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Apple designed a custom typeface for the Apple Watch, just like Google did for Android

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Apple Watch vs. Roboto 1

Typefaces are a funny thing: to the untrained eye, they can be difficult to tell apart, yet they can make a world of difference in the design and usability of a product. Apple recently swapped Helvetica for Helvetica Neue in iOS and Lucida Grande for Helvetica Neue in OS X Yosemite — but for the Apple Watch, it went a little deeper.

The Watch features a new typeface that Apple designed in-house "to maximize legibility," it says — a noble and important goal when you're dealing with a particularly small display. Interestingly, Google's Roboto was designed with some of the same goals in mind when it rolled out with Android 4.0 almost three years ago.

I almost immediately noticed similarities to Roboto when Apple showed the Watch on stage today, which makes sense: a simple, light, sans serif font lends itself to maximum legibility. With these looping GIFs comparing the Apple Watch against a theoretical version that uses Roboto, you can get a better sense of where these two modern font sets diverge and intersect. (Note that this is the original Roboto, not the new version that'll be released with Android "L" later this year.)

Apple Watch vs. Roboto 2-up

Apple Watch hands-on