16
Jul
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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.

r2

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.

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Roboto 4.2, 4.3, Play Store

Otherwise, there aren't any other readily apparent differences between old, new, and newer.

Roboto Slab

New Roboto isn't all the new Play Store has in its stylesheets though. Take a look at this:

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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.

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Final Thoughts

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.

Liam Spradlin
Liam loves Android, design, user experience, and travel. He doesn't love ill-proportioned letter forms, advertisements made entirely of stock photography, and writing biographical snippets.

  • evolutionx1

    CSI Android Police..

    • Abhigyan

      Well, I believe we've...
      puts on sunglasses
      ... got a new "type" of problem

      YEAHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • nawa

    This is a main Google problem – inconsistency.

    • Christofftofferson

      This is a google advantage - inconsistency.

      • nawa

        Depends how you look at it. To me, it's a disadvantage.

        • Christofftofferson

          Say you don't like one google thing, then you may like another as it isn't the same.
          That's how I looked at it

          • nawa

            Ha, yeah, you have a point

  • Ivaylo Stoyanov

    Still looks horrible on Windows.

    • immo

      I've experienced this, too, and in my case it had one simple reason: I had the Roboto font pack (available from the Android Design Guidelines page) installed in Windows.

      Once you have them installed, the browser (in my case both Firefox and Chrome) tend to use the font already installed in Windows instead of using the webfont instead.
      Problem here: The fonts you download and the webfonts, that are intended to be used, are different, resulting in those ugly looking Roboto parts in many of Google's services.

      The only solution I found: Uninstalling the Roboto pack in Windows forces the browsers to use the webfont, but no more using Roboto in your Windows or Office applications ... you decide.

      • Ivaylo Stoyanov

        That fixed it. Thank you!

      • Vito Cassisi

        As a developer who uses Roboto fonts for vector mockups, this sucks. Surely there's a way to have my cake and eat it too?

        • immo

          I have searched for days and couldn't find a solution... :/

          The easiest way would most likely be to tell the browser that it should use the webfonts even if the font is installed locally. But I haven't found an extension or way to do this for Firefox, which is my main browser.

          I know this sucks, actually a lot, as I had to finish my bachelor thesis, where I used Roboto, to finally be able to uninstall the fonts again.

          I would be VERY glad, if someone finds or knows a way around this, but so far I have found this to be the only solution.

          PS: Another way that just came to my mind: Modify the Roboto font files and rename them somehow, so that you can use it locally while the browser doesn't find it under its original name and therefore uses the webfonts. Anyone know how to do this?

          • voythas

            Sure, just use FontLab or something to edit font-family name :)

        • Richard Ashton
      • akshay7394

        Wow, that sucks. :/ I use Roboto on all my reports, it's gorgeous. I don't want to have to uninstall it :(

  • Duncankrebbers

    I found the Slab font :) In the editors Choice section the intro-text and title of the page are written in Slab Thin. https://play.google.com/store/apps/collection/editors_choice

  • Nasko Hristov

    Google trolling....again.

  • WilliamSurname

    Have they included an interrobang in the font pack yet?

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      No sign of an interrobang as far as I can tell. That's not to say they won't add one later.

  • Amer Khaznadar

    There's a phrase of some kind missing from the intro:
    "For this post, we'll mainly look at Roboto Thin, as it's

    That's not it though."

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      Fixed, thanks!

  • http://www.zone38.net/ codeman38

    For what it's worth, the Play Store version of Roboto is the same one that's been in the Google Fonts Mercurial repo for a couple months. Its version number is 1.000140, which is between the builds used in Android 4.2 (1.00000) and 4.3 (1.200310).

  • Cody Curry

    Okay, even I'm tempted to make a fragmentation joke here...