A beta for OpenType 1.9 has been published for two-week public review. This version introduces a significant enhancement in OpenType: a second version of the COLR table (version 1) for color fonts. The new COLR version provide support for gradients and other capabilities in vector colour fonts; the capabilities are very similar to those in SVG Native but can be used in applications that do not have or (for whatever reasons) cannot add support SVG. The new COLR version also provides greater integration with font variations—something that is not supported at all with OT-SVG.
The COLR enhancements were designed jointly with Google, who have been implementing support in the FontTools project, the Skia and Freetype libraries, and in Chrome. It can be tested already in the Chrome Canary builds by browsing to chrome://flags/#colr-v1-fonts to enable the feature. Sample fonts using COLR v1 (with OT-SVG equivalents for comparison) are available at https://github.com/googlefonts/color-fonts.
OpenType 1.9 also addresses a number of feedback items that have been reported on the OpenType spec. Among the more significant technical improvements are clarifications of several items related to TrueType outlines and the TrueType hinting language.
The landing page for the beta is at https://docs.microsoft.com/typography/opentype/otspec190/ot190beta. The public review period will end November 26, and the new version will be published shortly after that.
Particular thanks are due to Behdad Esfahbod, Dominik Röttsches, Rod Sheeter, Cosimo Lupo and Dave Crossland for their contribution to and support of the work on COLR v1; to Greg Hitchcock for several contributions including many details regarding TrueType; and to John Hudson, Laurence Penney, any many others who reported issues or contributed valuable input that went into this version.