- Where do Emoji Come From?
- 25 Fun Facts about the History of Emojis
- How Do You Use an Emoji in a Text Message?
- Animoji Update 2018
- The Future of Emoji
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Confused about that side smirk 😏 he just sent? Is he laughing at something you said? Or is it one of those emoji guys use to flirt? Is he genuinely interested or just amused in general? The confusion can become equivalent to stress. Here are some interesting facts about emojis.
So how do you respond? Perhaps with another equally confusing emoji. The one with the angel face 😇 is a suitable reply. After all, it is a relatively new vocabulary, though growing the most rapidly out of all others.
Since at least 4000 years ago, we have communicated using pictures (both Egyptian and Mesopotamian hieroglyphs are over 4,000 years old).
Despite this, only a few years ago we couldn’t have imagined how standard and expressive emojis would be.
❓ What is an Emoji?
Simply put, an emoji is a visual representation of a symbol, object, or emotion. It’s so commonplace on social media platforms now that you can access the emoji keyboard with a simple key tap on your phone.
The word “emoji” was added to the Oxford dictionary in 2015. Originally a Japanese word, it means “picture message”. No wonder the country that’s so technologically advanced came up with another way of communicating ideas and comments through mere pictures.
But emoji are also much more than just a millennial trend. It would be appropriate to refer to these icons as more primitive than just a fad. A product of digitalisation, they bring emotional nuance to otherwise plain text. “I understand” can sound formal or passive, but a red heart ❤ at the end conveys sympathy and warmth along with the message.
They’re not even limited to just casual conversations anymore. No manager would begrudge you, sending a smiley at the end of a pleasantry. Even Skype for Business, a communication application built specifically for organisations, supports emoji reactions to messages, where a simple 👍 means message acknowledged.
The New Lingua Franca: What Do They Mean?
They’re not just for people that use “tbh, lol, omg, ngl”. They’re for everyone. It’s more important to know what they mean rather than their manufacturing process. You don’t want your well-meaning cheeky grin 😁 mistaken as a sign of mischief. You can avoid awkward situations by double-checking the emoji’s meaning.
We’re all familiar with emoticons, the older sibling of emoji. They’ve been replaced by the better, advanced, and more evolved sibling. While a character combination makes up one, the other is an object in the text. You don’t have to angle your head sideways anymore to decode the emotion someone was expressing.
Such widespread use of these hieroglyphics puts constant pressure on designers and innovators at big tech. If they are a universal language, the jargon needs to evolve across time ⏳, screens 📱, and cultures 🎅.
Dating apps like Tinder were quick to incorporate emoji on their platforms. They know the multitude of meanings these pictorial representations hold and the layers of emotions and ideas they communicate.
A red heart emoji ❤ can sometimes be sufficient between a couple separated by distance but connected through their phones. Sent at a random time, it could let your partner know you’re thinking of them without using words.
Today, thousands of emoji represent and express the objects we interact with; Halloween 🎃, tropical drinks 🍹, places to travel 🗼, and even clothes 👘. As digitalisation trudges forward in a globalised era, emojis quickly become the lingua franca.
Where do Emoji Come From?
From the smiley emoticon 🙂 and face of ambivalence ¯_(ツ)_/¯ to the most used emoji for three years running, the face with tears of joy 😂, expressing emotions via text has evolved tremendously.
📜 A Brief History
There is some controversy about which organisation it was that first came up with the idea. The Japanese carrier Docomo launched support for emoji in 1999. Still, newfound evidence shows that, two years prior, Softbank Japan had already launched a phone that supported the use of 90 different emojis.
Japanese artist Shigetka Kurita in 1999, launched 176 different images that he sketched on a 12 x 12-pixel set. These images could be selected from a grid similar to a keyboard and sent directly to phones as text messages.
This collection, thought to be the precursor of the modern emoji lexicon today, is displayed as part of the permanent collection at New York’s Museum of Modern Arts (MOMA). The collection includes images that depict traffic (aeroplane, ship, car), technology (tv, cellphone), the weather (umbrella, clouds), and even phases of the moon.
Even though these earlier versions of modern emoji look pixelated, it’s the meaning they hold concerning the context of the conversation. Accuracy or resolution was never an issue with emojis. It’s the fact that you can convey so much with such little effort. Their ability to express ideas in surprising and unique ways is instrumental.
