Monday, February 15, 2010

Does your computer have a Droid yet?

Forget about Marvin, the Paranoid Android, or R2D2. Rather consider the fonts in the Android operating system. These could become as common and widely used as Arial or Tahoma. And since they are free, they are likely to be included in many flavours of Linux, particularly Google's own Chrome OS. I'm surprised they aren't installed when you install the Chrome browser.
Yesterday I installed Ubuntu 9.10 Desktop on my test FRAGG computer, to see how well the Firefox and Chrome browsers work with my test web site. I must say I was a bit disappointed because Ubuntu doesn't include Tahoma, my favourite font. But since it's a Microsoft font, its hardly surprising either. FreeSans is a perfectly good clone of Arial, but there doesn't seem to be anything close to Tahoma. Enter Droid Sans. Its not identical, but close enough.
In this screen shot of both Windows versions of the fonts, Tahoma is at the top. My guess is that in a year or so, Droid Sans will be on more devices than Tahoma, especially if the Chrome OS becomes the most popular Netbook operating system, which Google is hoping to achieve. You can download the Windows version of Droid here. As an experiment I have changed Ubuntu to use it as the system fonts, and re-engineered the Mustang site to prefer Droid Sans over Tahoma. It looks pretty good, too.
Update Wed 17 Feb: After fiddling around with the Droid fonts for a few more days, I have updated the design of this blog to use Droid Serif (replacing Georgia), and created a quick font installer utility to install the fonts in Windows (645,481 bytes, i.e. 630kb).

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