For any font size 20px or greater, in a native font (i.e. San Francisco on a Mac, Segoe UI on Windows), Chrome 81 doesn’t render bold correctly. Font weights declared as bold instead render as normal font weight. Back on March 2, the team knew that this was a problem in Chrome 81:

Marking as P1 blocking for now, until severity / whether it’s intended is assessed. It is in M81 beta but not M80 stable.

After much discussion, the team decided that this wouldn’t block the release of 81. Better yet, they didn’t get it fixed in 82. They’re “punting the bug to M83” which won’t be released until sometime in June.

The only reason you aren’t seeing people complaining up and down on sites like GitHub that heavily utilize native fonts is because GitHub doesn’t use bold font weights at those font sizes. On the other hand, uses native fonts as its primary font family, and it liberally uses bold at sizes larger than 19px.1 It stands out like a sore thumb. And we’re stuck with this Chrome bug for months.

It boggles my mind how a bug this serious could be treated in such a cavalier fashion by the Chromium team. Back in the day, just about the only thing a browser could do was render text. That should be a core competency. What gives?

  1. I’m referring to units of pixels for clarity but the astute sleuther will observe that is migrating from px to em and rem units, since that’s where the puck seems headed. ↩︎