As emoji became the talk of the town, so to say, Japanese companies competed against each other to copy Docomo’s idea, and emoji exploded in popularity. Apple was quick to join this bandwagon and saw the potential for the concept.
In 2007, a team at Google campaigned to get emoji recognised by the Unicode Consortium, a body much like the United Nations that standardises text protocols for computers. Engineers joined them at Apple in 2009, and in 2010, Unicode finally indexed emoji as a standard in texts across the world. They’d become too popular to ignore.
🐒 The Evolution of Emoji
Here is the timeline and a brief history of Emojis evolution.
Emojis are introduced, with icons for technology, time, weather, etc.
Unicode accepts the introduction of emojis.
Apple adds the official emoji keyboard to iOS.
(Wondering how to use emoji on mac? Just press Control + Command + Spacebar to open a small window overlay.)
The Great Emoji Politicisation and digital acknowledgement of cultures to become inclusive begins.
Emojis revamp takes place with new skin tones and depictions of same-sex couples.
(What is the most used emoji on Twitter for six years running? The face with tears of joy 😂)
2016 – Onwards
New emoji are added regularly, with non-conventional ones like the pride flag, single dad, weightlifting woman, and icons that convey messages across languages, such as a mosquito to represent malaria.
As emoji popularity boomed in the past decade following their adoption by Unicode, they became more plentiful as well. The Consortium adds dozens more emoji to its approved list every year, with depictions worldwide, including plants, animals, food, and even the emoji bride.
It was only a matter of time before people began to question some design aspects of emojis, such as why were all the professions (doctor, policeman, lawyer) represented exclusively by men? And why does this digital language overwhelmingly show them to be white? Why does sushi have six different representations, but tacos and enchiladas have none?
In the last half-decade, people began to question the absence of emojis that represent “people of colour” and “women with jobs”. Were there no words to express these ideas in the new and upcoming digital language? There was a flag for Israel but none for Palestine. Such discrimination in the 21st century does not go unnoticed.
Emojis have become this effortless visual technology and symbols that shape how we communicate and think about imagery and icons. With over 3,300 recognised by Unicode in 2020, it’s wise to use a wiki such as Emojipedia.
25 Fun Facts about the History of Emojis
Ever wondered what emoji guys use when they love you? If women stick to the kiss mark 💋, do guys prefer the kissy-face 😘? It turns out potential couples use a range of emojis, including the grinning face with sweat 😅 and the monkey-see emoji 🙈.
Here’s a list of interesting facts about emojis and why they’ve become so popular in such a short time:
- World Emoji Day is celebrated on July 17th every year. In 2014, Jeremy Burge, founder of Emojipedia, the wiki for emoji, created the unofficial day in honour of the date that appears on the calendar emoji 📅
- In fact, Oxford’s 2015 word of the year was not a word but the laughing with tears emoji 😂
- When referring to more than one, the pluralisation is not emojis but emojis.
- In 2013, the well-known book Moby Dick was translated into a book almost entirely made up of emojis. Fred Beneson led the team that converted the words of the book into emoji representations, nicknaming the classic “Emoji Dick“.
- Only 7% of the people that use the peach emoji 🍑 mean it in the sense of the fruit. Everyone overwhelmingly applies it in non-fruit contexts for the rest of the time due to its resemblance to human bottoms.
- Another controversial food emoji that gets a lot of bad rep for its bulbous and elongated purple appearance is the eggplant 🍆. So much so that it was labelled the “most Notable Emoji” in 2015. The majority of use for this emoji in conversations carries sexual connotations.
- As a representation of art, the water wave emoji 🌊 represents the world-famous Japanese painting, Hokusai’s Great Wave off Kanagawa.
- Anyone can submit their ideas for new emoji. You must provide a detailed explanation of why it deserves inclusion and the idea behind it. Be patient, though, because the process could take up to 2 years.
- The top request for an unapproved emoji in 2019 was the happy tears emoji. It showed a proud face and had tears but was not laughing.
- Some strange requests for emoji additions have also been, such as Healthy Poo, Dumpster Fire, Drop of Pee, and Doge.
- What started as a Github project turned into a programming language supporting emojis. Emoji code allows programmers to write code using emoji. Even though it still supports standard text, you can still access the program’s functionalities via solely emoji use.
