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Google details Roboto font in Android Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0

Director of Android operating system User Experience at Google Matias Duarte has out lined the new type face for the latest version of Android, in a detained explanation of its origin.

Matias Duarte made public all the information in a posting on his Goolge + account, which starts by explaining why the old Droid font was replaced and why they made the new type face to the operating system.

The posting mentions that: ‘Droid was designed and optimized for screens that were much lower in pixel density than today’s HD displays’ hence the need to be replaced. ‘To be legible at smaller sizes, and to avoid turning to anti-aliased grey mush, the letter forms had to be quite dramatic. They had a tall x-height and a very regular rhythm so that they snapped to the pixel grid crisply.’

‘It’s no surprise that on high rez screens, and at larger more dramatic headline sizes, Droid struggled to achieve both the openness and information density we wanted in Ice Cream Sandwich.’ – stated Matias Duarte.

He went on to state – ‘Most important was to create something that matched our ambitious design goals for Ice Cream Sandwich.’, ‘We wanted to take maximum advantage of ultra high density screens like that of Galaxy Nexus, yet still be crisp and legible on lower resolution displays like that of Nexus S.’

Whilst ending with: ‘We got rid of the boxes and bevels, dividers and other structural crutches, the more humanist fonts of our legacy felt uncomfortable and a little chaotic. Naturally we looked at some of the circle based geometrics like Avenir and Futura, but they’re very demanding in the rhythm of their metrics and ultimately were a little too soft for the crisp corners that we were using in the UI. The breakthrough came quickly when we settled on a straight sided grotesk.’


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Rob Kerr is a journalist with more than 14 years experience of news, reviews and feature writing on titles such as Wired, PC Magazine, The Register, The Inquirer, Pocket-Lint, Mobile Industry Review, Know Your Mobile and The Gadget Show. The mobile phone world is his real passion and forte, having owned a handset as far back as 1994 where he has seen them grow from just a business tool to a necessity in everyone’s everyday life.