App Review – WhatTheFont

It’s a designer’s nightmare – You come across a typeface in an ad and your brain screams “That’s it!” You desperately flip through your mental list of fonts, trying to figure out its name but it eludes you. You don’t have time to take it back to the office and rifle through the thousands of fonts on your computer.

WhatTheFont to the rescue! Or so it would seem.

The way WhatTheFont works is you take a photo of the typeface you are interested in, then isolate it from the rest of the distracting text and imagery by drawing a box around it. WhatTheFont goes to its online database and attempts to match up the letters individually. Once you delete the non-matches, it presents you with exactly the right font, thereby saving your day.

Ideally that’s what would happen, but from my experience with it, it falls short. Out of five different attempts to find a comparable typeface, only once did it work accurately. Granted it did it’s best but it really wasn’t even close.

The final trial was when I took a photo of the front of a cereal box, roughly 135 point type, in bright light.

Now under the right circumstances it does well, as I mentioned, however in the other four slightly less than ideal conditions (based on slight movement, indirect light or type in two smaller sizes), it fails to come even close.

It is fun to play with, to see what kind of comparable fonts it comes up with, however I don’t think I would be able to use it as a serious tool that I rely upon to accurately name fonts.

In mentioning that, I also have to say that I doubt all the blame can be attributed to the app. The camera in certain situations might be to blame as well.

Fortunately it is free to play with and judge for yourself.

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