OK, before we begin, I want to make sure we’re all iPhone-toting hipsters here. We love the visual voicemail, and all the lifestyle-enabling apps like Facebook, Shazam, Amazon.com, and the AP News Wire. The games are great, too.
Texting, however, leaves a little to be desired. The conversations are threaded, which is all well and good, but there’s no MMS anywhere to be found. There aren’t even emoticons anywhere either, so we all send ASCII smileys back and forth: “:)” “:(” “;-)” “:-D” “X-[” and so on.
Japan leapfrogged us on this one. Evidently most Japanese cell phones come with Emoji, which is a reserved set of the Unicode character space exclusively for emoticons!
Well, it turns out that the iPhone has Emoji as well, but they’re locked away and unavailable, reserved only for Japanese users. Many people have discovered this, and provided us with ways to unlock these Emoji for non-Japanese iPhones. For example, the app “Spell Number- Emoji for Free” doesn’t really do anything I would ever need, but if you enter in the string “9876543.21” it unlocks your Emoji settings. Follow the directions in its App Store description to enable your Emoji, and off you go.
The main reason I’m posting this article is because I was really amazed by the expressiveness of the character set, and how you can compose entire stories in them. I had a furious Emoji exchange over iPhone with a few friends last night, and here are the highlights. Credit to Wil, Bobert, and Tara who maybe I’ll meet someday.