I don’t think Apple has ever promoted Helvetica Neue as being more legible than, say, Lucida Grande. Apple has moved to Helvetica because it’s more attractive, and, with modern display resolutions (especially retina displays), Helvetica is legible enough. One may fairly argue that legibility should always trump aesthetics — but one could argue thus for all font choices, not just UI fonts.
The same was true of Mac OS X 10.0’s pervasive system-wide anti-aliasing. It was less legible but more aesthetically pleasing. In the long run, as displays got better and better, people stopped complaining about it.
If I’m complaining less, it’s only because I’ve lost hope that Apple is ever going to make legibility a priority. Retina displays are not yet widely available on Macs. Even where they are available, Apple has found ways to reduce legibility.
Update (2014-08-19): David Barnard:
I’m just not sure I can ever get on board with the new “to hell with legibility” Apple.
Update (2014-08-23): Ken Segall:
That’s not the only crime against fonts committed in this video. It opens with the following screen, featuring text over an image.
Thin white type over a light image? Unless this was designed to be some kind of eye test, it is in gross violation of Apple readability standards.
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