How to use emoji on iPhone, iPad & Mac: What is emoji?
Emoji (it’s a plural noun – technically, the question should be “what are emoji?”) are the ideograms – smileys – used in electronic messages and on websites. You may know them more generally as ’emoticons’, but emoji are a specific subset of that phenomena. Emoji are widely used in Japanese culture, but their use has spread around the world, and on to many devices.
‘Emoji’ is itself an Anglicised version of the Japanese words for ‘picture’ and ‘character’, which is pretty self-explanatory. Emoji are incorporated into Unicode, and are therefore now available on many Android devices, within Google’s Gmail and – yes – on your Apple device. You just have to find them to unlock the fun. (See also: 66 awesome tips & tricks for iPad and iPhone users.)
How to use emoji on iPhone, iPad & Mac: New emoji in iOS 10.2
In mid December 2016, Apple released iOS 10.2 for iPhone and iPad, and with it came new emoji including a set of new job and equal-gender emojis. There are 72 new characters, including a female firefighter and a female scientist, as well as other new emoji like an avacado, a shark, an eagle and a gorilla. Many emoji have been redesigned too, so you may find that some of your favourites now have a new appearance.
How to use emoji on iPhone, iPad & Mac: What’s the difference between emoji and emoticons?
The essential difference between emoji and emoticons is that ’emoticon’ is a general term for smiley faces used in text messages. When you use 🙂 and it resolves to a face graphic, that is an emoticon. Emoji are graphics you insert from a special keyboard, whilst composing messages.
There are many more emoji than there are emoticons, and they are standardised images built into mobile devices such as iPhones and iPads. You may also find that some emoji have a particularly Japanese flavour. Japanese foods, animals and characters feature widely. And some images just don’t translate.
How to use emoji on iPhone, iPad & Mac: Apple and emoji
Emoji first appeared on Macs as far back as OS X 10.7 Lion. iOS of course allows you access several hundred emoji. In both cases you can use emoji in most apps, whenever you access the onscreen keyboard. We talk about how to use emoji on your Mac in this feature: Four fun ways to customize your Mac. So lets now look specifically at using emoji on your iPhone or iPad.
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From time to time Apple adds a few new emoji to iOS as part of a software update. One of the biggest emoji updates of recent years was iOS 8.3, which came out in 2015. iOS 8.3 had a heavy focus on emoji improvements, bringing an updated emoji picker that organises emoji into categories in an easily scrollable list.
Apple also gifted iPhone and iPad users a new and diversified set of emoji that includes expanded family options, and emoji skin tone modifiers for changing the look of people emoji to be more ethnically diverse and accurate. There are also several new flags.