Warning: Android ⬌ Apple Emoji can lead to big misunderstandings

12 April 2016, 02:58

Kudos to Hannah Miller, a human-computer interaction (HCI) and social computing researcher who has identified the strong possibility of misunderstanding when sending Emoji between different platforms, such as iOS, Android and Windows.

In fact, Emoji can vary even between Android manufacturers. As an example, take a look at the following set of emoji, collated by Miller, and all of which are supposed to represent the same thing: grinning face with smiling eyes.

All I can say is that the Apple, Twitter and Facebook guys look like they badly need to use the bathroom – or are in the process of doing so. The Mozilla effort looks like a laughing baby.

It’s not just face-based emoji that can cause confusion. The Apple clapping emoji looks just more or less like two hands clapping but the research volunteers Miller and her team spoke to at identified the equivalent LG emoji as “praise” and “hand”. There are many others.

Miller’s produced a academic paper digging into this issue, and summarized it all in a very readable form at the link below. Take a look. It might just make you more cautious in future.

Font incompatibility issues are not new, of course, but when the font is pictorial in nature then the chances of misunderstanding the tone of a written message increases. One solution would be for each manufacturer to adopt the same font, perhaps one that’s open source. However, previous experience has shown that such a community-based approach is unlikely to occur, with each manufacturer considering their font to be a proprietary and competitive asset.

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