Please Don't Use Emoji

July 22, 2011 by Noah
Update (4/4/2013): Linux distros don't support Emoji very well by default, but you can simply install the Symbola font and that will make Emoji just magically work.

Apparently, Mac OS X Lion supports Emoji icons like iOS does.

Please, nobody get in the habit of using these. Anywhere. Unless you're talking specifically to other Apple users.

Nobody else supports Apple's particular variant of Emoji icons as well as Apple does. For Linux and Windows users, all your Emoji icons you paste in Twitter updates don't work. Most of the icons will be completely broken for these users (rendering as a block character), and the few icons that do render, won't look nearly as good as on Apple devices: they'll just look like Unicode characters, i.e. using the same black-and-white font color as everything else. Not full color icons.

It's already bad enough that cross-platform mobile apps (iOS and Android) have idiots using Emoji icons everywhere (which do not display on Android at all, but show as broken block characters), but for desktop Apple users to be able to paste Emoji icons everywhere else is just the most terrible news as of late.

Don't use them. Period.

Update (2013-01-08)

I took screenshots from several popular operating systems showing an iTunes page that embeds a handful of Emoji icons to show how exactly the icons render on various different systems.

The album is here:

  • Ubuntu 12.10 -- the most popular Linux distribution today -- fails to render most of the Emoji icons at all. Fedora 17, a bleeding edge Linux distribution, also fails to render most Emoji icons.
  • Windows XP fails miserably to render ALL of the Emoji icons, and most Unicode symbols besides. This is still a very popular Windows OS despite being so old.
  • Windows 7, Windows 8, and Android (tested on 4.0+) all show the Emojicons reasonably well, but what they don't do is render them with shiny, colorful Apple icons like Mac OS X does. You have to squint to see the Emojicons rendered in any reasonable font size. Android 2.2 and older don't render Emoji icons and show block symbols instead.


There are 21 comments on this page. Add yours.

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Thias posted on September 3, 2011 @ 13:08 UTC

The way OS X lion handle emoji is compliant with Unicode 6.0, so this is not a variant particular to Apple, and will eventually be supported by other platforms, like accented letters or asian characters in the pastโ€ฆ

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Hugh Isaacs II posted on September 28, 2012 @ 20:29 UTC

Windows Phone 7, Windows Phone 8, Windows 8 and Android 4.1 support Emoji.

Windows 7 also just recently recieved Emoji support in an update that adds the Segoe UI Symbol font.

And like the comment above states it's not an Apple specific feature, Emoji is standardized.

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Noah (@kirsle) posted on September 28, 2012 @ 20:30 UTC

There is an Emoji standard... Apple's isn't it.

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Appleboi posted on January 8, 2013 @ 10:15 UTC

You are wrong. The latest Apple mobile devices and Macs all use standard Unicode compliant emoji encoding.

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Noah (@kirsle) posted on January 8, 2013 @ 19:44 UTC



Screenshots there show an iTunes page that embeds a handful of Emoji icons, and how this page renders on several modern and popular operating systems.

Ubuntu 12.10 -- the most popular Linux distribution today -- fails to render most of the Emoji icons, as does Fedora 17, a bleeding edge Linux distribution.

Windows XP fails miserably at rendering them. This is still a very popular Windows OS, and your pretty little Emoji icons won't render for Windows XP users at all.

Windows 7, Windows 8, and Android all render Emoji icons reasonably well, but if you'll notice, they DON'T show the pretty colorful shiny Apple Emoji icons, they show black-and-white Unicode symbols that you have to squint to see in any font size smaller than 24pt.

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Michael Johnston posted on March 7, 2013 @ 01:12 UTC

I'm not sure I see the problem. It seems to me that tiny black & white icons on Windows and empty boxes on Linux are the correct rendering of Emoji to match the emotional sensitivities of the typical users of those respective operating systems.

Anyway, I get beer in my terminal whenever I install a unix package using brew, so neener neener neener.

