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Closest alternatives to San Francisco typeface for cross-platform use

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Alex Bystrov

Hi everyone, I'm sure some of you already faced the challenge of finding a close alternative to Apple's new default system font to build a consistent cross-platform experience. My goal is to use San Francisco Display on iOS and Mac as primary platforms for our app and find something similar on other platforms (eg Windows, Android etc). I would really appreciate any suggestions.

The closest one I could find is Graphik (Commercial Type). It does support Extended Latin, Cyrillic and Greek alphabets, proportional and tabular lining for figures, it has hinting and most importantly it looks... well, not similar, but close to SF UI. I still have to set text tracking tighter than default (about –20) but the main problem now is that the weight is distributed differently: Graphik Light is thiner than SF UI Light, Graphik Medium is bolder than SF UI Medium and so on.

The only other suggestion I found was Akkurat here, but I'm still not satisfied.

 

sf_compare-01.png

Graphik-family.pdf

pasted_image_at_2016_01_21_04_24.png

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Alex Bystrov
12 hours ago, Riccardo Sartori said:

Well, the first thing that comes to mind would be Roboto, of course.

But are you sure you want to treat some of your users as second class citizens?

I think it would be a wiser choice either to offer the most native experience to each user, or establish your own consistent aesthetics across platforms.

I want to use SF UI on iOS not just because it's a system font but because it does support all the new iOS9 features like font-size dependent tracking, different fonts for <20pt and >20pt sizes etc. It's just the best typographic experience possible on our primary platform with zero cost of development. Also using SF on iOS means that it will become larger/bolder for people with disabilities (only this way it will support system-wide setting). And then I want to recreate some of it on other platforms as close to original experience as possible (within reasonable cost). Because clearly Apple are the only ones who cared enough to include all this to their system. It will take some additional coding to get size-dependent tracking or proportional lining for figures on other platforms, but it doesn't sound like second-class anything to me, where am I getting it wrong? Cross-pltaform consistency is a good thing too, right? So if I get to choose between Roboto/Segoe/whatever and Graphik for instance, I will surely choose Graphik if I don't find something even closer to SF (which I'm trying to do right now). It's not that Roboto is bad or anything, it just has a really different aesthetics and tone of voice. The difference between SF and Roboto is subtle but to me it's like Aluminum and Plastic — you can't tell the difference until you touch the thing. When you do it becomes pretty obvious.

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