Recently I asked these questions on Twitter:
Are you designing with variable fonts? Do you feel like you understand them?
People’s answers vary quite a bit. I shared my own answers, too. Then, after my friend Erik made an analogy to understanding Unicode, I extended this analogy to emoji UI:
Using variable fonts today is like looking up smiley faces in Unicode code charts. You can do fine if you try. But compare that to using emoji in iOS. UI needs to help show that variable fonts are fun and easy — stacks of sliders are not.
It’s high time for innovation in typographic experiences generally, but boring and technical variable font interfaces and workflows will continue to block all but a few people from enjoying and expressing the format’s capabilities.