Review: WhatTheFont for iPhone

designworkplan / Typography and Fonts / Review: WhatTheFont for iPhone

WhatTheFont, a great tool to check a font from an bitmap image. For years the tools is to be found online at myfonts. I have used this tool many times before and was wondering if it will become available for iPhone. From January 2009 this tool is released for iPhone users and now you can take a photo and identify the font using this new iPhone App.

WhatTheFont iPhone App

img_0006This is a review of WhatTheFont for iPhone App, I will go into every step of identifying a font using this App & a iPhone. I will try to get the results as stated from the myFonts website: Identify the fonts in a photo or web graphic! .

Ever seen a great font in a magazine ad, poster, or on the web and wondered what font it is? Whip out your iPhone and snap a photo, and WhatTheFont for iPhone will identify that font in seconds!

WhatTheFont iPhone App is free available from the iPhone store created by myFonts.

  • install WhatTheFont iPhone App

Let’s get started!

img_0010Downloaded the tool into my iPhone and started the program, as you can see in the splash screen there are two options. One is to take a new photo or you can select a photo from your photo-roll in your iPhone. I selected the first option and took a new photo of the Apple Airport box. When taking a photo use the following tips from myFonts:

  • WhatTheFont works best with just a few, large letters. Keep the text to fewer than 20 characters.
  • Try to get the text as close to horizontal as possible. (Pretty hard to manage with an iPhone)
  • Avoid connected letters (as in logo’s or cursive handwriting)
  • A well-lit, uniform-color background works the best

With this Airport example I adapted the above steps and started working with the photo and selected use photo. Now I am able to use my fingers onto the photo to draw a box around the text. At first it seems pretty hard to get a good box around the text, but after some experience it worked better and betters. You can also rotate the photo by rotating your iPhone, I found this not very helpful and I would suggest to take the photo in a standing up position. When you have selected the desired text to identify hit the right top corner Upload. The App is uploading the cropped image to myFonts to identify the font.

Check Characters

In this step of identifying a font you can see the results of WhatTheFonts character guessing. The App shows you every single letter of the selected text and you are able to remove characters from identifying by selecting the red icon left from the letter.

Some characters such as the letters i WhatTheFont separates the stroke from the dot. You can merge these two images for betters results in identifying the font. This needs some practice, try selecting two images with two fingers, the boxes turn grey and you are able to move them towards each other, the tool then merges the letters and you only need to fill in the correct letter in the right box. Hit the box and the type-in screen appears.

When you are done modifying and inserting missing characters hit Identify! and the right top corner. The App communicates with myFonts and presents you with the results.

Font Identified!

The font is recognized! In this case the font Myriad-Pro Semibold is found as to match, further on various other close fonts are mentioned for you to pick the perfect match with the taken photo. I have run this example a few times, 3 times out of 4 it gave this results, not bad in my opinion.

When selecting the identified font you are presented with two options: One send an email containing a link to the myFonts website or you can open the link on your iPhone with Safari browser. The most powerful option (for me) is sending a link by email, this way I can check the typeface

Visiting the myFonts website allows you to buy and see all the font details.

My findings

I simply love this tool for my iPhone, it gives me freedom to take shots where ever I am and quickly find out which font it is. A few details that I don’t like about this tool:

  • When first installed the App crashed many times, I needed to clear the iPhone memory by a hardware restart in order to make this tool work better.
  • Taking a horizontal shot of text is not very easy and the letters on the photos are quickly a bit blur, so WhatTheFont cannot recognize the font. I know this is partly due the low quality camera in the iPhone.
  • Indoor shots are not always recognized correctly due the low contrast background.

My Suggestions for WhatTheFont iPhone App

WhatTheFont for iPhone is currently in version 1.0, I have some suggestions to improve this tool and make it even more useful:

  • In the crop image selection should be these two options: a contrast slider to get a better separation between text and background and the option to sharpen the image. I believe with these two options you will have better results in identifying the fonts. Even better would be a function to apply an auto adjustment to the cropped text (like in Fireworks/Photoshop). I used the iPhone App Photonasis Lite to enhance photos for better recognition.
  • Add more separation in boxes at the Check Chars step, when trying to delete characters I kept hitting the wrong box and got the typescreen.
  • Use a timestamp and Google maps location when sending a link by email, this way I will know when and where I was when I saw that particular font.
  • When a font is not recognized use a option to send the image to the WhatTheFont forum to find out if anybody else could help me finding out what font it is.

Requirements and information

  • For iPhone and iPod Touch with the latest firmware update. With the iPhone you can take photos and use them in the tool, for iPod Touch users you can only use the photos from the photoroll (no camera).
  • Wifi connection or mobile network to upload the photos and see the results.
  • Fonts, fonts and more fonts!
  • Visit the website myFonts to read more about this great iPhone App WhatTheFont
  • Download and install WhatTheFont on your iPhone.


I like the WhatTheFont iPhone App a lot, it might needs some more approvements but my iPhone is turning into a complete design studio at the moment! Love it! The succes rate for identifying fonts is (with good photos) I guess somewhere around 75%.

Go try this tool, I am looking forward to your findings in the comments!
Thank you in advance.

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