Roboto Font has a dual nature. It has a mechanical skeleton and the forms are largely geometric. At the same time, the font features friendly and open curves. While some grotesques distort their letterforms to force a rigid rhythm, Roboto Font doesn’t compromise, allowing letters to be settled into their natural width. This makes for a more natural reading rhythm more commonly found in humanist and serif types.
The font was designed entirely in-house by Christian Robertson who previously had released an expanded Ubuntu-Title font through his personal type foundry Beta type. The font was officially made available for free download on January 12, 2012, on the newly launched Android Design website.
Compared to Android’s previous system font, the humanist sans-serif Droid, Roboto belongs to the neo-grotesque genre of sans-serif typefaces. It includes Thin, Light, Regular, Medium, Bold and Black weights with matching oblique styles rather than true italics. It also includes condensed styles in Light, Regular and Bold, also with matching oblique designs.
This typeface received variable reviews on its release. Joshua Topolsky, Editor-In-Chief of technology news and media network The Verge, describes the font as “clean and modern, but not overly futuristic – not a science fiction font”. However, typography commentator Stephen Coles of typographica.org called the initial release of Roboto “a Four-headed Frankenfont”, describing it as a “hodgepodge” of different typographic styles which do not work well together. Other type design professionals called out obvious errors in accented glyphs, while John Gruber called the font a “Helvetica ripoff”.
This is the regular family, which can be used alongside the Roboto Condensed family and the Roboto Slab family.