Okay. A lot of people sent me mail about “Font Families And Faces In iOS5“. Talking fonts tends to do that – geeks are passionate about typefaces. But blend in comments that are anything less-than-enthusiastic about Android and you get a mailbox full of seething vitriol from the assembled masses.
Seething Vitriol would be a cool name for a band.
Anyway. The angry residents of Androidville protested en masse that any sort of discussion of the Droid font was completely moot and the ravings of an ill-informed boob at this point, since Ice Cream Sandwich has a new set of system fonts called Roboto and they are “awesome”.
You poor, sad, Flav-R-Aid drinking fanboys. Yes, Ice Cream Sandwich (hereafter referred to as Android 4 because Ice Cream Sandwich is about the most jarheaded name for an operating system ever) has replaced the horrid Droid fonts with a new family called Roboto. But Roboto is anything but awesome – it’s pretty much Android’s answer to Arial, just another quick and dirty Helvetica ripoff – and regardless, the chances of it showing up on any existing Android devices are pretty much zero.
Why? Because, despite the fact that Android 4 can technically run on any of the existing devices that are currently packing 2.3 it will never ever be “officially” offered for those devices. Why? Because the “open” nature of Android means that your handset maker and your service provider control your handset, not you. And for them to offer an upgrade would mean spending time and money, neither of which they are particularly inspired to do under the best of circumstances, and certainly not if it means extending the life of your existing handset instead of chivvying you into buying a new one.
Look – if you went out yesterday and plunked your hard-earned coin down on a brand new and as-of-right-now top of the line Samsung Galaxy S II (a very nice piece of hardware) you came home with a phone that running an operating system that was already two versions out of date. And unless you root the phone (and, according to Samsung, completely and forever void your warranty) you have no way at all to update it. Neither Samsung nor your wireless carrier give a rat’s ass about you once you walk out the door. They’ve got your money, and if they aren’t going to go through the minor effort to offer you the upgrades from 2.3.5 to 2.3.6 to 2.3.7, they sure as hell aren’t going to bust their asses to bring you a big-ass update to version 4.
Bottom line: There are new system font faces built into Android, but they are still Steve Perry ugly, and if you want them you are going to be ponying up for new hardware to get ’em.