Stephen Hall writing for 9to5Google:
Another aspect that is becoming more and more obvious, at least among Google’s first party apps that we’ve seen so far, is the adoption of “Google Sans” as a font for headers — but notably not as a complete replacement for the long-beloved Roboto. Basically, Google Sans is a version of Product Sans (Google’s proprietary font for its namesake logo and other product logos) that it’s been using across some web apps and pages, and lately, its Android apps.
Google uses the new font on its recently-refreshed Wear OS site, for email headers in the new Gmail, in many apps in the Google Tasks app and the new Google I/O 2018, and in plenty more places I’m probably not yet aware of.
Looking towards the future of Material, one concern I have, which has been somewhat echoed by Nick Heer at Pixel Envy, is the use of Google’s in-house designed Google Sans logo/typeface across the UI.
Previously, Google kept the usage of this to very specific situations, specified by the company as product lockups, identity materials, and obviously their logotype but nothing specifically related to UI such as page titles, buttons, etc. Lately, it has appeared in the “At a Glance” on the Pixel Launcher but it has otherwise stayed away from the OS.
Now, since releasing the Android P preview, the Gmail redesign, and the new Tasks app, it’s popped up all over the place and without much rhyme or reason. In Android P, Google Sans appears as the typeface on actions, which look out of place compared to the previous styling of this element. In the updated Gmail, it’s applied to the compose button and the various inboxes users can have. In tasks, it’s all over the place and appears inconsistently based on what the user is doing. I assume the documentation for this will get updated following I/O but until then it feels pretty out of control.
On a related note, Roboto is a great typeface. It displays great on screens, is legible at small sizes, and has a great family of weights that help diversify the look of it. It does not, in my opinion, compliment Google Sans.
I’m really interested in a number of aspects of Material Design 2, refresh or whatever they end up calling it. I love the colours and simple icons. I’m just concerned that Google will be taking a typeface that was clearly designed for one purpose and forcing it onto its products to create unity while, in fact, having the exact opposite effect.