Say you were idly flipping through a new magazine and, type aficionado that you are, you suddenly fell in love with that fantastic headline font used throughout. Once upon a time you needed a certain amount of professional knowledge, usually gained the hard way via tormented years in design school, to be able to visually identify a typeface cold. Meet What the Font, a new iPhone app that will do it for you. All you have to do is take a photo of the mystery type with the iPhone’s camera and the app will search its database and suggest matches. That’s pretty sweet. It’s like my other favorite app, Shazam, which identifies any song currently playing that you happen to overhear and like (and cleverly allows you to buy it from the iTunes store on the spot.) Sort of like having your coolest friend with you at all times, the one who knows everything possible about music. Apps like these allow people to access specialized knowledge quickly, and there’s real joy in the instantaneousness of the answers. I guess the downside is that relying on them can become a crutch, like relying on a calculator instead of knowing how to actually add and subtract. I came across this fantastic post in one of my favorite typography blogs.The post also explores some other great type apps for the iPhone including a letterspacing game called Kern. Talk about fun for geeks, it’s addictive. Excuse me, I must get back to it.


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