- Finland is the only country in the world that has government-approved emoji. They even have their own set, with the unbreakable emoji featuring the Nokia 3310, Finland’s indestructible gift to the world.
- Other countries have their unique emoji. Australia is known for its alcohol-centred emoji, with the beer mug 🍺 being their most popular. On the other hand, Canada seems to have more of a humorous bone, which uses the poop emoji 💩 the most.
- Some may call it a publicity stunt, but Miley Cyrus certainly felt comfortable getting the sad cat emoji 😿 tattooed inside her lower lip. No such thing as bad publicity, right?
- Twitter has its brand emoji for targeted marketing campaigns, known as hashflags. Companies can customise a hashtag to appear as their brand images, such as for product launches and special occasions. They usually cost north of £700,000.
- Coca-Cola was the first company to take advantage of hashflags back in 2015. The hashtag #ShareaCoke automatically popped up as two coke bottles.
- Ever heard of lawsuits stemming from the use of emojis? One couple in Israel got quite a surprise. Text communication with a landlord led him to believe that they were ready to rent the apartment, prompting him to take down the ad. The couple texted a combination of 💃🏼 👯 ✌ 🎐 🐿 🍾 emoji, a very optimistic message in the judge’s opinion, resulting in a fine of £1,600 when they did not rent the place. First time for everything, right?
- No one would imagine the thumbs up emoji 👍 might be considered obscene in some places. It isn’t very respectful when sent to someone you’re not intimate with for places like Australia, Greece, and the Middle East.
- Emoji also communicate modern social awareness campaigns. The dark-toned raised fist ✊🏿 was closely associated with the Black Lives Matter campaign, while the drop of blood emoji 🩸 was introduced to reduce the stigma around female biological processes. Even the mosquito 🦟 was an attempt to raise awareness about mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria.
- Apple launched gender-neutral emojis in 2019 after increased social awareness. Besides offering a variety of skin tones instead of just Simpsons yellow, Apple launched these emojis as an act of general inclusivity. The most notable one among them is the facepalm emoji 🤦♀️.
- Instead of banning controversial emojis that could further incite unrest, the classic revolver emoji changed to the squirt gun 🔫. Microsoft and Apple also vehemently fought against the proposed rifle emoji back in 2016.
- Researchers found that emoji in texts activate the same parts of the brain when registering facial expressions on other people. It’s no surprise that people who use emojis in their texts seem more friendly and open.
- The most common food emojis are the pizza 🍕 and birthday cake 🍰 used all year round.
- The White House realised the importance of these icons to the younger generation and released an economic report in 2014 that smoothly incorporated emoji in the text.
- Even The Emoji Movie, released in 2017, currently has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 7%.
How Do You Use an Emoji in a Text Message?
Billions of emojis are sent every day. People not using them might consider themselves left out with such widespread use. So can you use these modern hieroglyphics in simple text messaging? Yes, of course!
It can reduce the character limit down to 70 instead of 160. Using emoji has that disadvantage. Modern smartphones have built-in compatibility, but some outdated phones can code emojis in a way that not even a tech-savvy person would understand.
Some phones automatically translate emoticons to emojis. Some have separate keyboards that must be downloaded first or activated from settings if already built-in. The simplest way is to copy and paste from another conversation since emoji are already commonplace, even in marketing campaigns.
How to Use Emoji Keyboard on iPhone
Apple introduced its emoji keyboard as a built-in feature in iPhones in 2011. It’s a free option that’s easy to set up in a few moments:
- Tap Settings and go to General.
- Scroll down in the options and tap Keyboard.
- Select Keyboards and tap on Add New Keyboard.
- Scroll down and tap on Emoji.
- Test it out. It appears like a smiley face on the bottom left corner of your keyboard.
How to Use Emoji Keyboard on Android
Android phones have had emoji compatibility ever since they started gaining mass popularity. With new emoji added every year, it’s compulsory to know how to access and use these glyphs on your Android phone:
- Tap Settings on your Android device.
- Open Language and Input.
- Tap on Android Keyboard or Google Keyboard.
- Go to Settings again.
- Swipe down to access Add-on Dictionaries.
- Give it a go. It appears like a smiley face at the bottom next to the spacebar when you open your keyboard.
