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Readability 2.0

Mission: Meet or Exceed iOS Readability, establish Firefox for Android as the most readable browser out there



Where are we? As of 05/09/14

  • Open Source Fonts
    • bug 831354 - Ship fonts for content in Firefox for Android
  • Font Inflation
    • bug 777089 - consider changing size mapping function for font inflation
  • Double Tap to Reflow on Zoom
    • bug 847872 - Only reflow zoom on double tap
    • bug 900564 - Remove 'double tap to reflow' from settings (from beta and GA)


Readability Team

Eng Management: blassey, mfinkle, madhava, jet
elancaster: pgm
sjohnson (irc: jwir3):layout
jkew (irc: jfkthame):layout
ian: UX
kats: mobile platform

Team members request iOS iPod Touch devices here:

Useful Links

Competitive Analysis

  • Opera/Stock browser uses reflow on zoom
    • There are issues with this, namely there are problems that occur on Opera Mobile when panning after a zoom.
    • Speed is an issue on Opera Mobile, too. Takes on the order of 2-4 seconds (on a Galaxy SII) for the reflow to complete after a zoom. Zooming back out seems to be much faster, though. Perhaps they do some sort of caching of the original reflow or something?
  • Chrome does inflation & reflow
  • Chrome doesn't do reflow on gesture. Kerning/linespacing isn't as nice
  • iOS is generally seen as better than Android
    • iPhone preserves appearance more than boost readability
    • iOS hides their font inflation well (less intrusive)
      • Also less aggressive, meaning that readability is sometimes sacrificed for layout (which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I thought I would point it out).
    • iOS more reliably picks the "correct" web font (see for ex.)

(may just be fennec bugs there)

UX Themes

  • Balance Legibility vs. Beauty
  • Font Rendering at zoom levels
  • Use smaller fonts on a page, if rendered more crisply
  • Improved letterspacing/kerning
  • What is the user really wanting to see/read? Need this info from the front end to the layout engine
  • Open Question: Meet or exceed the iPhone in aggregate vs. individual features?
  • Font hinting keyed to a particular size/zoom
  • Basic Typography Features are slightly better on iOS than Android - UPDATE: An initial comparison of iOS Safari to Nightly 17 on Android

Implementation Considerations

  • Question: How much should we revisit font inflation decisions?
  • Shipping our own fonts to replace:
    • verdana, georgia, times
    • droid sans, serf
    • Ship better readable fonts. ( Adobe Myriad 'sans', Minion 'serif' as Arial/Helv/Times)
    • We already have an app specific font directory
    • Latin vs. non-latin basically the same rules (re: inflation)
  • Fennec Reader Mode (Lucas Rocha)
    • Open question: Where else other than the browser to have Readability features? e-mail client? other apps?
    • extract articles, headlines, typeset for readability
    • API
  • Readability stylesheets for reading (1 or many?)
  • Ultra-high Density Display Support
  • Very Low Density Display Support (B2G @ 320 x 480)
  • Text-size-adjust standardization?
  • We have our own text engine, but not our own fonts. Can we leverage that?