When Matias Duarte left Palm for Google, we knew great things were coming to Android. Marias probably had his biggest impact with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, and one of the key components is the new typeface Roboto. Recently, he decided to use Google+ as a way to talk more about how its evolution.
The original Droid font worked well, but with screen resolutions now at high definition levels, a change was needed. They wanted to create something that matched their ambitious design goals for Ice Cream Sandwich. It had to be attractive, eye-catching, modern, crisp, and structured. Most importantly, it needed to make Android appealing, enchanting, and more human.
In the end, the new font needed to take maximum advantage of high density screens, but still be crisp and legible on lower resolution screens.
The next step was to actually make the font. They needed a strong geometric backbone to hold up to their new open “Magazine UI” layouts. They looked at some circle based geometrics like Avenir and Futura, but they ended up settling on a straight sided grotesk. Grotesk still had its issues as its structured evenness of the type made it more difficult to read. They softened the lower case letters and opened up some of the glyphs to get a more diverse rhythm. With a little more divirsity to the lower case, it became more readable.
This had to be a lot of work, but interestingly enough, their work isn’t done. They continue to extend the character set so it works as well on computers as it does on Android devices.