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Communicate Levant | Advertising, marketing, public relations and media in the Arab world and beyond

Emoji Wars: Saving Private Unicode


Emoji Wars: Saving Private Unicode

For years, tech companies have been in a race to better fit the needs of their customers by improving their instant messaging apps. Part of that competition for the heart and fingers of users, an actual emoji war was happening right under our noses.

If you’ve ever used different types of phones, you know what I mean: notice how different the emojis look. That’s because each company has its own emoji set.  

Here is Facebook’s – which no one likes according to online opinion platform DailyO. Moreover, in 2017, Facebook suddenly decided to switch the emojis on its newly-bought toy, WhatsApp. Twitter lit up with complaints while r/EmojiReview members on Reddit were not merciful either.

Courtesy of Facebook

As for Samsung, its emoji font is even worse and not even updated with the latest Unicode, which has the newer emojis like the “loved” face (🥰).

Courtesy of Samsung
Courtesy of Emojipedia

Google, on the other hand, was too busy in 2018 fixing its burger’s cheese on top of the meat instead of on the bottom because of many complaints from its fans.

Finally, Apple uses its own Unicode emoji characters and sequence, and they usually release the newest emojis, but that’s up to debate.

Courtesy of Apple’s MacOS (screen capture)

The rise of GIFs 

Courtesy of Giphy

“Gifs”, or “Jifs” depending on who you ask, started gaining traction in 2017. According to Digital Trends, Giphy reached 25,000 gif searches per minute on Facebook Messenger alone. This allowed users to customize their messages and express more in less time – or, as the New York Times said, “express a thousand words” – so naturally, Gifs quickly became popular. Yet, creating them is complicated. Nevertheless, last year all messaging apps like Whatsapp, incorporated a system for people to search and download any GIF.

Stickers are here 

Courtesy of Sticker Maker

Another player has entered the fray: stickers. 90% of the time (my own estimate), users copy what someone else has created. I know that because I’m sure a Lebanese curse word wouldn’t be on WhatsApp’s sticker store (which is limited, to say the least). 

Yet 10% of cases where people are actually spending time creating their own stickers is what’s extremely interesting.

What’s next? With both GIFs and stickers on the rise, imagine putting them together. That’s exactly what WhatsApp is doing, currently in the beta stage according to XDA, an Android development community.

Courtesy of XDA Forums

In this age of ideograms and pictures, communication is evolving, slowly but surely. And it isn’t going unnoticed.

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