A couple of weeks ago, we were very excited to find a new, revised version of the Roboto family hiding in a leaked Android 4.3 build. Since then, I've been keeping an eye out for any more Roboto goings on.
With the new Play Store web portal having launched today, I thought I'd check in and see if it was using the new version of Roboto we reported on before. As it turns out, it isn't. It's using another version of Roboto, pared down to just over 200 glyphs (compared to over 1000).
That's not it though.
(Another) New Roboto
What first tipped me off to the difference was Roboto Thin's lowercase "m". This was a tell-tale marker for the new Roboto, since the old Roboto Thin's "m" had several kinks and anchors overlaying stems causing bumps. In the version of the font we wrote about in the first Typeface Teardown, that problem (along with issues concerning the p, d, b, q, n, and other characters) was solved. But in this version, just one of the kinks has returned.
Left black: old Roboto Thin, red: 4.3 Roboto Thin. Right: Play Store Roboto Thin
Happily, the issues with the other characters listed above are solved in the Play Store version. In fact, most of the letter forms are identical between the Play Store's Roboto and that found in 4.3.
Strangely though, the punctuation marks have switched back again, going from the smooth curves we were excited about last time to an angled comma. What's stranger is that it's not even the same angled comma from the old Roboto. This one, rather than a straight left face, juts out. In the end, this is probably more natural feeling than the original, but not as visually pleasing as the rounded version.
Roboto 4.2, 4.3, Play Store
Otherwise, there aren't any other readily apparent differences between old, new, and newer.
New Roboto isn't all the new Play Store has in its stylesheets though. Take a look at this:
Yes, Roboto Slab is lurking in the new Play Store web portal. Interestingly, I only noticed the Thin, Light, and Bold weights. The only one missing is Regular.
These versions of Roboto Slab appear to be just the same as the fonts packed into Google Keep. What I can't figure out (yet), is where Roboto Slab currently appears in the new Play Store. If you've seen it, let me know.
Update: As Duncankrebbers points out in the comments, Roboto Slab's presence isn't such a mystery after all. It appears in the Editor's Choice apps list along with the promotional text for special offers as Walkop points out.
It's difficult to account for the differences between versions of Roboto found in 4.2, 4.3, and the new Play Store. Are there different packages for different purposes? Certainly a pared down character set makes some sense in optimizing the Play Store, but what's with the different symbols? The "m" relapse? The presence of the new 200 glyphs raises more questions than it answers, but one thing's for certain – Roboto is still changing, and still a font worth keeping an eye on.