Few areas are as important to a graphic designer as font selection. And there is nothing more annoying than seeing a great font somewhere in the wild and then not being able to find it anywhere. If you’re like me, you’ve found yourself pulling out your phone and taking a picture in the hope of matching it online later on. Thankfully there are some really great apps for iPhone that help you identify these fonts. Although there are not as many options for Android, WhatTheFont and several desktop applications can help.
The first significant app for iOS was WhatTheFont, which has eight years of experience in font identification based on pictures taken with an iPhone. This app has now evolved – its 2.0 version launched in October. WhatTheFont 2.0 overhauled the entire technology, rebuilding the app to keep pace with changes in mobile technology. The app uses deep learning technology, which makes for a more powerful process. If you are looking for one great app, WhatTheFont is my top pick.
The reality is that sometimes when you see a great font in the wild, you only have a second to capture it. When you open WhatTheFont, it takes you right to the camera, which is a plus for people who are on the go. WhatTheFont identifies each line of text in a photo. It’s easy to rotate and zoom in on the font with the app, which helps make font identification more accurate. WhatTheFont has a tie-in with MyFonts, and can take you directly to the site to purchase the fonts the app identifies. If you aren’t familiar with MyFonts, it is a great resource with more than 130,000 fonts, plus connected scripts.
WhatTheFont is now available for Android as well.
Whereas WhatTheFont is a single app, Adobe’s Capture CC is a broader app with multiple tools, as befits any app coming from Adobe. The biggest drawback to Capture is that its camera interface is not as sophisticated as WhatTheFont. You are essentially only able to capture one line of text, and you need to snap the pic inside a box. Unlike WhatTheFont, it can only do one kind of font at a time, rather than analyzing multiple fonts and multiple lines from one capture.
Capture has a few features that WhatTheFont does not have, however. For example, once you receive your list of fonts, you can then edit certain aspects of the font, such as style, size, and tracking. If you are a Creative Cloud user, the font can be saved to Adobe Capture for later syncing, making it more integrated with all of your other Adobe applications, such as Photoshop.
Adobe Capture CC was also updated recently. Some designers prefer its search capability, which is powered by Typekit font library. Others think WhatTheFont is simply more accurate. The best way to determine which is right for you is to work with both of the apps.
There are also online tools that are helpful for casual users who don’t want an immediate answer from their phone. WhatFontIs is the best online tool. At their website, you simply upload a photograph from your mobile device or computer, and then WhatFontIs will give you the options. Identifont helps identify fonts based on your answers to questions, and lets you search fonts based on parameters you choose. Fonts by Sight is another question-based app that helps you identify characteristics of the font. Once you’ve answered the questions, it gives you a list of fonts that match your description.