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I have seen on various places that people consider Droid font family with contempt. In latest Android it has been replaced with another family called Roboto.

I'm interested in why is that, from typography standpoint? What is wrong with it? To me, as a layman, it looks nice (I even use it as a main font on my OS).

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I hope that this question is not misinterpreted as argumentative, since it really is an interesting question. A good answer could address, in the general case, what qualities are desirable in a font family, and more specifically what influence the target medium (print, LCD screen, small size, etc.) has on font selection. –  Sean Nov 23 '11 at 7:04
    
Barney Stinson would say: "New is always better" (SCNR) –  ueberkim Nov 23 '11 at 11:07
    
I must say that I used Droid Sans in a website last year and its rendering varied across browsers and devices from lovely to downright poopy. Perhaps, other than its intentional design for higher res devices, Roboto renders more consistently? –  huzzah Jun 5 '12 at 16:01
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My main let down was the same Heather points out: Droid renders horribly as a font-face. –  Yisela Jun 5 '12 at 20:22
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3 Answers

There is nothing wrong with Droid fonts. As we know when we have something better everyone moves towards them same thing happened with Droid fonts.

"When we announced Ice Cream Sandwich, we also got a chance to introduce Android’s new typeface Roboto", says Matias Duarte, Android’s User Experience guru.

According to Android Tablet blog:

The reason for the new change is — the old Droid font was made for lower res devices and wasn’t displaying correctly on the now official 1280×800 screen resolution.

So they introduced something new, which GottaBeMobile described as:

It was built from scratch and made specifically for high density displays. Google describes it has having a “dual nature. It has a mechanical skeleton and the forms are largely geometric. At the same time the font’s sweeping semi-circular curves give it a cheerful demeanor.

Here are some more links about this change. Give them a read.

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Thanks for the answer, it has certainly deserved an upvote. However, I would be interested in what would mean "at larger more dramatic headline sizes, Droid struggled to achieve both the openness and information density" (from Matias Duarte's post above)? –  Mladen Jablanović Nov 23 '11 at 15:13
    
you and me both. I would be interested in real-world examples especially of the problems with low-density display rendering. All I see are assertions. When reading some of those articles, I am reminded of a few things from art history: "never use green," and the subject matter hierarchy (history, portrait, genre, landscape, animal, still life), both of which are 90% BS. –  horatio Nov 23 '11 at 17:40
    
Note that at present, Roboto looks to be sans-serif only (?) –  horatio Nov 23 '11 at 17:42
    
Nice answer, Jack. The silliest aspect of the "controversy" to me is the admission by the critics that they've not yet seen Roboto on an actual phone. That's like dissing a recipe you've not tasted yet. –  Alan Gilbertson Nov 23 '11 at 20:12
    
As an update, here's some recent critique of Roboto (I'm not saying if I agree or not) typographica.org/2011/on-typography/… –  DA01 Feb 4 '12 at 3:37
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Droid Sans doesn't have separately designed italic glyphs, but relies on browsers to "fake" italics by adding slant. Hence the inconsistent rendering.

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Roboto was definitely an upgrade from Droid Sans. They created a sharp typeface with a more modern feel.

As far as Matias is concerned, it seems like a lot of his answers to decisions made are mostly fluff.

Simply put, Droid Sans (because of the way it was built) was made for smaller physical devices sizes (better readability), and now that displays are being created with more and more pixels, they can create something that feels a bit softer, and more progressive.

I know that most of you think that the articles are BS, and I assure you that most of them probably are, but implementing Roboto was indeed a good decision. Things move forward with technology, even typefaces ;)

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