Tuesday, 14 June 2016

TfL prepares for emojification


TfL have just announced the change to the London Underground typeface font, so that they can include hashtags and @, moving from Edward Johnston's 100 year old typeface to a new and very similar digital typeface Johnston100 designed by Monotype.

Truth be told, there was an intermediate version back in the 1970s, when the old overlapping W was replaced as part of a move to typesetting.

Johnston didn't see the need to design certain characters like @ and #, although if he had, we'd probably have stylised ones, like his groovy £ (now de-flourished), quote marks and the care with the differential spacing of the filled loops on B, P and R, which all also help legibility. Then there's the caret topped i and j and the ornate and serifed lower case g.

Sure enough, they've tweaked the g and also removed the flourish from the £ symbol. Those dots on the i and j get morphed to 11, the full-stop is invited to become precariously balanced and the new @ symbol looks as if it comes from a different univers*.

Even the Apple mac keyboard had to kind-of cram the hashtag in, next to the GBP £ symbol as an alt-character on the number 3. Such multiple key pressing for a character isn't new, and even in the days of low speed digital communications, there were various notional shorthands to speed up the messaging.

So no great surprise that Apple have just said that iPhones can convert real words back into digital-world emojis, and that the new emojis can be displayed three times the size of the old ones. Squeee.

The TfL and the emoji moves are maybe further signs of the digital future and I suppose resultant emoji translations become internationally understandable?

In case you're not fully up to speed, for some revision, here's Zoe Mendelson's rendering of the Breaking Bad finale in emoji, below.

It would be fun to convert a few TfL station names to emojis, but that will have to wait.

* = bad typeface joke

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