If you have a deep and unbending hatred for Comic Sans, have strong feelings about the use of serifs on signage, or get bent out of shape about kerning, you are a font-nerd. It can be tough living in a world full of ugly lettering, but now Android users have an app that can help lessen the pain. Fontly helps you explore the world of typography on the go.

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This app gives users the opportunity to collaboratively archive vintage and unique fonts from signs, buildings, and packaging. Snap a picture of whatever lettering you come across, title it, tag it, and upload it to the Fontly service. Sharing to other social services is also supported. Your photo will be geotagged so others can check out nearby typographical wonders on the map view.

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This is a niche service that most users won't take the time to check out. Although, a lot of the signs people upload are very cool. Fontly is free, so you should give it a chance.

Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

He's the author of a sci-fi novel called The Crooked City, which is available on Amazon and Google Play. http://goo.gl/WQIXBM

  • Possum

    Looks like another crappy iOS port. The sooner Google bans apps like this the better off android will be. Apps like this should not even be reviewed on this site because it just encourages other lazy, pathetic developers to do the same.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=650230008 Richard Chao

      Looks like the same layout as Instagram. I don't see complaints to get that app banned.

      • http://www.facebook.com/powerje Jim Power

        Then you don't read app reviews on Google Play. Not that I blame you.

        But Instagram looks like shit and should improve its UI. As should this app.

        • http://twitter.com/brendanciecko Brendan Ciecko

          I welcome everyone's perspective, but why is the Android community far more rigid and visually conservative than the iPhone community?

          • vitriolix

            For a couple really good historical reasons.

            1) for years we have suffered with an inconsistent platform because there were no standards at all.. .so navigating around apps was confusing and muddled. Every app acted differently than the next. When Matias Duarte took over the UI/UX he righted that ship and put out a gorgeous and well thought out set of guidelines to match Android 3.0/4.x apps that were so much nicer to use than their 2.x counter parts. Finally we have a world class UI and it feels great to use. So now when an app gets obviously ported over from iOS, where the app developer worked hard to meet the iOS user expectation, but lazily didn't even bother to follow the most basic navigational metaphors for this platform... yeah, that's a bit insulting.

            2) because iOS was first to market and got most developer mindshare earlier, for years app devs either ignored or barely placated the huge and growing Android platform with crappy ports. Apps either never appeared on Android, or were clearly rushed, badly ported iOS apps with alien UIs. It shows a stunning lack of care for the user.

            But that aside... you really don't think an app that took an Android or Windows Phone UI and just slapped it on an iOS app would get ripped to shreds in the App Store?

    • denbo68

      I can't say why but this post made me laugh out loud. Thanks.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Good thing this is not a review then.

  • http://blog.ravrahn.net/ Owen Cassidy

    As a font nerd, I'm appalled at their use of a script font in the UI. UIs are meant to be readable - they use a nice serif in some parts, why not all parts? I can only assume it's some sort of post-modern ironic thing, a typography sharing service with bad use of typography.

    Actually they probably just put their branding ahead of their UI. That makes sense, considering they use an iOS style UI, probably for consistency between platforms.

    • Jcopernicus

      It's a title, not a long information field. They can be stylized and legible at the same time.

      The specific script font they picked though, hideous, and the kerning? Horrible.

      • http://blog.ravrahn.net/ Owen Cassidy

        They use it in the text boxes and in a location warning in those screenshots.

        Sure, stylised and legible would be fine, but script fonts in general (IMO), and that one in particular, are pretty bad when it comes to 'legible'.

      • http://twitter.com/brendanciecko Brendan Ciecko

        Thanks for your thoughts. Can you please elaborate on what you find some hideous about this specific script font, particularly it's kerning? It mirrors the typographic sensibilities of that sign-painters used in the pre-digital era. It has a flavor that might be unfamiliar to some, but is true to what Fontly is about: vintage, pre-digital lettering that was created by human without pixels.

    • http://twitter.com/brendanciecko Brendan Ciecko

      Please refer to my note to "Jcopernicus" and enlighten me with what typographic choices would be more acceptable to you and the Android community. Roboto?

