Whimsical texting icons get a shot at success | india | Hindustan Times
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Whimsical texting icons get a shot at success

Say you wanted to invite a friend to happy hour. You could send a simple text message, but that would be boring. Instead, why not send a cartoony picture of two clinking beer mugs?

india Updated: Dec 07, 2011 20:18 IST

Say you wanted to invite a friend to happy hour. You could send a simple text message, but that would be boring. Instead, why not send a cartoony picture of two clinking beer mugs?

That’s the kind of thing Alicia Fernandez, a student in fashion marketing at Berkeley College in New York, likes to send to friends. “Instead of saying ‘I love you,’ I’ll just use a heart,” she said.

Fernandez is talking about emoji, which are the more elaborate cousins of emoticons — those creative combinations of colons, parentheses and other punctuation that people use to drop a facial expression into a text message.

Emoji’s are a kind of pictorial alphabet stored on a phone that can be displayed in place of the regular keyboard.

Outside their native Japan, emoji have been available to in-the-know smartphone owners for some time via add-on applications. But now they may be on the verge of going mainstream in the US, thanks in part to Apple’s latest update to its iPhone software. The latest version, iOS 5, comes with an installed library of emoji that can be turned on as an “international keyboard” in the device’s settings.

Apple declined to comment on its decision to add emoji, but it was most likely driven by a global standardisation of the format last year that was meant to ensure that a picture of a cute cat will still look like a cute cat on a different phone in a different country. The move has put emoji on the radar of many more iPhone and iPod Touch owners.

S Shyam Sundar, professor at Pennsylvania State University said Apple’s decision might be part of a larger business strategy and with features like emoji the company is fashioning a unique mobile culture. NYT