Apple and the iPhone

Like most Apple fans, we had a hard time concentrating on work yesterday. This is, of course, because of the much-anticipated release of Apple’s iPhone and the accompanying keynote. But as web developers, we couldn’t help but notice some changes around Apple’s website, too.

First of all, they added a tab! Apple has, for years, had seven tabs – allowing the website to fit well enough on an 800×600 display. Now some, but not all, sections of the website have an additional, eighth tab. See if you can spot it! Funny thing is, it’s only there on about half the main sections. On the home page, it’s there. In the store, it’s gone. OS X it’s there, .Mac it’s gone. So it appears that the designers didn’t really have time to do a proper job. Likely that will change fairly soon.

There was a section overhauled, as well – the downloads section. Two things are particularly noteworthy to us. First, the use of JavaScript to enable the tabs halfway down the page, without needing a page refresh. Pretty cool. Second, the new header text. Helvetica. Throughout much of Apple’s existence, a narrow Garamond font was the signature typeface. Around four or five years ago, Apple switched to Myriad, which is the font associated with the iPod and other breakthrough Apple products. But it was the narrow Garamond which sold the classic, colorful iMacs.

Finally, the iPhone has another typeface-related peculiarity about it. When the first iPods came out, they used Apple’s old display font, Chicago). The subsequent iPods used Myriad instead, which puts the default font on OS X, Lucida Grande, to shame! But now the iPhone (and surely the next generation of iPods as well) is using yet another font – Helvetica!

Now, I love Helvetica. Even more than Myriad. I think they’re the right choices. Yet I’m surprised to see Apple changing their mind so often about the iPod font – three times in five years! However, I understand that the iPhone’s display is 160ppi, which is nearly double the displays I’m used to. I have no doubt whatsoever that they chose the right font for that display… and I sure am dying to get my hands on one of those phones!!

Raymond Brigleb

Creative Director, dreamer, partner, father, musician, photographer. Has been known to ride the rails. Pulls one heck of a shot.