Google introduces reading-optimized Roboto serif typeface

Google has introduced a new typeface called Roboto Serif which, according to its announcement, was designed to provide an optimal reading experience on practically any device.

Roboto debuted as an Android system font in 2014. Mono, after that sans serif, takes on the slab, and condensed typefaces that Google calls the “roboto superfamily.” Roboto itself has also been updated over the years to improve various aspects of its presentation.

Now the superfamily is expanding with Roboto Serif. Google says the new font was designed by Commercial Type, and unlike other Roboto typefaces, it was not constrained by the design of the original sans serif. Instead the commercial variant was allowed to design the Roboto Serif from scratch.

The result is a variable font that provides “weight, width, grade and optical size axes” so that designers can modify its appearance to their liking. It’s going to let Roboto Serif work on one smartphone and one ultrawide monitor for every device in between. (Plus, you know, paper.)

“In some ways, this is a proof of concept in the world for variable fonts,” commercial type designer Greg Gazdowicz said in a statement. “We wanted to create a showpiece of vanilla text typefaces that can be finely adjusted for comfortable reading.”

Roboto Serif is open source and available through Google Fonts. Google has also published a guide, “Getting Comfort with Roboto Serif,” with more details about its design and instructions to “do yoga exercises for your eyes after a long day of screen time.” (And the rest.)

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