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Markie posted on March 24, 2013 @ 02:34 UTC

Apple uses Unicode standard Emoji now that they exist. They used to use a variant of Softbank's emoji

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Anonymous posted on December 23, 2013 @ 16:11 UTC

Boo hiss boo. ๐Ÿ˜ฌ๐Ÿ˜ก๐Ÿ˜  ๐Ÿ‘Ž๐Ÿ‘Ž๐Ÿ‘Ž๐Ÿ‘Ž๐Ÿ‘Ž๐Ÿ‘Ž

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Arne Arnesen posted on February 19, 2014 @ 17:07 UTC

The symbols may be unicode encoded, but the colors are not a part of the unicode standard.

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hmmwhat posted on May 5, 2014 @ 18:10 UTC

Right. But they still don't display as anything except boxes on other machinesnon apple. So what you are saying is they use unicode compatible but the users who use Apple machine didn't upgrade so the others in the netherworld are forced to look at boxes? How to fix the issue for the rest of us. ..?

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Robert posted on June 17, 2014 @ 16:30 UTC

Ubuntu 12.04 LTS chromium-browser extension ๐Ÿ˜œ

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WhoCaresOS posted on July 2, 2014 @ 15:48 UTC

Haters gonna hate. I am sick of all this my OS is better.. Ewww don't use this OS or feature because this OS uses it.

It is Unicode. If you cannot display it properly... find a friggin' font that has all of the unicode characters in it and quit complaining. IT IS NOT AN OS FAILURE it is a FONT FAILURE. Get your whinning straight. All you 1337 boi's don't know crap except how to complain.

Also FF is suk. Chrome is suk. Safari is suk. IE is suk. The web is suk so is this site complaining about an OS because it is not in the 1337 boi's chosen OS.

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ScottInNH posted on October 7, 2014 @ 20:55 UTC

So let me get this straight:

The latest Apple OS use unicode correctly, but users of other OS who haven't kept up (rendering boxes) are complaining about APPLE?

This isn't Apple's concern. The box characters you point out on Ubuntu eventually went away, because Ubuntu eventually incorporated the standard.

Ubuntu is sometimes slow about picking up standards changes because they will be on a strict release arc, and if they didn't choose to incorporate something during pre-alpha, it's unlikely to make it into a release candidate (and never ever post release). Apple has the flexibility to make a calculated change on shorter notice, and throw more resources at testing. (And Microsoft, well, when do they ever show up early at a standards party?)

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ScottInNH posted on October 7, 2014 @ 21:00 UTC

Also, as someone else pointed out, this font related.

On Ubuntu, who exactly is responsible for ensuring that a font represents EVERY possible unicode character? Oh yeah, no one.. it's not Ubuntu's concern (nor is it CentOS, etc).

Do you not remember the bad old days of not having suitable fonts in Ubuntu, and fonts who could not render fractions or special notation characters?

Try this: open your Character Map, and browse around the font. Note all the BOXES. These are fonts your OS or font supplier is not supporting, and they'll render as boxes. In no way does this mean that people who CAN see the characters (because they have better fonts) are actually doing something wrong. Unicode, as you may know, is HUGE.

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Noah (@kirsle) posted on October 7, 2014 @ 21:21 UTC

Re: Apple and Unicode, they weren't using Unicode in the beginning, they were using Softbank encoding, and iirc, theirs wasn't even fully compatible with the Japanese Emoji encodings that they based theirs off of, i.e. iOS users on iOS 4.x and older, when sending Emoji symbols to other Japanese phones, would result in corruption and missing emojicons, etc. [Edit: adding citation because what good is an Internet debate without those? "In many cases, even subscribers of the same network (Softbank) will not be able to view the pictograms." - and the blog post I probably read about it back in the day]

It's great for them that they actually decided to work with the Unicode standard rather than continue with a proprietary encoding. But most of my ranting above was completely valid until iOS 5.0 was released, before which people were posting tweets using proprietary Apple emoji that had no chance in hell of working on anybody else's devices.

