Things the iPad must answer to: eBook Apps, Library loans, Font Smoothing

Discussion in 'iPad Apps' started by MVApple, Feb 13, 2010.

  1. macrumors 6502a

    Jul 18, 2008
    I'm pretty excited about the upcoming release of the iPad. The idea of having a single device that is capable of ebooks, music, movies, games, and other apps is really the "ultimate" entertainment machine.

    I think what is really going to set the iPad apart is that it does double duty as an ebook reader though, but Apple has been pretty draconian at times about its app approval process.

    Currently for the iPhone we have kindle and B&N ebook reader apps. In Apple terms, won't this "duplicate" the functionality of their ebook app? Or is this phrase reserved for apps that come pre-loaded with the iPad? Of note being that the iPad isn't coming pre-loaded with the ebook app.

    Secondly, Apple has embraced the epub format, which is what public library use. There are libraries where you can in fact borrow ebooks. Will Apple allow libraries to tap into the iPad to allow its users to borrow books?

    Lastly, of SUPER importance to me is font smoothing. I know Apple loves making things look pretty, but not optimizing fonts for readability would be a real bad mistake IMO. I do a lot of reading online and my eyes hate the way OS X smooths fonts, which is why I'm on a windows machine again. Please gives us an option to use fonts optimized for readability Apple.:apple:
  2. macrumors 6502a


    Oct 12, 2008
    I won't try to deny what your eyes are seeing, but it's quite the opposite for me. I find that Mac OS X fonts are easier to read at small point sizes because they're not overly pixelised and have perfect spacing between letters (kerning). Windows sacrifices kerning and letter shapes at small sizes to try to fit letters into pixels.

    The other day at work we were a dozen or so watching a powerpoint presentation with a lot of text (on Windows). The presenter was reading it aloud. We reached a slide where the same serif font was used, but just a point smaller (12 points vs. 13 points or so). This happens to be the threshold where Windows decides to switch to a mode where it sacrifices letter shapes and spacing to supposedly improve readability. Well the presenter suddenly had trouble reading and everybody in the room had the same complain about how it was suddenly hard to read even though the letters weren't really much smaller.

    Again, I don't doubt that you have a harder time reading with Mac OS X font smoothing, but I feel that a lot of people have a knee-jerk reaction when first seeing OS X font smoothing (remember Safari for Windows?) complaining about how "blurry" it is, without realizing that preserving kerning and letter shapes is also very important when it comes to readability.

    So to answer your question, I doubt that the iPad font smoothing is much different than on OS X, and I think that's because Apple chose one aspect of readability over another, not just because it's "prettier" (doesn't pretty means easier on the eyes anyway?).
  3. macrumors 68040

    Apr 6, 2006
    is it that we have a lot of time or are we all just sort of loopy? :D
  4. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jul 18, 2008
    Well from everything I've read. Mac OS X preserves typography at the cost of readability. Preserving typography has something to do with publishing, i.e. what you type on the screen is not going to be spaced differently when published because of spacing issues with the font etc. I don't know the details, but I do understand the jest of it. The preservation of the typography is what I called "pretty". Windows on the other hand distorts the typography to make it easier to read.

    Now I understand that some people prefer the OS X font smoothing, they say it's easier on their eyes and I'm sure that for them it is. That doesn't change the fact about what the philosophy is behind the creation of the font smoothing techniques between the two operating systems though. If you do a Google search you'll be able to read up in more detail on the issue.

    As for your Windows example, well that's not a fair example because you're not comparing both font smoothing techniques side by side. Was window's clear type on? Was it xp or vista? Was the projector focused? What font was being used? How far away were you from screen? There are way too many variables, so that example doesn't work.

    I had a Unibody Macbook Pro for about 6+ months I think and the font smoothing was one of the first things I noticed. The second thing I noticed was how much eyestrain I was getting. I had the 15" unibody and I could go the entire day without eyestrain on a 12" Vista laptop, while on the Mac I could only go a couple of hours before I started to feel the effects.

