When my oldest daughter started including a large emoji in her texts to me that looked an awful lot like her, I got curious about emojis. Those tiny Japanese images called emojis pepper many emails and texts and have become ingrained into social media and digital communications.
A man named Shigetaka Kurita designed the first emojis for cell phones to convey emotions and thoughts in the late 1990s. They became widely used in 2012 when Apple released the iPhone 6 with emoji built into the keyboard. In 2013 the word ‘emoji’ was added to Oxford Dictionary and emojis have evolved into an international language. Hearts are among the most used emojis.
Apple received criticism the past few years for not having any diversity in its emoji faces and human representations. Late in 2014 new characters were released, along with the ability to choose from among six skin tones when you click on some of the human emoji faces and hand symbols.
Tired of using the same old emoji? There are apps that allow you to create your very own:
- Turn your selfies into emojis at Imoji. The app is available for Android and iOS phones and is free. Choose a photo, use your finger to trace around the area you want as an emoji and it will be transformed into a textable sticker image.
- Bitmoji app is available for free for both iOS and Android. You can design your own emoji avatar. You can add text once you choose hairstyle, outfit and many other details.
Other interesting and useful emojis apps:
- Emoji++ puts your most used emoji in one list so you can quickly find them. You can also customize a list of favorites to really speed up the process.
- There are two emoji-only social networks where communication is only in emoji. They are Emojli and Emojicate.
- Emoji Type allows users to use emojis in phone texts. It automatically recommends emojis to replace certain words once you stop typing (for example, if you type the word ‘party’ it will show you a picture of a party hat). $1.00, for iOS only.
- KeyMoji extends what Emoji Type offers by recommending ways to form more complex ideas with emojis using phrases you’ve typed (for example, using a clock and a plane for ‘time flies’). Free, iOS only.