I’ve become oddly obsessed with Emoji recently and in examining the Unicode standardisation of Emoji characters I noticed a surprising number of common characters missing.
When I say “missing” I mean missing from the canonical EmojiSources.txt file in the Unicode standard, but present in iOS.
When I say “common” I mean no more obscure than any of the others and in every day use by iPhone owners.
Splitting the omissions out and viewing them on Android, the glyphs are indeed missing from the system font.
Perhaps you could class the missing symbols as simply “extra symbols on Apple”, but it’s worth noting that they are present in the Unicode code charts. They look very much like exclusions, although the exclusions seem quite arbitrary.
Even the first emoticon (‘grinning face’) is not present. It seems more like human error than choice to miss that one out. Also inexplicably missing are exactly half of the clock symbols (none of the half-pasts) and possibly to the annoyance of the LGBT community, the two same-sex-holding-hands icons which Apple added in iOS 6.
Here’s the list of Emojis missing from Unicode’s published EmojiSources.txt that are present in iOS. Checking iOS 6 against my Nexus 7 it appears that Apple users can enjoy these characters, but Android users cannot. See for yourself:
It appears that it was primarily Google behind the Uni-codifying of Emoji, although Microsoft and Apple were involved later on judging by the project committers. I can’t say whether Google deliberately excluded glyphs they didn’t have from the standard, or whether Apple went behind their back and added unstandardised symbols, or whether the whole thing is a cock-up. The end result is the same for the rest of us.
Hopefully as vendors add Emoji to their system fonts the EmojiSources.txt file will be updated in future releases of the Unicode standard, but for now assume that the standard is incomplete and unreliable.
– Oh, and don’t text your Android friends to meet at half-past the hour if you want them to turn up.