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Old New York is new again

Apple’s rebuilt New York typeface is now available for use

It’s an exciting time for Apple fans as the tech giant just held its annual
Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in California. It did not disappoint, introducing new, feature-packed versions of all its operating system variants, as well as unveiling some new high-end hardware for creatives and professionals. But among these high-profile announcements was an understated reveal that pricked up the ears of type enthusiasts everywhere.

Apple's New York typeface
Apple’s New York typeface

Apple is releasing a new typeface, New York, which appears to be based on – or at least named after – a transitional serif typeface that was packaged with the original Macintosh computer in 1984. The classic New York was among a number of typefaces created for the system by graphic designer Susan Kare, each of which was named after “world class cities” at the request of Steve Jobs. (Kare herself was responsible for many of Apple’s early interface elements, notably the “Happy Mac” icon and the symbol for the Command key [].)

Original Macintosh fonts designed by Susan Kare
Original Macintosh fonts designed by Susan Kare / Wikimedia Commons

The company says that the new New York is “based on essential aspects of historical type styles and is designed to work on its own as well as alongside San Francisco.” It actually made its first appearance in a refresh of the iBooks app in 2018. The newly dubbed Apple Books app used the typeface exclusively and was therefore not available to developers, until now.

New York is used in the Apple Books app from iOS 12
New York is used in the Apple Books app from iOS 12 / Apple

How Apple will use New York more widely is unclear, given that San Francisco is the company’s corporate typeface and is used throughout their software, branding and communications. But designers know that walls of sans serif text – especially in a single typeface – can be dull to look at, and make creating visual hierarchy tricky. Mixing sans serifs with serifs is one way to overcome these challenges, so it makes sense for Apple to introduce a proprietary serif to do that.

New York comes in six weights, four optical sizes, and italics. It’s available to download now from the Fonts page on the Apple Developer site. As with its San Francisco fonts, Apple restricts you to using New York only in “mock-ups of user interfaces” for apps running on Apple operating systems.