Hello, Helvetica

16 June 2010

The Notes app on the iPhone is darn near perfect – and about to get a whole lot better with over the air syncing via MobileMe in iOS 4. My only gripe is the use of Marker Felt. I know I’m not alone.

There are ways to hack the Notes app to use Helvetica, but they all require SSH access, or, in other words, a jailbroken iPhone. I just discovered an easier way that doesn’t require hackery and takes just a few seconds to set up.

Open the Settings app and tap on General.

hh-settings.jpg

Then tap on Keyboard.

hh-keyboard.jpg

Then tap International Keyboards.

hh-intlkeyboards.jpg

Then tap on Chinese - Simplified (Handwriting).

hh-simpchinese.jpg

Now go back to your home screen and open the Notes app. Select a note, and tap anywhere to bring up the keyboard. Now tap on the International Keyboards key to bring up the character drawing interface.

hh-intlkey.jpg

Draw a line, and the font your note uses will change to Helvetica.

hh-chinesedraw.jpg

Tap Done. Hello, Helvetica.

The obvious drawbacks to this method are that (1) you have to repeat the last few steps for every note you edit or start, and (2) you now have another key taking up space in your keyboard, which effectively halves the size of the Number/Symbol key.

Still, Helvetica.