      • http://blog.ravrahn.net/ Owen Cassidy

        In terms of what's wrong with the script font, my main problem with it is that I find it difficult to read. I completely understand your choice to use it in text fields and headings - people write in the text fields, and script fonts look like writing - but I think above all, it should be readable, so you can see clearly what you've written, make corrections, etc.
        So, from a design perspective, you have a nice serif already, and I would use that in some of the cases, but for the heading, probably a sans-serif, and Roboto is certainly the most fitting for an Android app.

        If you gave your app some more Holo, made use of the Action Bar, for example, it would make a lot of sense to use Roboto for headings - it would add some more Android, and sans-serif typefaces are traditionally used in newspapers as headings, with serifs in bodies, so it may serve to invoke more of the 'pre-digital' look whilst also feeling like a modern app, which I gather is the look and feel you're going for - your script font does this, as it's both modern/stylised and feels 'pre-digital'.

        I think what you need to remember is that while maintaining a consistent look and feel across platforms is important, your users probably won't see both apps, so you have a decent amount of room to fit your platform. I think you could keep the important elements of your UI, like the blue, and even keep a lot of it working the same, but feeling more like it fits with Android - the designs you've used will lend themselves well to Holo, if I understand the navigation correctly. I did a mockup but I can't seem to upload it to anything, sorry.

  • vitriolix

    A design focused app that totally disregards platform UI guidelines and does a lazy iOS port? Now that is just trolling :-)

    • http://twitter.com/brendanciecko Brendan Ciecko

      This is a particular app where the content is intended to speak louder than the UI. On iOS, we made the decision to use a flat UI (no gradients or traditional iOS-theme cues) to create a larger contrast with the photo content. As we moved on to release a version for Android, we wanted to preserve our general UI, regardless of Android's Holo guidelines.

      • vitriolix

        I like your UI design, that looks nice. The problem is you UX is clearly a direct iOS port and hence feels really alien and mismatched on Android. It show a lack of awareness of and interest in your Android users. UI/UX standards are a good thing, a really really good thing.

  • Al McDowall

    Interesting app, I'm curious to see how the collection develops.

    RE: The issues with it being a direct iOS port
    To be honest, in this case, it doesn't bother me much and I suspect those who are complaining about it would be unlikely to use it anyway. If I were designing something for Android straight off, it would be Holo themed, or at least it would have a non-generic flavour to it. If I was designing for the iPhone (which I wouldn't) and then porting to Android, I would aim to have the UIs match as much as possible.

    To be honest, I think we should be grateful for a well made, albeit non-mainstream, app. The fact that it looks the same as the same app on the iPhone should be neither here nor there, given that the theming is not too heavy handed.

    At the same time, also being a bit of a font nerd, I totally agree with Owen Cassidy about the use of a near-unreadable script font throughout.

    Still, nice idea well realised. And free!! Thanks to the devs.

    • http://blog.ravrahn.net/ Owen Cassidy

      There are ways to achieve a consistent UI across platforms while keeping within the platform's guidelines. Google apps do it pretty well, especially Chrome, which sticks to the UI guidelines of whatever platform it's on but retains a unique and consistent UI. Youtube for iOS and Android, too, look native on both and also is consistent across both.

      • http://twitter.com/brendanciecko Brendan Ciecko

        Owen, thanks for your input. The apps that you've cited are mainstream, and what we could identify as must-have utility apps (especially a browsers). Those apps are intended to appeal to everyone and be usable to the lowest common denominator. We will continue to improve and iterate Fontly, for both iOS and Android, and hope to strike some balance that pleases to our users.

    • http://twitter.com/brendanciecko Brendan Ciecko

      Thank you for Al. I appreciate your support. As you've mentioned, this isn't a mainstream app, and the focus is very niche.

      • Al McDowall

        Very welcome Brendan, hope the Fontly community grows and grows :)

    • vitriolix

      "I suspect those who are complaining about it would be unlikely to use it anyway"

      Nope, you are wrong. I am right in the wheel house of the target demo here. I design and build apps (mostly Android, but some iOS) for a living and love apps like this.

      • Al McDowall

        Mate, I stand corrected.