Apple Introduces a New Set of Emoji
The internet undoubtedly lost its collective mind in 2017 when Apple announced the launch of emojis that mirror your facial expressions. Imagine your favourite emoji; cow 🐮, dog 🐶, cat 🐱 and so many more, not only frowning when you do, smiling when you do, but also speaking in your voice.
This new iOS 11 was a gamechanger- taking people’s emoji game to a whole new level. With Apple’s launch of Facial ID that same year, they now introduced the concept of “Animoji”. These customised animated messages promised to make the future of texting significantly more fun.
The mesh of hardware involved in Face ID, also known as the TrueDepth camera, combined the ambient light sensor, microphone, speaker, front camera, proximity sensor, infrared camera, dot projector, and food illuminator. It provided a 3D aspect to create customised Apple Animoji.
Animoji Update 2018
Now imagine customising your Animoji into an even more personalised version. Memoji is an animated representation of you. Modify it to make it look like an exact version of yourself, albeit an animated one. Maybe even an understanding of you, say, with a cowboy hat, mohawk, or blue hair.
iMessage’s built-in Memoji can change in real-time. The avatar follows your facial muscle movements, much like Animoji, but built from the ground up, with accessories like glasses, hairstyle, freckles, or skin colour.
To access your Memoji:
- Open iMessage
- Select a chat and open up your keyboard.
- Select the App Store icon beside the text field.
- Open the Memoji icon in the App Store.
- Tap on “+” and “Get Started”.
- Click New Emoji to access the Memoji builder.
- Adjust your Memoji any way you like.
- Tap Done to save your Memoji.
- You can send it easily now in iMessage.
The Future of Emoji
Every year, the Unicode Consortium approves dozens of new emoji, meaning that a new lexicon is being added regularly for greater inclusivity for the landscape of multi-culturalism and diversity. From mythical creatures like genies 🧞, vampires 🧛♂️, and mermaid 🧜♀️ to animals 🦓🦒🦔🐱🐉 and new faces like the expletive-spouting angry face 🤬, new updates become vaster and vaster.
People have even introduced emoji for disabilities, like people in wheelchairs 👩🦽👨🦽 and deaf people 🧏♂️🧏♀️. What’s more, you can choose what kind of hair you want to convey, from red 👨🦰 to grey 🧓, plus cultural symbols like a Nazar amulet 🧿 or a moon cake 🥮.
Each successive batch of emojis strives to transcend language and overcome communicative barriers. As overlooked or minority communities gain more representation, thoughtfully designed icons help bridge these differences towards a global form of communication. We don’t all speak one language- except for emoji 😉.
As their younger, more expressive sibling replaces emoticons, their compatibility across platforms becomes universal. They’re not just a silly way of communicating a message; it’s a robust, complex form of digital language.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How to Use Emoji on Outlook?
Nowadays, business conversations are so inclusive of emojis that any thread devoid of them seems barren and emotionless. You want to emphasise what you’re saying. You want to insert emoji in your Outlook conversations:
- Sign in to Outlook and tap New Message.
- Click on the smiley face button in the message pane.
- A small window panel called Expressions will appear. You can select your desired one from here.
- If you don’t see the one you want, tap on View All to look at the entire gallery.
How to Use Emoji on My Laptop?
For Windows laptops, there is a simple shortcut to access the emoji keyboard. Press Windows logo key + . (period). This will open a small window panel displaying emoji you can choose from.
For your MacBook, the shortcut to open the emoji keyboard is Control + Command + Spacebar keys at the same time. This will open up a new panel.
How Do I Use the Emoji Keyboard?
Once you have opened the emoji window panel on your laptop, you can select any emoji you want with a click of the mouse. If the panel is not already open, press the Windows logo key + . (period) to access the emoji keyboard on your Windows laptop and Control + Command + Spacebar keys on your MacBook.
How to Use Emoji on Tinder?
If you want to spice up your conversations using emoji, it’s as simple as tap, tap, go! You will see a smiley face icon next to your keyboard. Tap it to access your emoji library for both Android and iOS.
If it’s not already installed
- Go to Settings.
- Tap on Language and Input.
- Install the emoji keyboard from the App Store.
How to Use Emoji on Windows 10?
Using emoji on Windows 10 is as easy as it could be. As it comes pre-installed on laptops now, all you need to do is press the shortcut keys. Press Windows logo key + . (period) to open up a small window panel with all the available standardised emoji on display.