Android Has an Emoji Problem and it Has Everything to Do With Slow Updates


Emojis, those tiny characters originating from Japan (but which, surprisingly, are no longer considered cool in the Far East trend-setting nation that also gave us Super Mario and Pikachu) that are now widely used to describe emotions, things and even the weather, are almost ubiquitous. So widely used are emojis that one of them even became the 2015 Oxford Dictionaries “word of the year”.

Since we all consume and create content on a myriad of devices that run software that is vastly different from one another, the way we experience the global phenomenon that is emojis also varies greatly. For instance, iPhone users interact with emojis as envisioned by Apple. Anyone using a device running Android on the other hand, is limited to emojis as envisioned by Google. Therein lies the problem.

The Unicode Consortium, the non-profit body that is largely responsible for bringing to fore new emojis, approves several new emojis every now and then. From there on, it is up to the Apples and Googles of this world to adapt them to their tastes and deliver them to users of their services. According to “emoji search engine” Emojipedia, Google hasn’t done such a stellar job of ensuring that users of its mobile operating system, Android, have access to the latest emojis.

96 out of 100 Android users ARE not seeing the latest emojis

According to Emojipedia, only 4% of Android device users have access to the latest emojis, a stark contrast to the 84% of iOS users who have access to the new shrug and fingers-crossed emojis alongside others thanks to an update that hit iOS devices last December.

Since updates on the Android side of the fence are almost always a bad rumour, the situation is dire. Only those with devices running the most recent version of Android, Nougat, a tiny minority by any means, have these new emojis.

4% is a generous statistic since Google’s own metrics paint an even grimmer picture: under 1% of all Android devices are running Android 7.0 and up.

Things may change gradually since device makers are just getting started on delivering the Android 7.x updates to their device’s users but generally, it looks like a trend that may not be reversed any time soon.

For now, though, users of popular messaging applications like WhatsApp and Telegram can continue living peacefully in the bubble created by the two companies since both apps have their own in-app chat keyboards that have up-to-date emojis. For everyone else, hope is all they have since grabbing either Google’s smartphones that are assured of timely updates or Apple’s iPhone which costs an arm and a leg will be a rather costly affair that needs to be justified by other reasons other than the quest for the latest emojis.