There's nothing quite as silently satisfying as a good font

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from  Kansas City, MO
| July 20, 2014


Alright, so I have to confess: When I decided to write this article up, I did realize that it was probably one of the most unexciting topics anybody could have chosen to write about, but surprisingly there's a lot to say about it. Fonts, typefaces, or whatever you want to call them these days, as you probably already know, is the type of design used for lettering. Fonts are everywhere, including our own personal gadgets that we tote around with us on a day-to-day basis: computers, tablets, smartphones, handheld consoles, eReaders - you name it, it uses at least one font.


These fonts also come with names for easy identification. For instance, iOS has always used some type of font from the Helvetica family, whether it’s Helvetica or, most recently, Helvetica Neue; Android (present day) uses a font family called Roboto; Windows Phone uses Segoe WP; and BlackBerry 10 uses Slate Pro. Each of these fonts are completely readable, yet each has subtle design differences that you’re likely to notice from platform to platform.


At this point you have to be wondering why anyone would actually want to write about this. To answer this simply, it comes down to the fact that at one point in my life I realized I could actually change the font of my entire phone once I discovered how to root my Android device. For an entire month I was trying out font after font to see which one I liked best, to the point where I pretty much changed my system’s font once a day. It became a strange interest of mine, one that not a lot of people quite understood.


Those days are pretty far behind me. I can’t remember the last time I thought to myself “My phone could use a good font change today.” However, upon stumbling across this article stating that Google was chipping away at creating the “font of the future”, memories of trying to find the perfect typeface for my phone came flooding back to me. It seems like such a petty feature (if you can even call it a feature), but when I think about it, there was a point in time where I actually did notice the font on my phone.


The first time was with my Samsung Galaxy Vibrant, which was the first Android phone that gave me the option to change my font without digging any deeper than the surface of the phone. The ability to change my font (although there were maybe only four choices or so) system-wide was such an interesting feature to me that I became disappointed when I realized that it was strictly a Samsung thing at the time, not an Android thing. When I lost the option to change my font when I switched to the HTC MyTouch 3G Slide, or really any non-Samsung phone after that, it was kind of a disappointment. Of course with Android you had the option to download 3rd party apps and launchers that could change your font that way, but it just wasn’t the same.


I eventually gave up the whole custom font thing when I got my hands on my trusty iPhone 4S, because at first I was anything but enthusiastic about jailbreaking my phone. It turned out to be okay, because I realized that I actually really liked Helvetica. It was nicely spaced, easily readable, and it just looked clean. I don’t know how to describe it. Rest assured, when I went back to Android with the HTC One, I do remember taking a few days to find various fonts that I thought would look nice on the phone. That was about as far as that went, though, and eventually I just dealt with the standard font used on the phone. I don’t think I ever attempted a font change in my Moto X.


As I said, I know it’s a meticulous subject, but stumbling across that article made me smile. At first I thought, “Who really cares about fonts?” and then I remembered. Oh, yeah. I cared about fonts. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that having a good font on your phone really is kind of a big deal. If you showed me a phone that used Comic Sans MS or even something like Courier, I would turn my nose up at it in an instant. We do notice when a font looks exceptionally good (or bad) to us - I mean, we have to read text written in this font for as long as we own and use the gadget, so why wouldn’t we want to have a good one on there?


So, readers, when it comes down to fonts - as silly as it might seem - does it end up being an important part of your phone to you? Serial customizers, what font do you currently use on your phone? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!