iPadOS 13 (iOS 13 with knobs, basically) introduced user-installable fonts — or typefaces as we used to call them in the trade, especially in pre-digital times. Apple already bundles a host of fonts with iPadOS, but the addition of user-installable fonts ought to allow much greater scope for tablet-based typographical creativity.
The snag is that, for entirely understandable but unhelpful anti-piracy concerns, Apple insists that fonts can only be installed from an app that supports a specific API, and then only fonts stored in the app’s bundle, or listed in an asset catalog as remote URLs. Typefaces can’t be installed from the app’s Documents folder, much less from iCloud Drive or other sync-n-store services.
The install-from-app-only limitation also means that fonts vanish if the host app is deleted. This is presumably because ‘installing’ the fonts doesn’t do the equivalent of copying them to a system-level Fonts folder, it simply allows the loading of fonts by the system from the host app’s sandbox.
My brother makes fonts which I want to use these on my iPad. I also have a number of favourites that Google makes available (though most are not actually created by Google) that I’d like to use too. How to get them onto my iPad? Adobe’s Creative Cloud app includes some of the free fonts that Google also hosts, and they can be installed using iPadOS 13. But Creative Cloud requires an Adobe account just to install the free ones, and it doesn’t include the ones I use. So sod that.
There are font installation apps you can buy from the App Store, but I’m not paying good money for an app only to find it then doesn’t include the fonts I want either.
The solution: roll my own font app.
Fontismo — for that is its name — is now available from the App Store. I made it for me to use — hopefully you’ll find it useful too. It’s free to download, and there are no in-app purchases or ads.
Fontismo currently provides access to 50 fonts in what I think is a good mix of styles. iPadOS has plenty of serif and sans serif typefaces for body text; I’ve focused on providing ones mores suitable for headline and display roles, plus some fun ones too, but not the usual ‘comic’ ones. I plan to add more in future releases.
There’s a simple alphabet preview of every typeface, and scalable and user-chosen text previews of faces that you’ve installed. You can preview variants — condensed, bold, italic, heavy, etc. — of typefaces that have them.
Install a face and find you’re not so keen on it once you’ve had a closer look? Just uninstall it — you can always re-install it later if you change your mind.
Note This is a re-post of an earlier article.