that Apple fast tracked all submissions made recently.

And there's quite a difference between fast tracked for approval and no approval process. The former requires the developer to the submit to a black box process, the latter provides instant feedback and full control.

"It's actually likely that Apple fast tracked all submissions made recently."

Or there's a high correlation between the apps you installed and the ones that were fast tracked?

"the latter provides instant feedback and full control."

Sure sing the praises of the wildly successful Android Marketpl-- oh wait they had to rebrand it.

Moreover the difference here is that I am not claiming google's model is insane and has no advantages. There are clearly several strong advantages to it. But let's be clear it also has some huge negatives: security, fraud, average quality, spam, discoverability, etc.

Ticking off one spec where google has an advantage and declaring Apple's far more successful store insane is laughable.

It is possible they could have fast tracked anything that was an update with the word "retina" in the description. As important as it is for app developers to be ready for a new product I'm sure apple even more so wants apps to look as good as possible on a new product.

The fonts look pretty great on my iPhone 4. (Though I miss my favorite face from iBooks, Iowan.) Unfortunately, they look very strange on my iPad 1. Uneven and partly washed out.

How do you owners of devices with retina display feel when you go back to programming on your MBPs?

I'm seriously considering getting one of those high DPI MacBook Airs now.

Definitely love the 11 inch Air for 3 reasons:

1. Highest dpi screen of a Mac 2. Keyboard travel 3. Overall solid feel

I use both a Pro and Air daily and can say without doubt that I always prefer the Air.

However, if there's rumor of a new Air coming out soon, I'd wait for that.

They don't exist (yet). Lion supports HighDPI mode, but the Airs have about the same DPIs as the iPad 1/2.

Still higher DPI than the pros. That's all I meant.

I look forward to the day when we have super hi dpi laptops.

However, while the lower dpi of my macbook pro is noticeable, it is not tremendously so. If the screen were closer to my face it would be much more noticeable, but laptops usually have some distance to the viewer.

I haven't used Instapaper yet but why not use the pinch motion to get out of an article as you'd do with pictures?

While I think this a a worthy suggestion, I also believe that "hidden" gestures that have low "discoverability" should be dealt with extreme caution.

For example, in a reading app, a pinch gesture can also be assigned to changing font sizes, and perhaps that's what many users will expect to happen.

I think keeping gestures to a minimum (in this case, just a tap, which coincidentally, is a feature of many e-book readers) serves Instapaper well.

By the way, well done Marco. Solid update, worth working hard for, and I am sure your customers appreciate it.

Great update. I love the new full screen mode. Tab on the screen to go full screen. Tap again to go back.

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