    It's possible that my problem, or at least part of it, was how reflective the glass was, but really I don't know. Font smoothing is my only issue with Macs, other than that I feel that OS X is superior. I take online classes though and I spend way too much time in front of a screen doing work for me to be able to deal with the eyestrain, so I had to say bye to the unibody.

    Maybe part of it has to do with what font smoothing you're used to, I really don't know but I can honestly say that I really tried to get used to it, it just wouldn't happen. As soon as I went back to my 12" laptop, the eyestrain went away. The 12" laptop has a glossy screen too, but its definitely not as reflective as the glass macbook pro.

    Anyways, I wish Apple would give us an option, although I think people that are affected by the font smoothing are very much in the minority. I think I'm just more susceptible to it than most people. One of the first things I noticed on the Palm Pre was how fantastic their fonts were, they are incredibly readable. I'd be thrilled to see Apple give us some options on this issue.

    There's just no way I'll be able to use an iPad if I get the same eyestrain issues as with the Macbook Pro. Sucks for me, but I'll save some cash at least right? :p
  5. macrumors 6502

    Mar 19, 2009
    Orbiting Mercury
    I think you will find that with the pixel density of the iPad screen (132 dpi from memory) font smoothing will be more or less invisible and therefore a non-issue.
  6. macrumors 6502


    Sep 8, 2005
    Can't you adjust the size of the text in iBooks to make it bigger?
  7. macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    Hey...... kind of like a normal computer!
  8. macrumors 603


    Jun 4, 2007
    I guess you don't get it.

    Some day you will.
  9. macrumors 68000

    Jun 16, 2008
    There's a difference between being capable of something and being specialized in doing those extraordinarily well. Seriously, computers are great, and I doubt an iPad will replace them, but the iPad will be undoubtedly better at the tasks he mentioned. There's just a much more one-on-one interactivity involved than scrolling your finger over a trackpad.

    I highly suspect the iPad will replace 90% of what I do on the computer simply for the reason that's what it was specifically designed to be able to do. If you can't see that, you need to improve your imagination for what this thing will be able to achieve.

    Sitting down on a normal laptop and clicking a trackpad and mashing some keys won't be comparable to controlling a whole interface with my fingers. It's like being able to fly, or being in a plane.

    So, indeed, I'll be getting one of these on day one. I can't wait.
  10. macrumors 604


    Jun 30, 2007
    Obvious not since you need a computer to sync the iPad with.:eek:
  11. macrumors 6502a


    Oct 12, 2008
    I've read a few articles too, and while they all mention that OS X preserves typography at the cost of something, not everybody is in agreement that it's at the cost of readability. I've yet to find any scientific evidence that one or the other causes eye strain. IMHO, typography itself is an important part of readability, and sacrificing it to fit letters into the pixel grid is a compromise that may not improve readability.

    Anyway like WytRaven mentioned, the iPad screen has a relatively high resolution screen so the blurriness of OS X fonts will be less noticeable.

    But side from the glare issue (which can be taken care of using an anti-glare layer) I think that one thing you overlooked is the difference in screen size between your two laptops. A 15" screen will throw a lot more light at your eyes than a 12", and this element is I think much more likely to be the source of your eye-strain than the difference in font-smoothing technology.

    Just like you said about my projector example, there are so many possible variable in your own example (do you use both laptop in the same exact context? Reading the same things? Using the same exact font? Are those two screen the same DPI?).
  12. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jul 18, 2008
    Well I did use the unibody with Windows but I really didn't like it so I never spent too much time in Windows but I never had any noticeable eyestrain issues when I did use it, but again I didn't spend hours there reading things.

    Also, I did read the same content on the 15" Mac and the 12" Vista machine, so that's not a variable. I used Firefox on both machines using the same font style. The 12" laptop had a higher DPI which means everything looks smaller on the screen. On the MAC I constantly had to increase my font size to reduce eyestrain while the smaller fonts on the Windows machine gave me less eyestrain.

    It's true that the DPI may reduce the font smoothing effect.

    Whatever the issue, the Macbook gave me serious eyestrain. I used them in the same room side by side. Whether it had to do with glare or font smoothing, the increased eyestrain from the Mac is a fact for me. I tried denying it at first but after 6+ months I had to let go.

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