Emoji is just a graphical representation of a gesture. A smiley face to show well that you are smiling. They have become synonymous with quick texting which is prevalent in this internet era. The usage of emoji has risen due to the universality in what they express. Though used interchangeably, emoji and emoticon are different. Emoticons are series of characters that portray facial expressions such as 😀 which predate emojis. You’d be surprised to know that they were used as far back as 1982.

Even if emoji seems graphical, it works the same way as any regular text. Unicode is a universal standard followed for standardizing the texts. They are represented by a sequence of Unicode code points. For instance, the smiley face emoji ‘😂’ that we all know is represented by the code point U+1F602.

Basic emojis use single Unicode code points but recently, multiple emoji code points are compounded to form a single emoji. An example is the male astronaut emoji ‘👨‍🚀’ which is a combination of the man ‘👨’ and the rocket ‘🚀’ with Unicode U+1F468 and U+1F680 respectively.

The two are joined together by using an invisible character of Unicode U+200D which is more specifically known as Zero Width Joiner (ZWJ). ZWJ is used along with the two to tell the device to compound the two emojis together.

Thirdly, there is another emoji code point known as Variation selector 16 with a code point of U+FE0F. An example of which is the heart ❤️ with a Unicode of U+2764. By combining it with a variation selector, the color of the heart can thus be altered.

Let’s look at the process:

Finally, let’s take you through the whole process. Suppose you sent an emoji from your android cellphone. It is sent as a Unicode to the receiver, which is then converted back to an emoji on their device. It might look aesthetically different if opened on an iPhone.

It is so as even if the Unicode is the same, depending on the operating system you use, the aesthetic of the emoji represented is different.

Device vendors create their own images for representing the Unicode. This is the very reason why some devices might not support emojis at all, as there might be no image specified to be displayed. But most modern devices will most likely have full support.

Interesting Emoji Facts:

95% of Internet users have used an emoji. Over 10 billion emojis are sent daily. They are used mainly on social media. More than 700 million are used in Facebook posts daily. About 36% of Instagram posts contain 1 to 3 each.

A Japanese artist invented emojis in 1999. The artist, Shigetaka Kurita, was looking for an attractive interface to share information in a simple concise way.

Facts source: gofisher.net

Photo by Lidya Nada on Unsplash


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