Switch From Myriad to San Francisco: a Disaster For Japanese Typography

Apple’s Japanese web site for Suica Apple Pay using Apple TP

With the release of iPhone 6 in 2014, Apple refreshed their Japanese site with a new web font Apple TP  (above). Apple TP is a custom font using Myriad Set for roman glyphs and Axis for Japanese glyphs. One of the design aims of Axis was to harmonize roman and kanji glyphs in mixed text strings making heavy use of proportional spacing.

Some liked it, some did not but there was no denying that Apple had spent time and money on Japanese web typography.

This week ditched Myriad Set for San Francisco on their main English language pages. In Japan Apple ditched Apple TP and replaced it with SF Pro JP. The result is what you see below.

Apple’s Japanese web page for Apple Pay Support uses SF Pro JP which appears to be a custom mix of San Francisco roman glyphs and Hiragino Kaku Pro kanji and kana glyphs

SF Pro JP appears to be a horrific mish-mash of San Francisco roman glyphs and Hiragino Kaku Pro for everything else using Japanese style fixed spacing. The hot mess looks like an Apple Japan web page from 1995 using the long gone Osaka system font: raw Japanese text with zero typographic finesse,   huge    gaps     between      English    and   Japanese    text, weird spacing between kanji and kana glyphs.

Somebody at Apple really dropped the ball.

Update: Font folks from the mother ship tell me that SF Pro JP should not be rendering like that. 12 hours after the above screen grabs, SF Pro JP now renders like this (below) in Safari on macOS 10.12.3 and iOS 10.3 beta 1:

SF Pro JP render 1-27-2017.png

The bolder glyphs make the text stings look a little more balanced, if indeed this is how it is supposed to look, but Apple TP did a much better job balancing roman, kanji and kana glyphs into well-balanced, good-looking text strings. SF Pro JP text stings are gappy, chunky and ugly.