Apple releases updated San Francisco, New York fonts, plus SF Symbols

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Developers and users can now use over 3,100 Apple-designed symbols and icons, plus updated fonts, with the company's release of SF Symbols 3.

Apple did not stop designing fonts and icons after Susan Kare completed them for the original Mac, but it definitely slowed down. Then in 2019, it launched SF Symbols, a collection of what was 1,500 icon symbols that were a companion to the company's San Francisco, or SF, font.

Now Apple has updated the collection, and the latest SF Symbols 3 adds 600 symbols, bringing the total to twice the original set.

"With over 3,100 symbols, SF Symbols is a library of iconography designed to integrate seamlessly with San Francisco, the system font for Apple platforms," says Apple on its developer site. "SF Symbols 3 features over 600 new symbols, enhanced color customization, a new inspector, and improved support for custom symbols."

Apple's updated Human Interface Guidelines explains how the company expects, and in some cases requires, developers to use these symbols.

"You can use SF symbols to represent tasks and types of content in a variety of UI elements, such as navigation bars, toolbars, tab bars, context menus, and widgets," say the guidelines. "Throughout the rest of your app, you can use a symbol everywhere you can use an image."

How developers can search the symbols catalog
How developers can search the symbols catalog

As well as the expanded collection of symbols, Apple has released an updated New York font, plus four revised variations on its San Francisco one. This SF is a far cry from the San Francisco "ransom note" font familiar to original Mac users.

Instead, SF Pro, "this neutral, flexible, sans-serif typeface is the system font" for iOS, iPadOS, macOS and tvOS. An SF Compact is optimized for Apple Watch.

SF Symbols 3, and the new fonts, can be downloaded together to the Mac on Apple's developer site. It doesn't require a developer account, but it does need macOS Catalina or later.