See the Wikipedia page on Emoji's section about Softbank Encoding, I'm not sure if Apple devices will still render those properly but Android shows solid grey boxes for every single character in that list except for the copyright and registered trademark symbols. And Android shows all the other Unicode emojis just fine.

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unicode consortium posted on November 15, 2014 @ 18:35 UTC

Right, but that's the softbank encoding, which fell out of use after the unicode consortium standardised emoji. Apple devices don't render softbank-encoded emoji. The issues being raised are that pre-iOS5 emoji wasn't an apple-specific thing, and that iOS5 and later used standard unicode-defined emoji, which is, y'know, not proprietary. This has never been Apple's fault or doing. The citation you gave is from 2008, pertains to iOS2.2, and predates the standardisation of emoji into Unicode by a good two years (see Wikipedia's article on Unicode, which states emoji was first included in version 6.0, released in october 2010). iOS4, the last major version to use softbank encoding for emoji, was released in june 2010, also predating unicode 6.0. As of your update in 2013, the only issue with emoji support is whether the operating system in question ships with standard fonts that include emoji characters, and whether font substitution is supported (OSX/iOS and Linux/Android support this, Windows/WinRT/WPh do not),

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bob posted on December 12, 2014 @ 15:18 UTC

๐Ÿ˜„ ๐Ÿ˜ƒ ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜Š โ˜บ ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜ ๐Ÿ˜˜ ๐Ÿ˜š ๐Ÿ˜— ๐Ÿ˜™ ๐Ÿ˜œ ๐Ÿ˜ ๐Ÿ˜› ๐Ÿ˜ณ ๐Ÿ˜ ๐Ÿ˜” ๐Ÿ˜Œ ๐Ÿ˜’ ๐Ÿ˜ž ๐Ÿ˜ฃ ๐Ÿ˜ข ๐Ÿ˜‚ ๐Ÿ˜ญ ๐Ÿ˜ช ๐Ÿ˜ฅ ๐Ÿ˜ฐ ๐Ÿ˜… ๐Ÿ˜“ ๐Ÿ˜ฉ ๐Ÿ˜ซ ๐Ÿ˜จ ๐Ÿ˜ฑ ๐Ÿ˜  ๐Ÿ˜ก ๐Ÿ˜ค ๐Ÿ˜– ๐Ÿ˜† ๐Ÿ˜‹ ๐Ÿ˜ท ๐Ÿ˜Ž ๐Ÿ˜ด ๐Ÿ˜ต ๐Ÿ˜ฒ ๐Ÿ˜Ÿ ๐Ÿ˜ฆ ๐Ÿ˜ง ๐Ÿ˜ˆ ๐Ÿ‘ฟ ๐Ÿ˜ฎ ๐Ÿ˜ฌ ๐Ÿ˜ ๐Ÿ˜• ๐Ÿ˜ฏ ๐Ÿ˜ถ ๐Ÿ˜‡ ๐Ÿ˜ ๐Ÿ˜‘ ๐Ÿ‘ฒ ๐Ÿ‘ณ ๐Ÿ‘ฎ ๐Ÿ‘ท ๐Ÿ’‚ ๐Ÿ‘ถ ๐Ÿ‘ฆ ๐Ÿ‘ง ๐Ÿ‘จ ๐Ÿ‘ฉ ๐Ÿ‘ด ๐Ÿ‘ต ๐Ÿ‘ฑ ๐Ÿ‘ผ

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Gucci Mane posted on September 21, 2015 @ 02:07 UTC


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Justin Ternet posted on January 21, 2016 @ 12:51 UTC

Wrong! CSS import @font-face works on Linux and XP and most systems.

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mark johnson posted on November 1, 2018 @ 03:45 UTC

Awesome! It sounds great. A debt of gratitude is in order for sharing.. emoticons text

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