Does pointed Hebrew display on smart phones?

A place for members to share information and news about books, software, and websites of interest.
Forum rules
Members will observe the rules for respectful discourse at all times!
Please sign all posts with your first and last (family) name.
User avatar
Stephen Hughes
Posts: 59
Joined: Fri Dec 06, 2013 2:53 am

Does pointed Hebrew display on smart phones?

Postby Stephen Hughes » Thu Jul 10, 2014 10:51 am

I need to get a new phone following an immersion event. It is a good time for me to get advice now.

  • Does pointed Hebrew script display on major brand-name smart phones?
  • Are there particular requirements for it working well?
Stephen Hughes BA (Greek), BTh, MA (Egyptology)
וַאֲהַבְתֶּ֖ם אֶת־הַגֵּ֑ר כִּֽי־גֵרִ֥ים הֱיִיתֶ֖ם בְּאֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרָֽיִם׃ (Deut. 10:19)

User avatar
Ken M. Penner
Posts: 83
Joined: Wed Sep 11, 2013 12:31 pm

Re: Does pointed Hebrew display on smart phones?

Postby Ken M. Penner » Thu Jul 10, 2014 12:41 pm

On the iPhone pointed Hebrew displays fine. Typing is a little harder. The standard iOS keyboard only provides unpointed Hebrew.
Ken M. Penner, Ph.D.
St. Francis Xavier University

Posts: 64
Joined: Sat Sep 28, 2013 4:11 pm
Location: West Redding, CT USA

Re: Does pointed Hebrew display on smart phones?

Postby cvkimball » Thu Jul 10, 2014 5:30 pm

Pointed text (from <>) appears correctly on the Chrome browser app provided in the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3. It's not a great font, but completely readable.

Chris Kimball
Redding, CT

Posts: 55
Joined: Sun Oct 27, 2013 9:58 am
Location: Sarasota, FL USA

Re: Does pointed Hebrew display on smart phones?

Postby markofcain » Thu Jul 17, 2014 8:49 pm

Stephen Hughes wrote:Does pointed Hebrew script display on major brand-name smart phones?
Are there particular requirements for it working well?

Here's the answer you don't want:

It depends on the source of the text and how the code is written. If you are wondering about a particular Hebrew Bible app like Olivetree, you'll most likely get an excellent rendering of the Hebrew font on the display. It you are talking about a less robust Hebrew Bible app you might wind up with sacrifices.

If you are asking about web pages, it's a Pandora's Box with several issues beginning with the native or chosen app used to view the page. Many Android phones have a native browser but will also allow for the installation of mobile versions of the major desktop browsers -- Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc... Then the issue moves from the browser to the font. If a font specified on a web page is not found on the device, whether it is a desktop, laptop, phone or tablet, the browser or OS will make an intelligent substitution of the font based on the font family. That substitution is often far from intelligent and is filled with problems -- there is a world of difference between the look of the SBL Hebrew Font and Microsoft's David Font. If a web page specifies SBL Hebrew, but SBL Hebrew is not installed, you might wind up with vastly different and often unacceptable look.

Properly coded web pages are written with what is known as "fall back fonts." When the main font is missing on the target device, rather than allow the browser or OS to make an intelligent font substitution, the web page code controls which font is used secondly, thirdly, etc until one is found, or if none of the fall back fonts is found, the decision of font substitution is again handed back to the device.

With the introduction of Cascading Style Sheets 2.0 web fonts were introduced to solve the issue of getting a web page to look the same on all devices. Basically, what a web font does is that it looks first for the font on the target device and if it is missing, the font is downloaded to the browser and the rendering looks the same on all devices -- all platforms. Great idea! Unfortunately, the method was introduced before major players in the browser market could agree upon a standard. The resultant splintering left the web font standard in more pieces than the concubine of Bethlehem. Netscape settled on Trudoc fonts, IE settled on Embedded Open Type (EOT) fonts which had built in Digital Rights Management, Safari and Opera settled on Scalable Vector Graphic fonts (SVG), Chrome and FireFox settled on True Type Fonts (TTF) and Open Type Fonts (OTF) with fall back to SVG. In recent years there is a growing movement to the Web Open Font Format (WOFF). My head hurts just thinking about it and all of this is suppose to be a solution to a problem.

Now enter the licensing issue -- There is major push back from all font foundries (Adobe, Apple, Bitstream, Linotype, Microsoft, etc) regarding web fonts because it opens the door for the potential use of a font for which you have not paid. Fonts which are more appealing to the eye, more readable and more accurate in their representation of a text are worth more money. So, some fonts are restricted from being used as downloadable web fonts. Some fonts, while free to use, are only available in one or perhaps two of the formats afore mentioned.

When I was building the Hebrew section for, all of these considerations were taken into account to make a Hebrew text that is accurately displayed in target browsers with the goal of a uniform look across the board. Many times I have wondered how such a simple goal of having decent looking text on a wide variety of devices could have resulted in such a complicated issue. (It reminds me of installing Hercules Graphics drivers on IBM PCs in the early 80's.) I dare to say that you will get a very satisfying visual experience with any web page that is written with painstaking attention to detail that I have outlined. But it has been my observation that few websites address the uniform layout and visual experience in such detail. On my website I have fonts in 5 different formats waiting to be downloaded based on your device OS and browser type.

This mess I just recounted is why the SBL Hebrew font is such a blessing to online Hebrew readers with non-mobile devices and increasingly with mobile devices. Get it, use it and promote it.

The bottom line is: find out what sites you want to read clearly, which apps you want to use repeatedly and buy a phone that displays them correctly. If it happens after the fact, consider yourself lucky.
Mark Cain
Sarasota, FL USA

User avatar
Ben Putnam
Posts: 46
Joined: Sun Oct 06, 2013 11:08 am

Re: Does pointed Hebrew display on smart phones?

Postby Ben Putnam » Fri Jul 25, 2014 10:03 am

I have an iPhone 5 with iOS 7.1.2. Here are some screenshots.
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
Ben Putnam

Return to “Resources”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests